(Since I'm finishing up my manuscript to send out I am going to post this is an article that I wrote earlier this year for Maine RWA's newsletter. I hope you enjoy it. It applies to all writers, not just romance writers.)
Dear New Romance Writer:
You are now on a path limited only by your imagination. You have undertaken a task that many endeavor to, but few ever undertake. You have thrown your hopes and dreams onto the table for everyone to inspect, encourage and even, at times criticize. And by doing so, you will learn and grow and find yourself treading paths few even know exist.
In this open letter to you I hope that you will take this advice in the manner in which it is offered, from someone who has been writing for a very long time and traversed the pothole-filled road to publication.
Know that what you undertake is not a crazy lark. There will be those who would tear you down. Call what you want to do crazy. Even suggest that you will most likely fail. They are wrong. The only person who can determine whether you fail will be yourself. You alone control the power to persevere and to succeed. And only you can determine what will make your life a success by your own terms.
The most sage advice I can offer is to be open to any and all experiences this journey can offer. Be a sponge. Be a flower in the sun. (Be sure to avoid overused cliches). But know that there will always be someone further along in their career, more successful, or even more comfortable with what they do. It’s your job to take what they can offer and use or discard it as you see fit. Not every method works for everyone. I went to one particular plotting session very early on in my career that I’m still trying to figure out what the author was teaching. Take what you can use and throw away the rest.
Create a support system. Join Romance Writers of America. Find a local writer’s group that is open to the romance genre (unfortunately, not all are). Find a mentor, someone who has been there before you. And, if you think it would be helpful then find a supportive and nurturing critique group to help you along. I guarantee that these people are out there. Some are online, others right around the corner from you. All you need to do is check the Internet, the library, or the local bookstore, as they can usually tell you if there is a group in your area.
Take heart in the small and big things that you do when you work toward your goal of publication. Even something as simple as putting the first sentence on the page. To writing "The End" on the last. Even a rejection is an accomplishment. I’ve encountered many writers over the years that write and write and never send anything out. They let their fear of rejection control their future. Remember that nothing ventured is nothing gained.
Lastly, never let anyone take away from you that feeling of euphoria that comes from putting those words in your head onto the page. You will run into many people who say they would like to write a book, but never do. You have already taken a step toward your goal. And you should be applauded for it.