What I have learned since my Writing Journey began almost six years ago
You can’t be an author without being a reader;
You can try, and you might even sell some books, but you have to have a love of reading to get a grasp on writing. I am a voracious reader. The world fades away when I pick up a great book, and I live in that world. I read Nora Robert’s “The Obsession” and couldn’t put it down. I remember picking up Ruth Cardello’s “Taken Not Spurred” and I was just going to do a 30 minute bath and then get back to my friends since we were on a girl trip. Two hours later, my bath water was cold, my friend’s were wondering if I had drowned. I got so hooked on the book, I didn’t want to leave the wonderful world I had entered. I love to read, will always love reading, and that’s why I love to write. It goes hand in hand.
Respect those who have come before and after you;
There are so many amazingly talented writers out there. They have so much wisdom to share. If they are speaking then I will be listening. My very first RWA conference, I went and listened to Nora Robert’s talk. She was brilliant. I was so dang nervous to meet her. I almost chickened out, but my bestie literally dragged me to the front of the room for a pic with her. She was my idol then, and she still is today. She paved the road for authors like me to have a career. How? She worked her butt off, day and night and she didn’t give up. We’ll talk about that in the next pointer 🙂 but the main thing is to have respect for your fellow authors, whether they are new old established. We all have ideas of what we want our fictional worlds to be. I’ve learned so much from speaking to other authors. And I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. I’m so grateful to be a part of it all.
I know a lot of our fans might think this life is pure glam. Oh, how wrong they would be. For 2 years, I didn’t leave my house. I wrote, did social media, edited, checked email, researched … and on and on 7 days a week, 14 hours a day for 2 years straight. Now, I’ve slowed down a little bit. I work normally 5 to 6 days a week for about 10 hours a day. I had to give myself some free time because I had to let my mind refresh so my writing didn’t get stale. But if all you want to do is write a book and hit publish, you might be disappointed in what happens. It takes time, it takes editing, it takes research, and it takes marketing. You have to run this like a business, and you have to remember that it’s a very high percentage of small businesses that don’t make it past the first year. Don’t let that happen to you. Work hard, and keep working hard and be proud of the accomplishments you achieve.
You can’t write a story without living;
Sometimes I lock myself in my house for weeks or even months at a time. I forget to live life. And then I will go on a business trip, or a book signing, or take the kids to the park. And wam! I get new ideas for stories I’m working on and future stories. So I try to remember that and make myself leave the comfort of my home to go out in the real world. There is so much life out there to witness, and we’re more knowledgeable when we soak it all up.
No matter how popular your books have become, we all started with an idea that soon turned into a story, and then actually sold a few copies. Even if you have 5 million sales, it started with 1. We all started with a dream that turned into reality. So be kind to other authors to our fans who make this life possible, to our family and friends. Be kind no matter how tired you are, no matter what is going on in your life. When I’m home, if I’m having a bad day, I can go in my room, I can tell my husband I’m overwhelmed and need to be left alone. He will understand, he might even give me a foot rub while he quietly assures me that everything is okay. But when we’re at a conference or a signing, our fans know us as an author. They don’t know that we might have just been on our feet for 15 hours and we’re so tired we could fall asleep if we leaned on a wall, they don’t know our kid is home with a high fever, they don’t know our beloved pet just passed away and we’re heartbroken. They just know that they love our books, that they came a long way to see us, and that they will remember those few minutes with them. We want to make sure they don’t regret taking time from their busy lives. A first impression will last a lifetime. So no matter how tired you are, remember that we couldn’t have the career we love so much without fans (which also include other authors). So be kind, and then we can fall asleep on top of the covers with our clothes still on once we get to our room.
Don’t be Fake;
This is a point where a lot of people will disagree with me on, but writing to me is incredibly personal. I’m giving you a look inside my head and my heart. I write with both. I use stories from my real life inside my books, and you get to hear my voice. To me that is incredibly personal. Which means I need to like the people I work with. I can’t fake a relationship. I can’t put a smile on my face and shake your hand and make a deal if I don’t think you’re a good person. In this world, there’s a lot of wheeling and dealing. That’s all par for the course. But be honest, and true and you can still be kind and still say “no thank you” which I think is important. Be yourself and appreciate who you are or who you’ve become. I used to dread speaking to people. I grew up poor and had a rough time in school for a lot of years because I didn’t think I was good enough. When I joined the world of writing, I had to change, had to go outside my comfort zone and fake it until I made it. I pretended to be outgoing, pretended I wasn’t wanting to run away and hide in my room. The great thing about that is that now I don’t have to pretend. I love getting to meet new people, I love hearing other author’s stories, and I love sitting down and sharing a drink and a laugh. This life is amazing. Embrace it and love it and be yourself. Don’t lie, and don’t lower your standards. Don’t just seek out connections for those on top. I want my friendships with other authors to be strong. I will love them the same whether they are at the top of the charts or the bottom. I want the same from them. And I don’t want to do business with someone who only wants to speak to me if I am a top seller that week. Because I won’t ever give up on this career I love, and I’m my strongest advocate. So be kind and be genuine.
I will continue thinking about the things I’ve learned and sharing with you. Thank you so much for reading what I write, and thank you for embracing me in this world. I don’t think an author ever retires, that’s for sure. There will always be a story to be told.