Meet Guest Author, Sabrina Fedel

 Sabrina Fedel is an award-winning writer and author of the YA novel, Leaving Kent State.

Recently, a poet friend from my MFA in creative writing program reached out to me for some advice on writing for kids for a teacher colleague of hers who has a first draft of a story and doesn’t know what to do next.

 My first response was that I’d be happy to try to help. My second was to say that my advice would really depend on what this writer wants from her writing. It’s easy to assume that everyone writes with the hope of being published, but that’s not true for everyone (as David Rogers writes about in his blog). As Rogers points out, there is even evidence to suggest that writing solely for internal goals improves one’s creativity and enjoyment of writing.

 But the reality is that most of us would love to see our name in print, to share our glorious stories with others, and to have them want us to share these darling creations with them. Most of us would probably also like to get paid for this. While I adhere to the premise that you are a writer if you write, I also waited to call myself a poet until someone actually paid me for a poem. Do as a say and all that. Some of us dream of being able to make a living as a writer, even if we don’t also dream of being famous. Some of us want it all, the whole Steven King experience.

So, the first step to figuring out how to be a “writer” is to find out what goals a writer actually has for their writing. The second step is for a writer to "know thyself." Writing with the aim of being traditionally published is a very different path from being self-published. It’s important to understand the differences to assess which path is the right one for you. Both paths have their benefits and drawbacks. For some, one or the other may be the right direction. For others, they may get traditionally published and then decide to self-publish. Or vice-versa.

Setting goals will also help a writer figure out what they need in their creative process. For me, a writers’ group is essential. Being part of a writing community is essential. For others, it may not be (though most of us should be open to critique, because even the best writers can improve from seeing their work through someone else’s eyes. It’s fun to think of Jane Austen concocting her stories alone in the countryside, but her family listened to her drafts and likely gave her feedback). I highly encourage you to find your community. With the internet at our fingertips, it can be done much more easily than in Austen’s day!

Finally, I think a writer needs to understand how important writing is to them. For me, writing is something I need to do. It’s a source of joy, self-understanding, and solace in a world that I often don’t understand. It keeps me grounded and present. It helps me get up on the days when getting up seems too hard. As country singer Luke Combs says, I’d still be doing this if I weren’t Doin' This

But, if writing isn’t all that to you, that’s okay, too. The important part is to understand what you want out of your writing journey and what you need from it. For some, the difficulties of getting traditionally published are extremely disheartening. I’ve been there myself. And it’s okay to quit when you get to that point, and it’s okay to keep going because you still want to write even if no one ever reads your words outside of your writers’ group. But understanding what you need, and what you are willing to go through to try to achieve your writing goals, is an important part of the journey. Because goals are just that, something to aspire to. Once you’ve brushed off the eraser marks from the page, the important part is whether you want to start over, no matter what. The important part is to know whether the journey is as important as the finished product.

 Happy writing!

Learn more about Sabrina on her website.