From the Mouth of an Editor

Get Better.

I'd had all my appointments on Friday so Saturday afternoon, I wandered into the appointment room at the ACFW conference thinking that it would be smart to see if there were any more openings.

There was one, a mentoring appointment with longtime editor, Andy Meisenheimer. I decided to do it though my plan of what to talk with him about was pretty sketchy.

Appointment time came. I popped into the room, shook his hand, sat down (maybe not in that order but I can't remember now) and then frankly told him I wasn't sure what to be mentored on but it seemed like a good idea. I asked him for whatever advice he thought a new author should have.

The poor guy seemed startled at first but he recovered and gave me some of the best advice I've ever heard.

Get Better.

I highly recommend a mentoring appointment if you ever go to a conference. Meisenheimer was knowledgeable, encouraging and I just overall really enjoyed talking to him. I left the meeting with a lot to chew on.

Are you striving to "Get Better"? Do you ever think some authors get stuck in mediocre writing? How do you spur yourself to get better?


Isis Rushdan said…
Even though I have an agent, I'm still taking workshops and reading books on craft. Every time I read a book that simply sweeps me away, it is a remind to try harder, work more ... get better.
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Isis,
Me too. I've always been more of a contented person, which is good in a way, but it also means I lack the drive to push forward into somewhere uncomfortable.
Books and workshops are a great way to spur momentum. Thanks for stopping by. :-)
Jessie Oliveros said…
It's a good reminder that we never reach a "final" goal. We are always growing. :)
Jessica Nelson said…
That's so true, Jessie.
Unknown said…
I've heard of pitching appointments at conferences, but never mentoring.

Great advice. No matter who you are, you always need to challenge yourself to do better than yesterday. This applies to everyone from newbies to bestselling authors.
Jessica Nelson said…
Yep. Thanks for stopping by, Stina. ;-)
Hi Jess -

Sometimes the best advice is the most obvious. :)

Unknown said…
There's some famous Tony Robbins line that's like..."If you aren't climbing you're falling." Or something. Meaning you always have to be striving to be better. You can't get complacent. Same thing, but GET BETTER is much easier to remember :)
I connected w/ him briefly Sat. night and he was hysterical. Get better is potent advice. I'm aiming to do just that (hope I don't miss).
~ Wendy
Sarah Forgrave said…
That is some seriously awesome advice! :) I'm learning this the hard way. I just submitted sample chapters to my agent, thinking they were close to "there". And then she challenged me to make more changes and step up my writing to the next level. It was hard to hear, but she was right. And I'm so glad she's not letting me settle for mediocre. So now I'm working to "get better"...yet again. :)
OH, I love when God sneaks up and does a surprise hug like this, out of your planned agenda. How awesome of Him.

Yes, I hunger and thirst to get better. And it seems to me that some seasoned writers who've made it big get lazy and appear to quit trying. But who am I to judge?
Katie Ganshert said…
I loved meeting Andy! He's a hoot! And that's some great advice right there. Pretty applicable to almost everything.
Linda Kage said…
This is exactly what I've been thinking lately. I'm stuck in a rut. I need to get better. Since I don't have a lot of opportunity or free time for face to face mentoring, I was thinking a self-help writing book would be a good start.
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Susan. Isn't that the truth!

Karen, I know. It's nice and concise. Makes a good chant. lol

Wendy, yes, funny and very, very nice. He made me feel welcome at his table, which was cool.
Jessica Nelson said…
Sarah, kudos to you for taking the advice with such an awesome attitude!!! You'll get where you want to, I just know it. :-)

Jeanette, I have to agree with you about more seasoned writers, though I'll just call it my opinion rather than judging. *grin*

True, Katie.

