I just realized that I’m approaching an anniversary– the 4 year mark of submitting my first story to a publisher. May 30th is when I sent off WOLF SIGNS to an anthology call at Samhain. I’ve learned a lot over the years—you might call it high-intensity training at times. And while I can only speak for myself, here’s a couple things that have made a difference as I’ve traveled the past four years in publishing.
1. Write. Write. Write some more.
I mentioned this in passing last Friday. Maybe if I say it again it will sink in how much this is the ONE thing I think needs to happen. Not only does your craft get better, but you have far more potential of getting to the point of making a living when you have more books in publication. Whatever your thing is, if it’s taking sessions at conferences, reading books on the craft of writing, at some point you need to juggle your brain and make it come out of your fingers. Taking another session won’t make you a better writer if you’re not actually writing.
Me? I don’t like books or sessions. When I’m looking for things to improve I ask people I trust who have intimate knowledge of my books and my process. My editor Anne Scott at Samhain has taught me a ton about how to get the story down bigger and better. My friend Ann Aguirre teaches me about productivity just by her work ethic. Bree of Moira Rogers reminds me to stay focused and to put things in perspective (Yes, I do really have a file on my computer labeled “Bree lectures Viv”. <3 )
Oh, and writing? Means from the beginning alllllll the way to the The End. Not only can you not sell a story if you don’t finish it, the actual (for most authors I’ve talked to) toughest part of many books is getting past the 2/3 SUCKDOM point. Ie starting can be tough to get the right place, or a breeze. The middle can feel like endless loops of nothing-ness, or can be SO EXCITING it passes in a blur. The end can all fall into place, or you can sweat your way through every word.
Rare is the book that has all three of the -good- versions of easy/hard. Finish the damn book. Then finish the next one.
:P Plot bunnies that attack are awesome. I jot down a few ideas and then put them aside to breed while I finish the current WIP.
2. The timewasters. Pick yours carefully.
Okay, I lied. Two things need to be emphasized. We all have things we like to do that distract us. Twitter. Facebook, checking rankings on books, Pinterest, IM. Yahoo groups. Tumblr. Email. Reading blogs. Keeping track of what’s going on in the world around us and staying in contact w friends is awesome. But the more of those things you do, the less you’re writing (see #1).
For every new distraction I pick up, I try to drop an old one, just to keep life in balance. And that doesn’t refer to simply online things. We’ve just bought some land and will be building a house. Along with the travel I’ve still got planned and the contracted books. Guess what? Something’s got to give, and if I don’t want it to be my sanity or my marriage, priorities will be adjusted, again, over the next while.
Never apologize for doing what’s right for you / your family / your career. Outside people looking in don’t know all the details. They don’t know what’s happened overnight in your world. I imagine you, like me, have a pretty good idea if XYZ fits with Life, The Universe and Everything you’re dealing with (that goes on behind the scenes).
I’m not living my life by committee. Neither are you. Be kind to everyone, including yourself.
Writing is supposed to be enjoyable. That’s MY priority. Doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but I demand it be fun. ;) If I have to feed myself gummy bears every 200 words to reach my goal, I WILL find ways to enjoy even the tough moments. Because the shiny moments are so damn shiny, I can’t get enough of them.
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