Friday, January 25, 2019

Advice from an ill disciplined but 'successful' writer

I'm not good with being told what to do but these TEN things I know about what I see in the world of 'successful' writers. Here's my advice for what it's worth: 

1) you've got to be good, really good, at writing. If you aren't then learn how to be - go to workshops, get a mentor, read good writing.

2) you've got to put the hours in. Mostly I hate it, this writing gig. It's exhausting, frustrating and often boring. And put the hours into the re-writing too.

3) see above - the truth that people don't see is that behind the shiny new book is hours of editing, re-writing, proof-reading and at least two other people's eyes looking at the work.

4) it isn't easy getting your work published. Especially in New Zealand. I have an agent. A well regarded successful New York agent. He's awesome. I have won awards. I have 30 books published. Yet, I have a rejection for every single one of them. Even publishers who have published previous books have turned down my latest.

5) You never 'make it' as a writer - you must continue to hone your craft. I am always reading posts by writers and editors I respect and I am constantly reading good books (and sometimes not good books).

6) I am 'successful' because I give back to the writing community and I try to be involved. In other words, I have made wonderful connections with other writery people who are my 'tribe'. I try to avoid negativity and keep polite - New Zealand is a VERY small place.

7) I am 'successful' because I am open to criticism and am totally willing to rework my writing.

8) I am 'successful' because I don't give up (even though I wish I could - it's exhausting getting rejected over and over)

9) Honestly, in my opinion, you don't want to be like me: I write in bed. I write on the couch, I sometimes write at my desk. I usually don't write enough. Especially lately. I watch HOURS of telly - HOURS. My husband and I love crime shows and thrillers and sci fi (he's a DC man but I love Marvel just as much). I 'could' be writing instead of watching tv but I watch critically and I love it.

10) Finally, if you 'want to be a writer' then you have to write. But, find a way to do that which suits you. When my children were small, I wrote while they 'played' or slept. Later, I wrote during weekends and school holidays. Sometimes I'm really focussed and disciplined; mostly I procrastinate and the birth of social media has been a wonderful distraction. 

Do your writer thing your way and don't feel guilty - unless you're not actually writing at all. In that case, go away and do some. Now. 
Go on.