An Open Letter to “New” Writers

Dear Writer,

First? I’d like to congratulate you on your decision to become a writer. Being a writer has never been an easy thing for anyone to do, at any point in history. I’m not talking about technology, I’m talking about writers like the Marquis de Sade or Edgar Allen Poe or even Beatrix Potter. Journalists like Margaret Fuller, Alice Dunnigan, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward have challenged the way we think about our world through their reporting. From comic book writers to biographers and everyone in between, the list of writers who’ve influenced our social consciousness goes on and on.

WalkwayBut I’m not writing this letter to talk to you about why writing is “difficult” or why it’s “important.” No, I’m putting these words together for an entirely different reason. You see, the path you take to becoming a successful writer really has three trails that intersect with one another. The first trail is the one that led you to your decision to write — whether that be “just” a short story or a blog post, that’s what started you on the path.

The second trail is very hard to see and is, at times, invisible. It’s the journey that you have to take with your dreams. It’s an ever-shifting mist of visions that you’ll be on the New York Times bestsellers list or ending up on Oprah. This mist-filled trail always appears to be just out of reach, even though you try to grasp the shapes that seem to appear right out of thin air. Where can you find this second trail? Believe it or not, it hovers right above the third one.

The third trail is your journey, the one that you take to achieve your goals as a writer. You must cross oceans, deserts, mountains and green valleys. Sometimes the trail is marked, and it’s really easy to jump over that next puddle. Sometimes you have to blaze your own path.

In all my years as a writer and as a presenter, there’s really one fundamental reason why “new” writers fail. They simply gave up. Why?

Let’s go back to that trails analogy. Remember the second one, where the mist is kind of a distraction? Your dreams are important, because they inspire you. Unfortunately, some new to the craft latch on to those dreams and try to follow them by talking about writing without actually doing it! They’ll talk about how great their novel is, but they haven’t written a word. Then, when an agent or a publisher hasn’t deemed them to be a great writer, they give up. In another example, I’ll often see writers who berate themselves because they are “new” by saying: “I’ll never write like…” or “I can’t make any money doing this…” No one said the path was going to be easy: there are a million and one reasons I can give you not to become a writer, but there are equally as many reasons why you should.

The secret to achieving your dreams has nothing to do with someone else coming down from a cloud in the sky, validating your work as a writer. The secret is not about being positive or having luck, and it certainly isn’t about having blinders on about “how great” you or your work is, either. In order to unlock your dreams, you simply need to be persistent and (at times) a little stubborn.

What does that mean? Well, part of that journey is up to you. I have to get to my own writing now, but I’ll share more about how to make your own luck later this week.

In the meantime, I encourage you to pick up your pen and write.

    Kind regards,
5 Responses to An Open Letter to “New” Writers
  1. Ken Marable

    Thanks, I needed that today!

    Sometimes it’s hard to remind myself that recognizing that just starting out my writing isn’t all that great is actually the first step towards expertise and a big leap from naively thinking this is all so easy.

  2. Chuck

    I totally agree with you. Writing is a lot like putting a bucket on your head and headbutting a wall to its destruction. It’ll work. You’ll knock that wall down eventually. But most people would — perhaps wisely — give up long, long before they make a dent in the brick. 🙂

    — Chuck

  3. Paul Genesse


    Very well put. I agree completely and think that most of us write because we must. It’s a deep desire we can’t shake off, no matter how many times we try.

    Paul Genesse
    Author of The Dragon Hunters
    May 2009

  4. [...] An Open Letter to “New” Writers [...]...
  5. Cipherqueen

    The most common problem I run into with most fellow young writers is that they aren’t informed. They have no idea what a query is. They assume they can walk into an editor’s office, put their book on the desk, and see it in print a few days later with checks being mailed to their house as copies are sold. Only a select few even know what a literary agent is (5-7%). It’s those 5-7% that are actually serious about writing that might make it into the publishing world. Like you said, it’s not an easy road, but those who are persistent can reach it. I only wish there were more of them.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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