A person can learn a lot from the children's story, The Three Little Pigs...especially if you are a new writer like myself. We all know the story; these three pigs decide to build three different houses to try and protect themselves from the big, bad wolf. Now, think of those same little piggies as three different beginner writers and this is where the story gets interesting.
Piggie #1 decides to build his house out of straw. Unfortunately, this does not make for a strong home and the wolf quickly destroys it. Beginner writers who depend solely on the well-meaning words of friends and family to tell them what a great story they have written, end up building a writing career of straw. Their own ego is the only thing driving their writing and one blunt critique from an editor or agent will quickly destroy their confidence in their own writing ability.
Piggie #2 decides to build his house out of sticks. It's a little bit stronger than his brother's, but the house has a lot of holes in the construction and the wolf can easily see what he has to do to destroy it. Beginner writers who listen to friends and family but who also read an occasional article about the craft of writing or maybe even show a manuscript or two to a critique group will still not have built a writing career strong enough to stand up to industry critics. Their lack of research into what makes up a good story and their inability to commit to the hard work involved in the actual learning of how to become a great writer prevents them from standing out in the crowd of other mediocre writers.
Piggie #3 decides to build his house out of bricks. The foundation is strong, the work put into the building of it is tedious, but in the end this home can withstand any storm that comes its way. That poor wolf doesn't stand a chance. Beginner writers who want to become great authors will seek the wisdom of established, published writers who have come before them. They will look for ways to improve their own writing; whether through special classes, reading specific articles, or receiving input from many critique groups. Their own writing foundation will be strong and their confidence in their work will be evident.
What type of beginner writer are you? For myself, I'm piggie # 2 and 3/4ths. I have quickly realized that the kind words of family and friends do not guarantee that my manuscript is polished enough to be published yet. I believe in myself and my writing, but I have to find ways to be able to commit more time to my work if I want to be a great writer some day. And I have already created opportunities for me to learn much more about the craft of writing and continue each day to gather the wisdom of other established authors so that I may use their words as reference guides to improve my own writing. There is always more I can learn, more I can do until I can become Piggie #3, but I'm close. So watch out you big, bad wolf...pretty soon I won't have to worry should you decide to come knocking...I'll be ready for you!