The Best Advice I Could Have Given Myself

SignatureCountry artist Brad Paisley released a song in 2007 titled “Letter to Me,” in which he gives his teenaged self advice for the future. It makes me think about what I would have advised myself thirty years ago when I began my freelance writing career. So, with a tip of my own cowboy hat to Brad, here’s my letter to my younger self!

Dear Jan,

I am you thirty years from now, and I want to give you some advice about writing.

  1. Get a day job. You are never going to be on Oprah talking about your bestseller. (Oprah is a person with a very influential talk show in the future. She has a book club, and Tom Cruise jumps on her sofa. Enough said.) Accept the fact that your writing habit will never financially support you. Fortunately, your husband will, so be sure to say “Yes” when a guy named Tom proposes to you. You’re going to think he’s just trying to cheer you up because your car’s water pump broke down, but he’s serious. DO NOT LAUGH IN HIS FACE, because he will never let you forget it. (Although it will make a great blog post. A blog is …never mind. You’ll find out later.)
  2. No matter what you think, your first and second book manuscripts are trash. Really, they are. It would be nice to just skip writing them altogether to save time and effort, but if you don’t write them, you won’t write your third book, which will find a publisher. Just thought I’d let you know.
  3. You’re going to meet a woman named Belinda. Don’t ever tell her you’ve written a book, because even though she’s going to be one of your best friends, she’s going to drive you crazy with her constant stream of ideas for books SHE wants to write. If she ever brings up that she’s thinking about writing a book, immediately change the subject. (You can thank me later.)
  4. Write a YA romance series about a vampire and a high school girl. Believe it or not, it will sell and launch a publishing trend. I’m serious.
  5. Speaking of serious – stop taking yourself so seriously. There are many, many writers out there. The bad news is that you have to compete with them for contracts. The good news is that the writers you meet will absolutely enrich your life, if not your pocketbook. (Reread #1 above.)
  6. Don’t give up writing. You will get published. You will also get rejections, but that’s part of the package, so get over it and get it out of the way. It will give you more time to write and more confidence in your writing. Writing is your gift, so enjoy it, develop it, invest time and effort in it, and it will reward you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.
  7. Finally, if you ever have a chance to buy stock in a company named Apple, you might want to do that.

Love you!


What advice would you give your younger self?

20 Replies to “The Best Advice I Could Have Given Myself”

  1. Thanks for a great post. I was laughing at the Oprah comment and the buying shares. Some awesome advice. Um, I think I would tell myself to stop all the self-doubt. I would tell myself to believe in myself and not be scared of someone saying no. I have recently discovered the power of having the confidence to just say yes! I’d definitely tell myself to take opportunities! Jan, please consider joining my support group for writers, bloggers and poets. It is such a lovely group of people and we’d love your input.

    1. Thanks for the invitation, Alana! Saying ‘yes’ is such good advice – I can’t tell you how many wonderful unexpected opportunities have come my way because I said yes.

  2. Jan – we have to meet sooner rather than later! Love this post. Clever. Creative. Just plain fun. Energized me during my late night editing break. Thanks!

    1. Belinda is one of the reasons I hesitate to mention that I’m a writer to people I meet. One Belinda is enough! Enjoy the journey, Carol!

  3. Great post, Jan! I love your first one about getting a day job. During my first writing conference, I kept hearing, “Don’t quit your day job.” The only problem–I had JUST quit my day job. Ugh!

    But as I prayed about that advice, God reminded me that He had led me to quit my job. Plus, I needed that freedom, due to the several years of family crises that followed that decision.

    Btw, I think that’s the key in any situation – seek God first before you quit your day job or make any commitments. I’ve discovered that He is always faithful to guide me with His peace.

  4. I agree, Karen. Seeking God first is the key, although learning to recognize Him is often a challenge in itself. Prayer and the discernment of friends has helped me out more than once.

  5. Time is always passing,our life just like a drama,we can’t design and control it but we can try our best to change it,nothing is impossible

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