I read many things during my working week and I often come up with a list of do’s and don’ts, which I rarely keep to. But thinking about it, there are some hard and fast rules that we should all stick to. I’ve put together 25 points that might well apply to you and I hope you find it useful and interesting. Naturally as I progressed with the points I realised I still make some of the same mistakes!
1. Keep going in the right direction
You have your manuscript on the go. This is your career and your story and you need to pursue it. Your writing will never chase you and this is true of individual components. You want one thing but then work to achieve its opposite. You’re writing a novel, so why go and write poetry instead? Pick a thing and work towards it.
2. Keep the momentum going
Keep going! Remember, momentum is everything. Stop fiddling around and keep striving towards your goal.
3. Keep writing in your voice
You should write in a way that only you can write. Use your own voice and not somebody else. You might have begun that way, but you have to get into your groove. This is going to be a big theme at the start of 2012 — discover those elements that comprise your voice.
4. Keep to the path & stop worrying
Worrying is useless and does nothing for you. Forget about what Amazon is doing – it is out of our control anyway. The only thing we can do is identify trouble spots and work round them. Keep calm and cool.
5. Keep going but what’s the hurry?
There’s been a huge rise in the quantity of writing, but writing needs time spent on it. There’s no judgement in how quickly you can get a dozen titles out, more likely you’ll be judged on how well you write those titles. Stories are like fine wine and beautiful women; they need time. So take the time. There’s a balance, and generation and creativity should not come at the cost of quality. Give your stories and your career the time and patience it needs.
6. Keep it up!
This means, don’t fall asleep! Life rewards action, not inertia and to reap the rewards of the future, you must take action in the present.
7. Keep a clear head when it gets harder
Will it get easier? Anything worth doing requires lots of hard work. You choose this career and you can’t expect a free ride.
8. Keep your writing a priority
You get to be a proper storyteller by putting your work at the top of your list You know you’re a writer because it’s not just what you do, but rather, it’s who you are.
9. Keep your body lean and fit
Our bodies fuel our minds and the mind is the writer’s best weapon. Let all that rubbish out! Eat well and take lots of exercise. This also clears the mind and it works well for me.
10. Keep a positive mind
By complaining you’ll find it does nothing useful for you when it comes to your work. If you don’t like something then go and fix it. If you can’t fix it then for heaven’s sake, move on to the next thing.
11. Keep true and don’t blame your failures on anyone else
Some people always place the blame on others for their failings. You hear a lot of blame going on around you .You are dealing with your own life and that means your successes and your errors. This career is yours. Sometimes external factors will step in your way, but it’s up to you how to react.
12. Be proud of what you do
Believe it or not, writers are often ashamed at who they are and what they do. We all have to remember we are doing what we want to do. Sometimes people won’t respect you, maybe they’re jealous but remember this - writers and storytellers help make this world go around. We’re just as much a part of the societal ecosystem as anybody else. Craft count and art matter and stories are important.
13. Remember your gaffs but don’t go overboard about your mistakes
We all mess up somewhere along the line. But what’s the point in sitting and dwelling upon it? The best thing is to earn and move on. Very few mistakes will haunt you till your end of days unless you let it haunt you.
14. Take some risks
We could make 2012 the year of the risk. Nobody knows what’s going on in the publishing industry, but we can be sure that what’s going on with authors is that we’re finding new ways to be empowered in this New Media Future. What that means is, it’s time to forget the old rules and it’s time to start questioning preconceived notions and established conventions. It’s time to start taking some risks both in your career and in your storytelling.
15. Control only what you can
The industry, reviews and the Amazonian business practices? The economy? The readers? You can’t control any of that. You can respond to it. You can try to get ahead of it. But you can’t control it so learn to control what you can, which is your writing and the management of your career.
16. Learn to diversify
Diversification is the name of survival for all creatures: genetics relies on diversification. Things are changing big in these next few years, from the rise of eBooks to the fall-off in more traditional publishing. Diversity of form, format and genre will help ensure you stay alive in the coming entirely-made-up Pubpocalypse.
17. Find your market and set your own trend
What I mean is, stop writing for ‘The Market’. The Market is an unknowable entity based on sales trends and educated guess-work and some kind of publishing hoo-hah. Find your own market, your own loyal followers and write for them by setting your own trend. Don’t chase others like a dog chasing a cyclist. Public trends offer artists a series of diminishing returns and by following you’re just watering it down. Do your own thing.
18. Care about what you’re doing and not what every other writer is doing
They’ll do their own thing and as you’re not them - you don’t want to be them and they don’t want to be you. Why do what everyone else is doing? Let me reiterate: do your own thing.
19. Know the publishing industry
Know the industry, but don’t be overwhelmed by it.
20. Make up your own mind
You’ll hear, “I don’t think this can sell.” That might be right. But — I’d bet that all the stories you remember, all the tales that came out of nowhere were stories that were once flagged with the “this won’t sell” moniker. You’ll always find someone to tell you what you can’t do or what you shouldn’t do. Your job as a writer is to prove them wrong. Write the best story you can write.
21. Whoa! Keep to a manageable timetable
We can’t do everything at once. We all want grand plans! Epic 23-book thriller series! Don’t go overboard! Concentrate on what you can complete. Temper risk with reality.
22. Put yourself on the page
You are your stories and your stories are you. Who you are matters. Your experiences and feelings and opinions count. Put yourself on every page. If we cannot connect with our own stories, how can we expect anybody else to find that connection?
23. Dreaming? Get going…
Stop dreaming and start doing. Dreams are great for children. Dreams are fanciful flights of improbability. Remember you’re an adult now and it’s time to wake up or stay dreaming.
24. Are you afraid?
I hope not as fear will stop you dead. You just need preparation and pragmatism to get on with your task. Everybody who wanted to be a writer and didn’t make it, failed based on one of two reasons: one, they were lazy, or two, they were afraid. Fear is nonsense. What do you think is going to happen? Being a writer is nothing worthy of fear. It’s worthy of praise and triumph. So put your fears aside and let this be your year.
25. Keep reading this blog!
Seriously, there’s a wealth of talent around and you can pick up great tips from reading other blogs – especially if they relate to you and your writing career. Keep on writing!
A quick roundup of the past week.
The past week has been amazing. Since, “The Assassins’ Village reached those lofty heighted positions on Amazon.com #47 and Amazon.co.uk #17 respectively, the book has continued to stay high in the rankings and on many lists.
A big plus is that “The Assassins’ Village” is also constantly up and down on the “movers and shakers” list – as high as #1 - and is currently at #39! It’s been great fun watching!
Please let me once again thank everyone who has bought a copy, I certainly couldn’t do it without you.
Have a great weekend and the week ahead. I’m visiting England for a wee while to see my family and I’m looking forward to spending time there.