agent odds are (not) in your favor

It’s a new year full of new goals. These are typically made up of word counts, edits, queries, deadlines, and the dream of book deals (at least for me).

In an industry where the odds don’t seem in our favor, it might be time to admit the truth: they aren’t.

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Sarah La Polla of Bradford Literary Agency wrote an end-of-year post where she shared her query stats. While this is different for every agent, it really puts numbers out there for (us) writers.

You can read her original post here, but in the end it came down to her receiving almost 4,000 queries in 2017. (And she was closed to queries for the summer!)

Let’s think about that number.

4,000.

Now, I’m not a true statistics person. I wish I could pull out how many queries writers send out on average, how many rejections writers get, and so forth. But in the end, it doesn’t work that way because this business is so subjective. (That’s what I’m telling myself so I don’t have to think much past the number above emboldened… and so I don’t even have to attempt any math.) One writer might get 100 rejections while another gets an agent their first time up to bat.

But the truth is, there are a lot more writers than there are agents- and we all want to volunteer as tribute.

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It can get discouraging to keep pushing on, project after project and/or query after query, in hopes of securing the agent of our dreams. And even then, if we are blessed with an agent, we have to go through the process all over again with editors/publishers. It’s never ending. And that agent might not be the one. You might have to go through the process with another agent before going through it with an editor or publisher. And the cycle continues!

So, why do we do it?

I can’t answer that question for you. I really can’t.

For me, it’s the desire I’ve had since I was about six-years-old to have my books on shelves at your nearest bookstore. To share the stories that I have embedded in my soul and are begging to get out into the world.

It’s because that no matter the ruts, no matter the breaks, no matter what life throws at me- I’m always craving words. Words, words, and more words.

I don’t show you the post from Sarah to depress you, but rather to encourage. The odds might not be in your favor, but know that if you keep working and pushing and dreaming and diving- you can be the exception to the rule.

You can be the one-in-four-thousand. 

Say it out loud. Be at peace with it.

The odds are not in your favor.

That way, when that agent and/or publisher comes calling- you’ll be even more proud.

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give thanks for your writing

In a competitive business where everyone is hoping to make a break, it’s hard sometimes to be thankful for the season you’re in.

You might just be starting out with your novel (it is NaNoWriMo after all). You might be querying, starting with your new agent, on you third agent, about to score that deal, releasing your fifth book– who knows!

The thing is, the publishing industry is a crazy, scary, beautiful place. If we didn’t know that, we wouldn’t be writers… but sometimes it’s easy to forget it.

This is just a small reminder to give yourself a pat on the back, and it’s as much for me as it is for you, reader. Remind yourself that you’re amazing because you’ve actually put words to paper. You are one step ahead of those that “want to find time” or “always wanted to write.” And if you are one of those later people that I’ve mentioned, there is never a better time than now to start.

Yes, now. I mean, maybe finish reading this…but then get your butt off here and start writing your own words.

There are never going to be perfect conditions. Maybe you think you need to work for a while so you have the time to really focus on your writing after, or maybe you want to build your family roots before you write that best seller– but if you put off writing over and over and over again… eventually you’ll miss it.

Set your mind to it. Write. Even if you can’t come up with that amazing idea, just start writing something, anything.

Anything is better than nothing.

Give thanks, writer. You are in a beautiful season- even if you don’t think you are. There’s always something beautiful to find…and something beautiful to write.

depression, boredom, and the creative mind – a guest post from JD Buffington

Today I am happy to share a guest post from a fellow author, JD Buffington is a writer of horror and science fiction. He enjoys turning nightmares into stories and wants nothing more than to entertain readers with thoughts that keep him up at night. For more from JD, find his links below!

image1depression, boredom, and the creative mind

by JD Buffington

I’m reading THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB by Will Schwalbe and much like the book is about discussing books with Will’s mother, who has pancreatic cancer and this is how they’re bonding, I’ve been discussing themes and ideas presented in the book with my wife, who already read it. The book is full of tidbits here and there that make you go, “huh.” Whether it be an interesting take on an age-old insight or putting into better perspective things we might take for granted.

Case in point, Will learns how his mother is able to remain positive and focused on humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan while he struggles with the very concept of mindfulness. It’s in having that focus. Remaining vigilant in the present, and in your presence, also requires having something to work toward, a goal, a touchpoint in the here and now that keeps you constant. If you have something that keeps you focused, then it’s obvious that you can remain focused, even if not working on whatever project or goal your focus is on. You can apply the same skillset to other parts of your life.

In the chapter I was discussing with my wife, Will’s mother has a friend who is kidnapped in Afghanistan, and despite the worry that obviously brings about, Will’s mother is all the more determined to see a project completed that will work toward the betterment and enrichment of the Afghani people, a library. Will see’s that this determination is what has kept his mother going through cancer and “not so good days” and the pain and exhaustion those can bring. She’s not focused on her own pain, even when she’s having a bad time of it, she’s more concerned with other things, and that keeps her going.

