The reason I’m writing this is because chances are you’re like me, an aspiring writer who want to write and be recognized for your work. All of us write for different reasons. I write because I like to express my creativity and make people feel something when they read my stories. Be it sadness, happiness, anger, or more, if I can get you to feel something for a fanfic then I feel that I’ve done my job.
However, like most of us, I’m still in a sense learning how to hone the craft of writing. It’s not something you can just learn in a few weeks or months, it takes years to develop the right skills. Some are better learned while others are forced to learn on their own like me.
This is my advice for those who are trying to reach that extra mark and be like the high class writers we admire and look up to in this fandom and in writing in general.
1. If you’re writing then you are a writer
-The concept of being a writer is always different for everybody. Some people say you have to write a book to be a writer, others say you got to have specific concepts. I know people who claim I’m not a writer, but to me I am one. Because a writer is a person who writes. Doesn’t matter if he’s good or not, the moment you start making a story, essay, poem or script, you are a writer. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise
2. Never stop climbing the ladder
-Don’t think that just because you get a 10,000 hit marker on your story and get it to Equestria Daily that you’re the best writer in the world. There is always somebody higher then you and you can always achieve better. Never stop dreaming bigger and bigger the more you get up the rope. That being said, focus on taking your progress slow. Start with one shots, head up to short stories, then work on bigger ideas. Start in FIMfiction and then try to aim for Equestria Daily. You get on Equestria Daily, aim to get into The Vault. Take it right and take it slow. And when you do reach that goal, make a new one and achieve higher.
3. There is no true path
-There is no absolute way to become a writer. There is no single path that will equal success. Each writer follows a different path and sometimes they switch paths along the way. The path you’re on may be the best path you got, but it may take years to see success. Don’t search for the “right way”. Search for “your way”.
4. You will always feel the worst writer in the world
-This happens to everyone. It’s happen to me plenty of times. You look around this site and you see dozens of writers who are better then you and get more attention then you. Some days you just want to scream on how everything is unjust in the world. You think you’re nothing and that everything you write it’s nothing. You hate how everyone looks perfect and you’re constantly tired of people telling you to do this and that because every damn detail counts. You submit your fic and you get turned down so you hate on the Pre-Readers because you think the only way you’ll be recognized is if you’re perfect like them.
Listen buddy, life is never fair. It’s always going to suck and you will always have bad days. The thing that matters when this happens is if you can move on and work harder so you don’t have these bad days. If you let yourself get down from these negative feelings you’re only going to go so far in life. This stuff happens all the time so deal with it in a way that works for you.
5. You need both Creative and Technical
-The keys to making a story are the combination of good Creative and Technical writing. Most people will tell you that you need to be a good technical writer, but that’s not always the case. Even if a story looks good with all the grammar and structure, it can still have a terrible plot and horrible setting.
Granted, some people are better off in one area and have trouble in the other. I happen to be a very good Creative Writer, but not a good Technical Writer. To some people, they won’t care about one or the other, but if you want to get a higher rank in writing you will need to improve on both (Especially the technical writing in this fandom. It’s brutal among critics) Yes, you can have editors and such to help you with this problem, but it’s best to learn the two as well as you can. It will help you in the long run.
6. Take criticism like a man
-You are going to get spit at, cursed, insulted, and disliked for your fanfics. Everybody does this to everybody. Even a fic like Fallout Equestria gets hated for its existence. And you know what, who cares? People don’t like fics for various reasons. Maybe it’s the writing style, the plot doesn’t appeal to them, or it’s going into a direction they can’t follow. I liked Anthropology at first, but then after the whole “Human revelation” from Celestia I just stopped reading because I didn’t like the twist. Doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad fic, it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.
Even when you’re going to Ponychan for editors and proof-reading, you’re going to have your fic ripped apart. Just remember, criticism helps you. A lot. It’s what helps us find what’s wrong with our stories and how we can improve on them. I want people to tell me my stories are bad because I want to see what my weaknesses are and how I can improve them. Yeah, it’s going to hurt your pride, but this goes back to my fourth advice. Learn to deal with it
And you don’t have to listen to the criticism; it’s your choice to do so or not. But I heavily recommend that you look at what the critic is saying, look at that part of your fic, and then read it carefully so you can judge for yourself if it’s good or bad. More often then not you'll find them right.
