With my fourth book in four years coming out in just a few weeks, I’m thinking about what I’ve learned over the past four years. What I’m going to do more of, less of, as my new baby, Burnt Out, makes its debut in the reading world:
• Staying loose. There are ups and downs in this whole author business. A lot of it I can’t control. A lot of it my publisher can’t control. When will books appear in the store, on Amazon? What will reviewers think or not think? Whether they will read or review my book at all? “Lower your expectations,” a boss once said. “Especially when it’s not making the things that are supposed to be fun not very fun,” I’d like to add.
• Writing. The new book is out, and the others are still out there. The whole game is about the work. Keep working. Keep discovering. Keep creating. Keep getting better.
• Relationship building. Go to the events I enjoy (Tweet Ups, other authors’ events, TC Sisters in Crime meetings).
• Celebrating other writers’ successes. I’ve met some fantastic writers in the past few years. It’s a lot of fun to see them be successful, hear about their journeys, and read their books.
• Arty stuff. Go to movies, plays, museums. Feed the soul. Restore it. Get out of my head and into some other artist’s vision.
• Reading. Read the good stuff and think about why it’s so good. Analyze books that don’t work for me, and understand why.
• Submitting. There’s a lot in the slush pile yet to get published. Keep it all moving through the process.
• Worrying about what other people think of the book, the last book, the next one. Taste differs, and it’s easier to worry less when I’m doing more of the “do more” list, particularly more writing.
• Comparing myself to other writers. Does it really change anything about my work if another writer has a new publishing contract/great review/award/news story? No, it does not. It’s all about my work, which is a creative journey. I need to stay on that personal journey. Stay on track writing about what I care about – not what the market might or might not buy.
• Wasting non-writing time thinking I don’t really have time to write. There’s always time to write a paragraph or a page. There’s always a half hour here, fifteen minutes there.
• Writing in areas that do not work for me. I’ve been realizing more lately that some writing forms I just don’t get. It’s a waste of my time to mess around with forms I don’t have a feeling for. If I’m not in love with my characters or their story, I need to stop immediately and go to the project that I believe in.
• Responding to submission calls that offer payment in ‘cool’. There has to be more in it than getting into the right crowd. Gotta have a feeling for something to write well about it.