FOGcon panel--The Best Advice I Never Got

Here are my notes from a super useful panel on writing. The wonderful panelists (Kyle Aisteach, Effie Seiberg, Cassie Alexander, Vylar Kaftan, and Katharine Kerr) were kind enough to share their wisdom about writing, life, and the business side of things.

Disclaimer: This isn’t a transcript. Lots of stuff is paraphrased, and everything is filtered through my brain, so no promises about accuracy.

  1. Be kind to yourself
  2. You don’t write fiction with the rational parts of your brain
  3. Everyone has days like that. (You know, the bad days.) But try not to have weeks or months like that
  4. On social media, it looks like everyone is doing well. We don’t always see the failures that others have, only our own.
  5. When in doubt, take editors at their word
  6. Sometimes there’s advice to not give up on a piece. You don’t have to give up, but you can postpone and write something else
  7. There is no such thing as making it
  8. You can work hard and still not do well
  9. You can’t control the business side of things or what other people think of your writing, but you can control you relationship to your writing
  10. Just because something is published doesn’t mean it’s good (and visa versa)
  11. No story is for everybody
  12. Remember Yog’s Law. Money should flow to the writer. (Beware of shady contests and other scams.)
  13. Make choices as if you’ll become a Hugo grandmaster
  14. For book contracts, it can be useful to have a contracts lawyer look at it.
  15. For short story contracts, you need a reversion clause.
  16. Don’t be so eager to sell that you fall prey to a scam or sell to a shady venue
  17. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a sale if you need to
  18. It’s necessary to have moral support as a writer
  19. Writing often gets good when you stop thinking about craft and just tell your story
  20. Your process can change
  21. If you get stuck, try writing just one sentence. Then after a few days of that, try one paragraph. Then one page.
  22. When possible, be honest with yourself, and filter all writing tips through your own situation. Do what works for you.
  23. Your first draft can be bad