I brought up the idea that this plays into the concept of retirement being the number one killer of old people. Not having something to do, being bored, is exhausting itself, and life-draining. I said, “…that’s why I’m glad I’m an artist, I’m always thinking, I’ll never be bored.”

Here my wife gave me the “really?” look.

Of course I can be bored. I’ve been bored! But my boredom is more born out of depression than not having anything to do. Even in my deepest pits of despair, I’m still thinking about creative projects…mostly beating myself up about not working on them, but I cannot recall a time that I didn’t have something on my mind.

Which, that raises a concerning point: when is focus worry? When is boredom depression? And how do you separate these bedfellows when they become entangled? Well, if you know, please reach out to me, because it’s something I and about half the world’s population would like to have the answer to.

The truth of the matter is, sometimes they’re intrinsically linked. Boredom can be the result of depression. Or, worry and anxiety can bear out of focus and determination. That’s not always the case, but turning your, well, focus onto what it is, right now, that is causing boredom or worry, is an exercise in mindfulness. For me, my anxiety and depression feed my creativity, albeit sometimes in unhealthy, obsessive meandering through the corridors of my own brain, but as sick as I can make myself, it’s fuel for a fire that is always burning.

I can’t imagine a quiet mind. I want one, to be able to just shut up for a minute and just enjoy some silence would be a miracle for me. Even as I write these words, I’m thinking about this short story, that novel, the laundry, are my new pets going to get along, am I gonna make ends meet this month. It’s constant. Now, I’m sure that’s true for everyone, there are all these racing thoughts and concerns that literally keep us motivated throughout the day. What I’m seeking, what I think Will is surprised by in his mother, is the ability to pick one. No matter the situation, a project or goal or task. I’m writing this out in hopes of making sense of it, and if I don’t make sense, maybe I’m giving voice to someone else’s concern. And that’s what I really want to do when I write these blog posts: conceptualize that stream of consciousness.

Yes, I get bored, but mostly, if I look bored, it’s more than likely I’m actually feeling depressed. This is just me, mind you, I’m not saying everybody who is bored is depressed, God knows there’s a bajillion kids who are so bored right now, but they’re not depressed. I, however, am always thinking, and sometimes the thoughts are quite heavy, either in content or sheer volume, amount and loudness. It’s because I have ideas. I’m not saying not everyone has ideas, I realize I’m treading potentially offensive waters here, but despite I’m worried about being worried, bored with being bored, I, personally, am never without something to think about. That’s the curse of the creative mind.

The blessing of the creative mind comes in spurts; when you can actually produce a product for others to enjoy, or that you enjoy yourself, or you’re able to take that constantly running, revving engine of a brain and apply it to daily tasks and come up with solutions to problems. Again, this is coming back to having a focus, being able to fine tune the barrage of ideas into a steady stream or controlled trickle of intention.

So, the point of this diatribe is to try and focus.

Pick one thing, once a day, and pay attention to it, see it through, put it on paper or into words or actions.

Is it mowing the lawn? Is it writing a novel? Is it making a dress? Is it just calling your mum? Be present, make whatever concerns you relate to what it is you want to focus on, that way, it’s not so much anxiety and worry, but constructive determination.

Now, if only I could take my own advice…

For more from JD you can visit his blog, CIRCUSsized, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, or find his material on Amazon. JD often writes about depression and anxiety, trying to make sense of, and normalize, these traits that threaten and feed his creativity.

own the word: you are an author

imageI used to say I was “just a writer.” That I “just write.”

Whenever someone would call me an author, I would humbly respond, “I’m just a writer. I haven’t been published.”

Somewhere in my mind was this idea that I wasn’t a true author until my book was published. Not until I could see it on Amazon or a shelf at Barnes and Noble. Only then would I be a real author.

Not before. Not now.

Right now, I just write and dream of being an author. I’m an aspiring author.

But what does aspiring mean?

aspire

to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value.

Do I long, aim or seek to be an author?

author

person who writes a novel, poem, or essay; the composer of a literary work….

Well, according to those definitions–no. I don’t aspire to be an author.

I AM an author.

If you ask if I’m a person who longs, aims, and seeks to write a novel, poem, or essay, that’s wrong.

I’ve already done that.

I’ve already written a novel. I’ve written two, actually, and I’m working on a third. I’ve already developed the words and sentences and chapters and characters and everything that goes into the literary work.

So, I am not “just a writer.”

(In fact, according to the dictionary, there isn’t a difference. A writer is an author. They can be simultaneous. If someone is in the business of writing books, he or she is an author.)

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been published. It doesn’t matter if you’re only halfway, or a third, or a fourth of the way through a piece of work.

YOU are an author.
You have come up with a beautiful, new idea. You are writing that idea. You are slaving away over every word choice, every twist and turn. You are getting to know your characters and bringing them to life. You are breathing the story in and out so others can one day do the same.

