Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Dos and Don'ts For Writers Everywhere

On this first Thursday of 2012 I thought I'd make up a little list based on personal experience of dos and don'ts for writers everywhere.  I'm not saying these are wise adages or one size fits all but these are things useful to me in my career thus far.  Since a year ago, I had one ebook out (Wolfe's Lady) and this year I'm beginning the year with a total of nine novels (two of those also in paperback), more than than twenty five anthologies (all of which were not accrued during 2011), and other credits, I think I've learned a few things.  In fact, I'll be the first to tell anyone I'm still learning and tweaking as I go, striving to find a balance that works.

1. Do write.  Everyday if you can.  Practice may not make perfect but it will improve your writing.  If you want to learn to play the guitar, you must practice everyday and the same applies to writing.  Even if you just scribble a few hundred words, write everyday. 

2. Don't give up.  Never.  No surrender to rejections.  My grandfather handed down a saying to my dad who enforced it on me - there is no such word as can't because you can so get out and do it.   Don't give up.

3. Do grow a thick skin - you'll need it.  If you're going to write today whether you're blogging, penning articles, authoring novels, whatever....sooner or later someone is going to make a less than savory comment about your work.  Sometime, someday someone will say something downright mean.  It's not just possible - it happens.  It may be on an online forum or as a comment or in a e-mail but it will happen and when it does, let the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (couldn't resist the Shakespeare quote) bounce off your rhinocerous like skin.  Same goes for rejection - read it, accept it, learn from it if you can and move forward.

4. Don't sell yourself short.  Never hide your magnus opus in a desk drawer or in a compter file.  Work on it, polish it, submit it - and dream big.  Don't settle for something less than what you want.

5. Do dream.  Dream about what you want to accomplish, where you want writing to take you, set goals and go for the stars.

6.  Do be realistic.  Realize most writers don't top the best seller lists or become millionaires.  Remember even those chosen few who do are seldom an overnight success no matter how the media may present it.

7.  Do read what you write.  Keeping up with what's current is vital in today's marketplace.  So read what you write, know the trends, understand what's going on now and what's likely to trend down the road.

8.  Don't listen to naysayers.  Most of us were told at one time or another by a well meaning English professor, some idiot on an online forum or our best buddy we'll never make it.  We've had the odds against finding publication quoted, cited, and been shown articles about how a slim minority of manuscripts make it past the first stage.  Just do what you want to do and don't let statistics scare you off.  Yes, it's a tough, competitive business but there's no reason to quit before you start.

9. Don't ignore editorial advice.  Learn editors are your friends.  Too many newbies think they've written the perfect novel and they won't need editing but they will.  Just how much, what, and where is open to suggestion but remember editors help you to enhance your work, to improve and strengthen it. 

10. Do be confident.  Although I wouldn't use the phrase "author" to describe myself until I had a book to point toward as proof, I let anyone and everyone know I am/was a writer for the past two decades, citing my magazine articles, short story pubs, newspaper columns, and way back in the beginning, yes, even my radio news stories and advertising copywriting.

11.  Do blow your own horn.  This isn't a business where you can afford to be shy or modest.  Thousands of other books, millions are out there and if you don't promote, point to your work, jump up and down and let people know what you have, where to find it, and about yourself, your novels will get lost in the shuffle.

12. Do create an author or writer persona.  Have a slogan or motto....mine is "Romance that lives and breathes the power of love".  Mix a blend of personal and professional to serve up to your readers.  Post links to your work and put them out where people can and will see them.

13. Do have an online presence.  Use Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other places to network, to be seen and heard.  If you don't have a blog, get one ASAP or two or three.  Have a webpage - and don't kvetch you can't afford one.  There are a lot of free sites where you can set up something.  Mine is on  It's free and it works - for now.  Guest blog whenever, wherever you can.  Beg other bloggers to host you when you have a new release if necessary but get out there.  Participate in blog hops, events, join groups, but get out there.  Get involved in weekly events like Thursday Thirteen, Tuesday Tales, Sunday Snog, #Sample Sunday, Six Sentence Sunday, Weekend Dirty Dozen, and more.

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