That's true here. In my opinion there is no way to succeed at writing without really trying, but if you want to try... if you want to succeed... read on, my friends! Because there are tried-and-trued ways to do this thing!
Everyone wants to be an overnight success. Everyone wants to be The Next Big Thing... but no one knows what that is. Unless it's really Bitcoin!!!!
Who expected those spinner-things to take the world by storm? And how many parents and teachers have thrown the things away because they're a mind-draining annoyance?
Who expected a great story about a forlorn, magical boy that lived beneath a staircase to become an international sensation and catapult the author to amazing heights?
Who thought in a country that claims to be 75% Christian (according to a poll asking questions of self-definition) that a book about sexual bondage would sell over 50 million in the USA alone and hit 100 million by 2014 worldwide?
Why am I tossing these facts out there?
Because there is no sure thing. There is no baseline predictor that would have put Harry Potter, Sweet Valley High, Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and James Bond in the same exclusive high sales categories...
So do you have to copy one of these formats to ensure success?
No. No, because by comparison you've already lost. And to be yourself, to be your best writing self, you need to produce the best possible work that makes you happy.
So where do you focus? How do you choose?
1. What do you like to read? This is the first step toward what you write because you should start with something you'd like to read. If you love romance, write romance. If you're big into fantasy, then create your own netherworlds. If you love fearing for your life in the dark of a storm-filled night, write suspense or thrillers. WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE, FIRST. This doesn't mean you're locked in, darlings. It means you've begun. And if you never begin, well... no one goes anywhere without starting somewhere.
2. Prepare for disappointment. It is sure to come. My first book was a brilliant SAGA that went on forever. The first chapter was all telling. No dialogue. No action. Just emotion, how the hero was feeling. DEAD IN THE WATER. That's how bad it was... because I didn't know better. I knew I could write. I didn't know how to naturally just tell a story... Now I do.
3. Is this a hobby? Or a job? If it's a hobby, that's fine. You can write when you want, as you're able, but if it's a job... if this is your career path, your career change, then you need to shake things up a little. Think of the first four years as a college course load in creative writing. You don't have to spend a lot of money. You do have to invest time. You have to write. So set a goal. A reachable goal. 500 words/day for 5 days of the week.
4. Plan your work time. If you were selling Avon or going to a job or free-lancing for someone's firm, you would SET A WORK TIME. That's what we do when we have a job. So set a work time. Before work is what I do... I get up early, I write when no one's around or awake, even the resident mice are generally asleep (although not always) and I write. That way no matter what happens, that job's done.
5. If you're a night owl, then disappear for an hour or ninety minutes when others are watching television or doing puzzles or yelling at the football game, baseball game, basketball game, Olympics, Stock Market exchange, etc., etc., etc.
6. Don't make excuses. Just don't. I pull my hair out (luckily I have really thick hair, birds have been known to make nests in my hair) when people list the reasons they couldn't write. No pencils. No pencil sharpener. The house was too hot. The house was too cold. The stool's too high. The chair's too low. Standing to type hurts my back/side/leg/heel/fill in the blank... If you don't have the burn to do it, that's okay... Trust me, not everyone is meant to do this. And there's nothing wrong with letting it go, retiring, moving on, whatever you need to do to stay sane... If you can quit writing, do it. If you can't... then you're a writer. (R. A. Salvatore) although I've heard this in multiple places... but he's a clever Star Wars writer and I love Star Wars so we'll give R.A. the nod!
7. BUT IF YOU LOVE IT... if there is that dag-blasted burning desire inside you to make up stories, to weave tales, to invest in characters and fix their sorry existences, the existences you created for the poor slobs.... then keep going.
8. Develop self-discipline. THIS MAY BE THE HARDEST PART. If you're a self-disciplined person, then this won't make or break you. But if you aren't... Ouch. This is where we separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls because if you don't push yourself... no one else is going to do it for you! That's the difference between this and that college course load. No one's grading you. You are self-motivated. You're not even guilt-ridden because you are paying big bucks to a liberal arts university to get five people's ideas of what makes a good writer... Without the self-discipline this is Not A Fun Job... if you have to drag yourself to the laptop daily.... and make every excuse not to sit down.... then this is Not A Fun Job....
9. Can you teach yourself self-discipline? DUH! Of course you can. With practice. Sit down. Write. Sit down. Write. Sit down. Write. Remember that anything you make yourself do for THIRTY DAYS becomes a habit. Make writing your habit!!!
10. Love yourself. Love yourself, the amazingly wonderful creature God created you to be no matter if you succeed at writing or not. No matter if you never get that first book done, or you write five and they all stink (Ruthy raises hand on that one). Love yourself because you are special. You are a child of God. You are one of the siblings of the Most High. Wonderful. Counselor. The Prince of Peace. The Everlasting Father. You have it in you to do anything... but it does not have to be this.
And that's it. After publishing 44 novels and novellas with six more on the way in the next eighteen months... and almost 2,000,000 copies sold.... trust me. I know whereof I speak.
|My 45th book and my second mystery with Guideposts... Thank you, Susan Downs for thinking of me with this crazy fun series!|
But even saying that, there is no one right way to do this. There are plenty of wrong ways, and most of us learn from the school of hard knocks, but there are many correct ways... because if you get results, then you're doing all right!
So are you a writer? And what's your stumbling block? Let's chat, just us... :) And maybe a few dozen others, chiming in!
I've got a copy of my newest Mysteries of Martha's Vineyard book "SWEPT AWAY" looking for a home today, but you have to tell me you want it, darlings....
And a quick shout out to Amazon/Waterfall Press whose current $2.00 promotion drove "Welcome to Wishing Bridge" to #1 in three Christian genre categories! And #144 overall out of millions of books. To say I'm excited and thrilled is a gross understatement... What a fun thing to celebrate today!
And there's fresh coffee, tea, hot chocolate and a big ol' pitcher of sweet tea for youse!
Come on in. Visit with The Yank... and we'll talk writing. Just like it should be.