I follow a lot of people on Twitter. Most of them, I follow for fun: they’re insightful, amusing, friendly folk. But some are on my “understanding the business of writing” list: agents, editors, writers, publishers. Some of these people offer the same insightful, amusing, friendly 140-character glimpses into their daily lives that the others do. But, lately, I’ve seen a trend of negativity in this latter crowd that makes me wonder if I’m right for this want-to-be-published storytelling game.

One person offered up a tweet that was basically, “Don’t send me your manuscript if…” Another said, “Don’t expect me to read your book if…” A third mentioned, “Don’t even think of querying me if…”

Many of these “don’ts” are valid, valuable points to know and understand…but I’ve gotten a bit fed up with seeing so many “don’ts” all over the place. As someone who’s chosen an art (storytelling) for a personal outlet, I’ve had to deal with a lot of naysaying and doubts already, and it does very little for one’s sense of self-worth to be told “Don’t” all the time.

So, I’ve decided to share in this space my list of “dos.” Hopefully, at least one of these will help you get through your slower days.

  • Do be engaged with your own story. Love it, to help it grow beyond those scratchings of loose plot outlines and vague character sketches.
  • Do respect your readers’ intelligence. The good ones want and deserve a story worth the time of picking up and reading.
  • Do finish your story, even if that first ending isn’t all you’d hoped and dreamed. Qualification and strength of your story will come from revision, but you can only get to the point of revision if you manage to finish the story first.
  • Do try your best. You will be more proud and pleased with your story if you know you’ve given it your all. Other people will see it, too!
  • Do listen to critique. You won’t be able to please everyone, of course, but any well-thought critique is worth considering.
  • Do remember that this is your story. Write it for you, first. If your goal is publishing and making millions, you may have to revise parts (or all) of it…but it should always remain your story at its core.

And, most importantly:

  • Do have fun!
By Thomas Tolkien (Flickr: Surfer girl (2 of 2)) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I had to link to this in honor of my surf mentor, Fiona. 🙂
Photo by Tom Tolkien.