Yep, one of these posts. You know, kind of like the retrospective videos EVERYONE’S done on Facebook; looking back on the year with fond (or not so) memories and a lens smeared with rosy nostalgia of days recently passed by.
Since it was sooo much fun on Facebook, is there any reason not to do it here? Yes, actually. Many reasons, but I’m doing it all the same.
So, here are a few things I learned about writing from this past year:
Write what you love:
I’ve said this before; I’ll say it again. If you aren’t writing something you aren’t passionate about then you’re going to have a hard time putting in the time and effort needed to make it great. Why waste your life writing books you don’t find fun? Is it because you want money? Fame? Recognition?
All bad reasons.
Okay, guilty! I didn’t exactly listen to my own advice, per se. Not that I’m writing for money. No…definitely not for money.
I’m mainly referring to my mindset earlier in the year that made me think I shouldn’t write middle grade books because they’re ‘too childish’ (Ha! I’ve never had a problem being ‘too childish’). I thought I couldn’t do it. I thought it wasn’t right.
But here’s the rub: I like middle grade books. They’re funny, they’re clever, the good ones teach good lessons. I love reading them, and for a time I loved writing them. Then I stopped and ‘moved on’. But now I’m back. And loving it again.
Write what you love.
Take Your Time:
The three words that are the bane of my existence. The nails on the chalkboard of my mind, so to speak.
I’m a naturally impatient person. In elementary school I’d rush through my homework in class just so I wouldn’t have to take anything home. I’m the kind of guy who fidgets in his seat like the Flash on a five shot espresso fix.
But impatience doesn’t work with books. You can’t just pound one out in a rush and expect it to be your best work. Like a garden, books need time to ruminate in your mind, to grow and flourish, to sprout and spread, to….some other garden related metaphor.
Due to my own self-imposed deadlines I wasn’t giving myself the time necessary to get a quality book out. I learned to take my time this year, but it was painful. Agonizing, even. Mostly in the editing stages when I got my book back from readers with roughly about two billions comments.
But these were all necessary steps. I find now that my books are deeper, the characters richer, and I actually enjoy getting to know the world and story far more than I ever had before.
It takes time to build an author platform. I guess this could also go under impatience lesson, but what the heck.
Building an author career takes time. Building an author career that will actually last takes even longer. Sure, you could be like that guy who finds overnight success and makes oodles of money right out of the gate, but in the long run, that tactic probably won’t pay off as well as paying your dues now and learning the craft and business to succeed.
But it sucks. A lot.
This year I’ve seen my author platform grow quite a bit. My sales have shot up and steadied, I have more books out, my cover designs are more professional, my social media has grown.
But I still want more. That’s good. Keeps the fire in the belly. However, learning to be content with what I’ve done and where I’m at will do wonders for my sanity. Yours too.
So try to be content with what you’ve accomplished. And know that ‘content’ is not the same as ‘settled’. It means acknowledging what you’ve done, then trying to do better.
And that’s all I got. No painful retrospective, no abhorrent gushing, just a few solid lessons that I’ve (hopefully) learned.
A here’s to hoping 2017 is that much better.