Advice for Writers by Kristen A. Kieffer of She's Novel

Welcome to #FriendFriday, an interview-style guest post series every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Want to be the next interviewee? Send me an email!

Welcome to the first #FriendFriday post on the Blots & Plots blog. How does it work exactly? I send questions to my new friends and post their answers here. I'm happy to host Kristen A. Kieffer of She's Novel as my first guest. Once you're finished reading, hop over to her blog for some amazing writing advice.

And now, without further adieu…

Here's your intro question. Tell me about yourself in less than 70 words. (It's tougher than it sounds.)

I’m just a girl that loves obliterating expectations. I’m a college-quitter, a do-it-yourself learner, and a pursuer of high-reaching dreams. My greatest passion in life is story-telling, followed swiftly by helping others to do the same. I’m also the biggest Lord of the Rings nerd there ever was (next to Stephen Colbert, of course!). I love Medieval Europe, black coffee, vintage dresses, and Oxford commas.

It's no secret that I've fallen in love with your blog. Tell us a big about how you got it started.

I had my first taste of blogging in high school, when I fell in love with fashion and lifestyle blogs. Over the next four years, I began and quit countless of my own, culminating in the creation of Book Jacket in summer 2014. Book Jacket was first a lifestyle blog with the tagline, ‘Style. Literature. Life.’, until I finally had my grand epiphany: I disliked blogging about myself, but I loved teaching others. 

I quickly rebranded Book Jacket as a creative writing blog, wrote some positively awful articles, and began to realize that I wanted to go bigger. I needed to do one final blog overhaul, and that’s where She’s Novel came in to play. 

After months of rebranding, I launched She’s Novel on January 31st, 2015, and it has been such a massive dream come true ever since.

Let's put you to the test. What's your best advice for writers trying to complete their first novel?

Don’t strive for perfection. Just write. 

I know this sounds like awful advice, but hear me out. Just like my first piano recital was riddled with mistakes and my first blog was more embarrassing than messing up the National Anthem at a baseball game, my first novel was positively cringe-worthy. 

And that was a good thing! As a writer, your first novel, or at least the first draft of it, is your baseline work. It reveals to you your strengths and weaknesses, becoming a springboard for far greater work. So let yourself make mistakes. Just get that novel down on paper, and never forget that your best work is yet to come!

If you could be the author of any novel in history, which novel would that be and why?

I spent days mulling over this question! I was tempted to go with more generic answers like Pride and Prejudice or The Hobbit, but they didn’t seem quite right. Finally, I settled on The Princess Bride by William Goldman. 

The Princess Bride is a fantasy novel that has it all: adventure, romance, political intrigue, and general hilarity. It was also made into a movie that quickly became a cult classic and one of my personal favorites. The book itself sweeps you up in its magic, pulling you along on a journey of friendship, sword fights, kidnapping, and true love. As a reader, I lost myself in that book, and that’s all I could ever hope to achieve with my own writing.

And finally, before we let you go, what's the best advice you've received and how did it get you here today?

I’m not sure if the best advice I’ve ever received was even meant to be advice. Nevertheless, it has given me confidence time and time again over the past several years.

In my senior year of high school, I took an advanced placement English class. I wrote countless essays and research papers on literature throughout that year but never a lick of creative writing. At the end of the year, I asked my teacher to sign my yearbook and was shocked by what she wrote. 

“To one of the best writers to ever come through my classroom-I will miss you dearly, and I look forward to reading your novels some day! I’m only half-kidding, you could do it!”

She had no idea that I was immensely interested in doing just that. To have her see that potential in me at a time when I was extremely private about my passion for novel writing has encouraged me in my lowest times and motivated me at my highest. Because of her, I will always remember that believing in my own potential is the first step towards achieving my dreams.

Before I go, I’d just like to give a HUGE thank you to Jenny for being my blogging soulmate, for encouraging and inspiring me in so many ways over the past month. I have had so much fun getting to know you, and I’m honored that you’d have me here today. Stay amazing! -Kristen

Thanks to Kristen for spending some time with us! To find out more, visit She's Novel. If you're interested in being interviewed for the next #FriendFriday, send me an email