Linda, that's how I felt. In a rut. Which is why I met up with him. I hope you find an awesome book that gets your creative juices churning. :-)
I think the best way to get better is just to keep writing (workshops are good, too, so you can keep polishing the craft); also, never be afraid to challenge yourself with new book ideas that might seem intimidating at first. :)

Great post, Jessie! And I'm so proud of you for marching into that meeting spur of the moment. That's my pal.
Jessica Nelson said…
hahaaaa, I did a lot of marching while at ACfW. LOL Good advice, Anita!
Joanne said…
I've never heard that writing advice, but love it. It seems so important to evolve and grow with each story we write. I try to get better by reading and writing often, always trying new things :)
Anonymous said…
No matter what we are doing, we can always use coaching to be better, to do our best, even if it is just cookin' that 100th batch of chocolate chip cookies!
I think some definitely "settle" or get themselves in such time crunches that they can't possibly submit their best.

I've always wondered what I would ask in a mentoring session. I like your question! Next time I'll have to try that out.
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Joanne,
I think that definitely helps to grow us. :-)

Mmmmm, LYNN! I think I need to do that today!!! Good idea. *wink*

Eileen, I believe you're right. I hope I'm careful with my contracts and balance myself out okay. As for mentor questions, I got some advice from Katie G beforehand. :)
Sandra Orchard said…
I find critiquing for others helps me to be more alert to my own weak spots. I also try to read something on the craft of writing every day, whether it's a blog or a chapter of a book on writing craft, and then try to apply it to my current WIP.
Patti said…
Funny how sometimes the best advice is so simple.
Lisa Jordan said…
Fantastic advice. It can be applied to every area of our lives.

When I received my first book contract, a friend said I had arrived. My response was something like, "Nuh I have to prove I can do it again, but even better."

We need to keep studying the craft and sharpening our skills.
Loree Huebner said…
We must always keep learning and moving forward.

You got some great advice! Thanks for sharing.
Jessica Nelson said…
Sandra, that's so smart. I've been remiss when it comes to craft books.

Patti, you remember KISS? lol Also, I know I've heard people recommend writers to keep growing their craft, but to hear an editor say it really hit home.

Lisa, that is SO true!!

You're welcome, Loree! :-)
Jaime Wright said…
Oh my! I thought by your opening line you were sick. LOL But what great advice toward a writer ... Get better!!
once you think you've's over. to be constantly searching for ways to improve your craft is to me doing your very best as unto the Lord.

go Andy! :)

the character therapist
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Jaime! I hope I don't get sick!!

Jeannie, good point, and I agree. ;-)
Brandi Boddie said…
I find that reading books on writing techniques and keeping up with other writers helps me to improve. I can simply be browsing on my blogger dashboard and stumble upon tips from authors that I would never have thought of myself.
Jill Kemerer said…
Love this advice! I'm always searching for ways to improve my writing.

One thing that helps me clarify a technique is to teach it. Even just creating an article on the subject forces me to gain a better understanding of it.
OH, good one! The best advice I ever got was at one of my early play readings. Everyone loved the reading, but one person said, 'I love the character of Emily, but I'n not sure I care about her. Why should I care?'

Why should I care about that character? I think it works for plays and novels.
Lauren F. Boyd said…
How awesome that you got to have that session with Andy! I bet it was eye-opening to get to talk to an editor.

And I hope things are going well with your editing process with LI! When's your book due out?

Thanks, too, for commenting on my blog! It's great to see you!
Faith said…
Meisenheimer is great. I went to a few of his sessions at a conference here a few years ago, and I've since been a contributor to a great project he started called storypraxis ( And you know, that IS great advice!!! I think there are many authors out there who get stuck in mediocre writing, or who even regress once they've "made it" and feel a little too secure in their position. It's sad... what is life if not a chance to continually learn and grow?
Nancy said…
Revisions and writing more are two of the ways I used to get better.

I'm sure there are books and books of other ways. I like Andy's advice because it was simple.
What great advice! I'm determined to improve and write to the best of my ability.

Time to edit. :)

Janet, said…
that is great advice. We all need to get better. I have improved greatly since I started writing around 4 years ago, but I still have a long way to go.

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