Stick It Out: Advice for New Writers by Taylor Hohulin – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Stick It Out: Advice for New Writers

After five years of self-publishing, I have five novels, two short stories, a nonfiction, and a whole stack of blogs to my name. I don’t necessarily consider myself an expert on the topic, but I think I’m past that “new writer” phase, too.

Any time someone asks me the best advice I’d give to new writers, the thing I keep coming back to is this three-word phrase: Stick it out. Writing is a long game, and it’ll feel disproportionate at times. After all, I can read a really good paperback in a couple weeks, but to write one? Give me at least a year. And chances are, if I want it to be even more readable, even more un-put-down-able, I need to spend even longer.

So I’ll say it again: Stick it out.

When every word you write feels forced, every scene contrived, and every character flat, stick it out. Your job is not to have a perfect piece of fiction ready for the presses after day one. Your job is to bring that little project another step closer to completion. You will likely sit down at your computer hundreds of times over the course of writing a book, but only once will you get up from a truly completed manuscript. Every other time, you’ll walk away from something incomplete and broken. But don’t let that discourage you. Stick it out.

When it seems like you’ve been writing the same story forever and you still have so far to go, when you just want to be done with it already and have a nice paperback trophy for your bookshelf, stick it out. Remember what I said about the long game? You’ll spend a lot longer hammering away at the keyboard, dreaming up settings and characters and plot twists than you will holding that finished paperback. At least, I hope you will. And that’s good, right? You started writing because you liked to write. Don’t let the excitement of a completed project distract you from the pure joy of telling a story. Don’t rush to finish a project just for the sake of having a finished project. Stick it out.

And when you find a gaping plot hole, when suddenly it’s the dead center of act two and your story isn’t fresh and fun anymore, when a sparkly new idea rears its gleaming head, stick it out. You won’t always love the book you’re working on, and that’s okay. When you get those shiny new ideas in the middle of a dull and old project, write them down and save them for later. Let them marinate while you’re working on a project that was once a shiny new idea to you. If you keep chasing every exciting new plot idea that pops up, you run the risk of never finishing anything, of never seeing that you can take an idea that’s lost its luster and, in spite of what you think in the moment, turn it into something you’re proud of. Keep coming back. Keep making that project a little more beautiful. Stick it out.

So that’s what I have for you. Maybe not very in-depth, but it’s a mentality that’s helped me. Writing isn’t a sprinting hobby; it’s a marathon. And I guess that’s a good thing. If you love something, wouldn’t you want it to require you to spend lots of time with it?

Brendan Cobb calls it tar, but there might be as many names for it as cities left standing.

To some, it’s known as filth, or blight. Others call it the Black God in reverential whispers. Whatever name it takes, the effects are the same. Cities left in ruins. People turned into monsters. Living infections with no known cure. The best anyone can do is avoid it, but even that gets harder the more it spreads.

Brendan survives this waking nightmare by trading salvage for shelter and for repairs to his cybernetic arm, until a newcomer arrives, convinced Brendan is the key to ridding the world of tar once and for all. Reluctantly, Brendan and his mechanic join the newcomer on a journey across the desolate highways of a ruined world, where he learns the true history of the tar…and of the dark power inside him, which grows stronger every day.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Tiger Stripe barked something harsh and insistent, but Brendan barely heard it. He’d descended into a place ruled by impulse and instinct. Coldness enveloped him as his legs pumped, pulling the tunnel in the debris ever closer.

Tile exploded a few inches from Brendan’s feet, an errant shot from Tiger Stripe’s blaster. He did not fire again—a wise decision, considering Brendan was running toward the only way out. The last thing anyone needed was a collapsed tunnel.

Just as Brendan wondered if he would escape, a sound roared behind him, speeding closer at an alarming rate. Metal joints pistoned over and over, faster than any human could move on his own.

Brendan glanced back. The kid with two mods in place of his legs was sprinting after Brendan. The slender prosthetics looked more like they belonged on an insect than a human. As the thought crossed his mind, a single word cut through the coldness that surrounded him. The salvagers were chanting.

“Grasshopper! GRASS! HA! PER! Grasshopper! GRASS! HA! PER!”

Grasshopper leaned forward as he ran, with an expression equal parts grin and grimace. Brendan didn’t want to fight him here, not with four other salvagers waiting to join. It would be cleaner if he could separate them and take them one by one.

None of these things occurred to Brendan as thoughts. They were instincts, like don’t touch a fire, or don’t breathe underwater. They passed through his mind in an instant, registering deep within his very core.

About the Author: Taylor Hohulin is a radio personality by morning, a science fiction author by afternoon, and asleep by 9:30. He is the author of The Marian Trilogy, Tar, and other genre-blending works. He lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, where they are owned by a dog and a cat.

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Amazon Author Page

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  1. James Robert says

    Always fun to hear about another new book. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for hosting!

  3. Thanks for hosting me today!

  4. Thanks for hosting me!

  5. Sounds like a good read.

  6. Great post, I enjoyed reading it!

  7. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Bernie Wallace says

    Great cover. Did you help design it?

  9. This sounds like an awesome sci-fi/horror story. I might have to read this one with the lights on.

  10. Danielle Merkle says

    Sounds like a good read

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