What Writers Should and Shouldn't Do
I wanted to write posts on writing about asexual characters and tying in subplots, but those are going to take more brain power than I have right now. However, what I can give you are simple tips of what you as a writer should and shouldn’t do, just to protect your own sanity. Being a writer is insane enough already.
- Don’t think about fame. Don’t write to become famous and make a lot of money, because this business is a starved one. Very few writers are lucky to be able to live off their writing alone. So try to get a job doing something that you love or that you’ll enjoy that may or may not coincide with your writing. I love my job as a marketing trainee and plan to launch my editorial business with my personal assistant when I graduate. And I one day hope to make enough money that the income from my books can be enough; however, I would still probably stay a marketing trainee but let up on the editorial business.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s difficult for me not to compare myself: This author has better ratings than me. This author seems to have more sales than me. Writers quote this author’s book more than mine. And so on and so forth. These are author problems, of course, but we as writers can be an insecure bunch. We look at others and think they write so much better than us. How can we compare? But you’ve got to keep it together in this industry. Your path of success cannot be like another’s path. My idea of success might take more time than someone else’s idea, but I love writing, and I’m going to keep at it. My insecurities are sometimes difficult to let go of, but I have never become bitter about another’s success. I’m going to learn from that success and see how I can apply it to myself.
- Don’t write like your favorite authors. Or try not to. When you first begin writing, your style might be like your favorite author’s, but you’ve eventually got to find your own voice. JK Rowling’s voice is not going to work for you because, well, you’re not JK Rowling. You’re you, and you’ve got to find the writing that makes you you. Your books will be memorable to readers because of your unique voice.
- Keep writing. Keep writing in general, but once you begin the process of submitting a finished manuscript, start working on another one. This will keep you from becoming obsessed with your inbox, refreshing it ten thousand times, waiting for a response from an agent or editor you pitched your book to.
- Don’t write to satisfy a trend. I didn’t write When Stars Die to satisfy the paranormal trend. I had WSD written well before Twilight ballooned the paranormal market. Write the book that you want to write. Don’t worry about what others think until it comes time for feedback. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s going to be popular. You can’t predict any of these things.
- Writing never gets easier. Some books are easier to write than others, but, overall, writing itself never gets easier. You want to write a better book than your previous book, and that takes sheer grit. The sequel to When Stars Die was infinitely harder to write. This contemporary book I’m working on is even harder to write: it started out as a contemporary fantasy, remained a contemporary fantasy—but the story changed entirely—and is now a contemporary book, so utterly changed that it aligns with super early drafts of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Who knew my contemporary fantasy was eventually going to revolve around an asexual homoromantic character? I didn’t see that coming.
- Don’t be afraid to drop a piece that isn’t working. This is sometimes a tough thing to face, because you were so attached to it in the beginning. But if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. HOWEVER, try to find something from the story, even if it’s tiny, to use in a future piece, especially if there are still some things in that story that you cannot let go. I scrapped the first two drafts of the contemporary book I just mentioned. But I’ve kept the main character and his personality, while completely changing everything else. It wasn’t a terrifying decision for me to make. It’s a decision that took a weight off me.
- Just don’t give up. If you love to write, then you need to keep writing, whether or not you ever intend to publish. Life is all about passion, and if writing is your passion, hold on to it.
Hopefully my next post will be about writing asexual characters. I hope. We’ll see how my brain is functioning. Ask Box is always open! It’s a little full right now, but I’m slowly getting to the questions that are in there.