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Everyone’s writing journey is unique. For many of us, publication is the end goal. Still, there are many ways to reach it. I think it’s important to note that one particular way is not better than the other. We each have to make personal choices regarding how we decide to get our writing into the hands of readers. Those readers will likely know little about the hard work, mixed emotions, and sacrifices that were made in order to make the final product. Readers’ journeys begin when they open the book and embrace the characters we’ve created.

A writer’s journey begins before they even put pen to paper or type the first word. As a writer, being authentic is one of the most important pieces of the writing journey. Its importance comes up in our personal and professional lives. When brainstorming ideas, it’s important to tell stories that are meaningful to you. This doesn’t mean you have to write something that’s emotionally heavy. I’m of the opinion that you write a stronger story when you have a personal connection to it. After all, you’ll be spending a great deal of time cultivating your story. If you’re writing stories strictly because you think they’re trendy, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Sure, it may sell. The personal satisfaction, however, will be different.

Being authentic is also essential when connecting with others in the industry. Instead of trying too hard to fit in, especially on social media platforms, allow others to get to know the real you. Someone will find your kindness and quirks endearing. (We writers do tend to be a quirky bunch.) You’ll have the potential to develop long-lasting friendships. Not all of these friends will support you the same. Some may turn into critique partners. Some may become your loudest cheering squad. You’ll want them to be proud of who you genuinely are and not a persona you’ve developed.

In my debut—NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE—the main character, Tameika, is joyously authentic. She is good at her craft. She practices it. She takes pride in her accomplishments, and she never stops dreaming of more. Her positivity and commitment to doing what she loves is infectious. It’s not until her emotional energy is spent that we see how she gets replenished from those she loves.

I’ve boiled it down to two specific ways to have an authentic writing journey:

1. Be Yourself What do you stand for? What are you passionate about? When your book is published, it will be a piece of you that’s out in the world. Choose how you want to represent yourself, and let that come out in your work. Something else to consider is how you present yourself on your platforms. Don’t try to be something you’re not. You’ll find it more exhausting to keep up a façade, and you won’t get the benefit of genuine connections.

2. Be a Team Player It costs nothing to be kind. Be there for people, and they’re likely to be there for you. Support others. The writing journey doesn’t have to be a lonely one. You should be able to easily identify who is on your team. Your team members may change as you are on your writing journey, but their goal should remain the same. They should all want what’s best for you. Depending on where you are in your journey, your team may consist of the following: friends, family, agent, editor, publisher, critique partners, writing groups, etc.

For more about Ashley, visit

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