I titled this post so you would understand that this is opinion and what works for me. If, one day, I get published, then maybe I’ll retroactively change the title. Until then, if you’re looking for expert advice, I be not the one to which you should turn.
I mean, Gawd, look at that sentence. What does it even mean?
But, dear Internet user, perhaps writer, perhaps good friend of mine or family member, I want you to take this to heart with the force of my sincerity behind it.
The thing is: Not all of these writers are experts. You don’t need to listen to what they have to say. Even Chuck Wendig is full of shit sometimes. Only sometimes. He’s a good one to look at (plus, he has published books!).
I’m not often one to admit this, but writing is hard. There is no easy advice out there to help you write a book. There’s even less to help you get published. There isn’t a rule book, there isn’t a yellow brick road. The best you can hope for is reading about something that works for someone else and finding out that system works for you.
Here’s what works for me:
1) Write more better.
I got this one from A. Lee Martinez. It means write more and you will eventually get better. Or, writing more will eventually lead to better writing. I don’t know, but it means something.
There is a time to put aside a project that isn’t working and start something new. Don’t write one book and bank on that as the one that leads you to fame and fortune. Write more better.
2) Don’t expect fame and fortune.
Do you know how many authors are on the midlist? Do you even know what the midlist is? If you are a bestseller, congratulations! Honestly, good work! But, there are plenty of people who are published and still can’t quit their day job.
Be aware that your little book might not change the world. It might not get you published. It might not even get you an agent. But, if you follow the advice in point #1, maybe, eventually, you will land on something that resonates with enough people to get you published, agented, or off the midlist.
3) Finish it
You can’t keep it up forever. Slap an ending on that sucker, give it a round of revisions, and see where that leaves you. In the mean time, start thinking about something new.
You can always improve. Read good books, read bad books, read magazines, read YA, read Stephen King. Read something and see if you like that style. Read something that you hate, but make sure you identify why you hate it. Keep looking for improvements.
Your head is an echo chamber. Sometimes, the voices of doubt, confidence, paranoia, suspicion, and anxiety bounce around so much, you lose objectivity. Give it to outside eyes.
I went to a public group that involved reading your piece out loud. There are plenty of ways to do this. Someone you trust to tell you the truth, another writer, anything. You need someone to look at your work to answer at least one question:
“Is it a book?”
So, yeah. I guess writing is hard for the simple fact that it’s not easy. You have to work at it. You have to want to improve. You have to do the thing that works for you and, if it doesn’t work, try something else. There aren’t rules, so much as guidelines.
If you try to take a shortcut, you might be disappointed with where the path leads.
Good luck. Be aware. Be careful. I care about you and want you to succeed.
I haven’t blogged this week. I know. Bad writer. Back to your cave.
So, here’s the rundown. There comes a point in every person’s life when they make sweeping assumptions about the human race based on their personal experiences. And, this is one of those times.
I tend to look at my life as a game with specific objectives I’m attempting to achieve. I think this was a week of secondary objectives, which is sort of a terrible thing to say (you’ll see why in a moment).
I cultivated a social life this week.
My main objectives are…not going so well. This may have to do with the fact that I feel like I’ve been treading water. It’s terrible to consider a social life secondary, but hey, I never said I was perfect. I just insinuated…
This last weekend, I wrote a spec script for a television show. After sending it on its merry way (for your eyes only), I decided I wasn’t going to write anything until next Tuesday. Not one word. Except, quotes. And, this blog post, which is hardly coherent.
The demonic writer within me flipped me the bird and hunkered down in the back of my head. It’s been poking me more insistently as the time passes. Last night, it said, “Hey, you know that one scene? What if you do this? You better go jot it on a notecard or something because you’ll forget it by morning.”
Not gonna do it.
Characters are sort of bunching up in my head seeking escape. And that’s just fine.
What to do with all that time?
Reading. That’s a big one. Watching movies. I actually played a little bit of a video game. Played Solitaire for a long time on my iPad. You don’t really notice how long you’ve been playing Solitaire until it’s ten games later and you realize you haven’t blinked in an hour and a half.
But, here’s something cool. I saw friends. Like, real life actual people outside of the Internet box. We talked about stuff. Stuff that mattered. Stuff that didn’t. Stuff that might or might not ever be.
I complained a lot. I’m not making any headway on that main objective of moving out of parents’ house, you know, so I make a stink about it.
It was cool. Sort of nice to see what it’s like to not work all the time. Achievement unlocked.
I’ll be a bit more bloggy next week. Until then, I’m going to sit in the sun and finish reading The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez.
Summer’s here. You should take some time to…you know. Whatever.