7. Be patient
-This is something I learned the hard way. Take. You’re. Time. Go at a pace that works best for you. Leave your work alone for a few days before re-reading it. Read it again and again. Edit it. When you think you’re ready to post. Delay it, send it to your editors, read it again. One mistake I’ve made is that I’ve always posted when I wasn’t ready because I was too edger. Wait for the right moment and then post. Wait for your audience to come. Wait for your moment to shine. Wait.
8. Be proud of your work
-Just as there will always be people who hate your work, there will be people who love it as well. People like reading what they like to read. There is no universal “best” or “worst” fics, only popular ones and not popular ones. But even those unpopular fics still have fans. Always be proud to have them by your side and make them the ones you want to please.
Remember, all fics should be geared towards a specific audience. Not a Pre-Reader, not everybody, but a specific audience. I write How We Met for Fluttershy and Dash fans. It doesn’t have a huge following, but Flutter/Dash fans love it. Upon Wings of Sacrifice is meant for Tragedy and Adventure lovers, not an overall romance story even though it plays the part. You must make the audience you want to target the focus of your fic, because if you stay on course you will attract others.
Never the less, you must always feel proud of your work. If you’re wondering if anything you doing is worth it. Take a look at your comments and see the people who praise your fic. They’re the ones who are happy to read it. And as a writer, that’s fine by me.
9. Don’t be obsessed with Equestria Daily
-I’m going to say this right now. Equestria Daily’s pre-readers are good people and I respect them. I don’t always agree with their methods or choices, but I respect the hell out of them. I’ve managed to get on that site twice(Once under a different name before I took this one), but this was before all the major rules were put down. Yet, it’s still one of my proudest moments.
There are readers out there who will not read a fic unless it’s passed the Pre-Readers. To some, if it’s not on Equestria Daily it must not be good enough no matter how much praise it gets on FIMfiction. It’s not their fault, that’s people opinion. Others hate the site because they think the rules are too strict and the Pre-Readers are all opinionated and like to dismiss a fic if they just plain don’t like it. Well, it is a personal blog written by personal people so it’s they’re right to deny and allow.
The thing is, while getting a fic on Equestria Daily is a good achievement, it shouldn’t be the focus of your writing. Your focus should be on your audience. I do try to get on the site too, just like anybody else, but my main focus is on this site. It’s better, it’s got less restrictions, and you get a much bigger quality of fics. You want to focus a single story to get on Equestria Daily, go ahead, but don’t get obsessed on it and forget who really matters. Your readers.
10. Reading is good, but writing is better
-Yes, reading is good for you and it will help you, but just because you can read War and Peace doesn’t mean you can write it just as good. Reading helps you get ideas for how to write, but like any idea it needs to be taken into practice. That’s where writing comes in. The best thing to do is write, write, and write. Sure you may suck at first, but like any craft you work on it to get better. Start writing now and don’t ever stop. One day you’ll get to that point where you can write just as good as the stories you read.
11. Be friends with your editors
-There is no shame depending on an editor. Professionals do it all the time. You will go though tons of bad drafts just to get every mistake out and who are the people who spend their time doing that? Your editors. You want to get to know your editor and learn from them so you can learn how to be better yourself. My main editor has become a good friend and we’ve both help each other in our stories. He also helps me learn my mistakes and points out what I can do to improve. We may not agree on everything, but he, as well as my other editors, has helped me learned a lot. Granted, I still have more to learn but either way it’s good to know who your editors are.
12. Never give up
-When I was struggling in college, I wrote on a mini-white board that said “Never Give Up, you will be a Game Designer”. That board’s ink hasn’t changed in 3 years and I look at it every morning when I wake up and every evening when I go to bed. If you give up on something, you have lost. When I look at myself when it comes to writing I know I can achieve the same amount of success all the five and six star writers in this fandom have accomplished and bring a similar impact that they have caused. It’s going to take many fanfics, many trial and errors, and many bad days but I feel I can get there.
And the same should be said for you. So what if you get shot down by the Pre-Readers a dozen times. Work your butt off to show them whose boss. They want you to succeed just as much as I and the rest of us do. Maybe you’ll make it and maybe you won’t. But how will never know if you give up.
That’s my advice. Say what you will.