You ARE an author.
If you have queried a book that has been rejected countless times or you got an agent on your first try, you are an author. If you have gone on rounds and rounds of submissions, only to have to turn to another project, you are an author. If you have self-published and gone through the hard work of promoting your own story, you are an author.

You are an AUTHOR.
You have created a story, a life, a world out of nothing but words and your imagination. You have stayed up countless nights, lived off of coffee alone, and missed opportunities to make a deadline. You have sacrificed favorite characters or storylines for the sake of your art and stuck to your guns when you weren’t willing to sacrifice your hard work.

When you say you’re an aspiring author or you’re just a writer, you are saying that you are TRYING to be something, or you are MERELY something.

Don’t belittle yourself. Enough people are going to try to do that for you as time progresses.

YOU ARE AN AUTHOR.
Own it. Be it. Write it.

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Get your “own the word” tee in pink, blue, yellow, or purple ombre. Available in various styles and colors!

This post was originally posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog and has also been featured on Golden Wheat Literary‘s blog.

 

Originally posted May 2016. 

writing for quality over quantity: beware of the dreaded word count

IMG_4939These days, every genre has its requirements/preferences.

Adult Novels can be up around 80k, sometimes higher.

YA it’s good to be between 55k-80k.

PB you shoot for 28-32 pages, keeping it below 1,000 words so it doesn’t seem too long.

MG is safe between 20k-55k, depending on subject matter.

(Thanks for the info, Writer’s Digest!)

But the truth of the matter is, focusing on word count while you’re writing can throw off your groove. You’re afraid to add that subplot that the book needs because it will push you over that high number of word count. Or, you’re book is a little shorter and you’re worried that will scare away agents/editors/publishers. Whatever it is- it’s hard not to think about the word count.

So how do you do it? How do you write, submit, edit (and so forth) without worrying about the end number of words that will be sitting at the bottom of your word document?

Remember it will CHANGE

Word counts change with every draft, every edit, every time you sit down to look at your masterpiece. This is why it’s so important to have writing counterparts- your critical readers and writing buddies and critique partners and editors and fellow writers. If you do it all on your own, then your work is more than likely never going to be as good as it can be.

Keep exceptions in mind 

Books push boundaries. As readers and writers this is good to keep in mind. I’m not saying that you should be like Ulysses and have your opening sentence being pages and pages long, but it’s good to keep in mind that there are always authors who can push those boundaries/limits/suggestions and do it well. Maybe your MG is a little long, and it worries you– but it is all together and beautifully rafted. Don’t worry. Either someone will love it, or someone will help you tender it to the right word-length.

Just keep WRITING

Goodness knows that if you focused on everything that could go wrong, or everything that is wrong, or everything that you NEED to do to get your novel there– it would never be written. My first book I was so concerned with the chapters being the same amount of pages that it almost kept me from writing certain scenes, and almost made me write in things that weren’t needed. In fact, if you ask my editor, she’ll tell you these things were there in the first draft. Because I was SO worried about hitting a certain amount of words, that I lost track of what I was really writing.

As always, my final suggestion is to just keep going. Write what you have in mind, and then whether you need to add or cut- it’s going to be alllllll right.

guest post from author K. Bird Lincoln (author of “Tiger Lily” and “Dream Eater”) + giveaway

For those of you who don’t know, the cover reveal for K. Bird Lincoln’s Dream Eater happened just a month ago. This book is the first in a new series, and is released April 4th. I would highly suggest looking into it and preordering if you can! It was addicting, and I can’t wait for the next book. I will offer a review of Dream Eater come release day- April 4th!

While reading Dream Eater I was able to be put in touch with her and she kindly agreed to write a guest post for y’all! After all, you can read my advice all day long– but Ms. Lincoln is someone who has made it to that “final step” of releasing her words upon the world.

I won’t keep babbling. But don’t skip reading this– the giveaway details are at the end!

Find your own tricks to keep writing: how small children taught me I didn’t need three hours of uninterrupted quiet to write

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Author K. Bird Lincoln

By K. Bird Lincoln

Before I had my first daughter at age 30 I was a writer. A Writer. I had a desk in a quiet room, where I could look out the window at the San Francisco Bay. There was a ritual—stovetop latte from my Bialetti Mooka Express, soothing music, a quick check of email that often turned into an hour long session, and then several uninterrupted hours of writing.

Of course, I usually only managed like 800 words, but I was Writing. I was a Special Snowflake with delicate writer sensibilities and this was my artistic process.

Cue snort.

Then I had girl1 and for two, sleep-deprived years I pretty much lost all ability to write. My creative batteries were drained by the end of the day by tending to my daughter.

Somewhere in the tangled mess of diapers, wet bras, playdates, spilled sippy cups, and applesauce packs, I discovered I was Still. A Writer.

I just wasn’t writing. The stories were there, but nothing was getting on paper because people in real life don’t have two to three uninterrupted hours in which to light candles and listen to soothing music before they get down to work.

It was time to get brutally honest with myself. If I was going to be a Writer, I had to Write, no matter what. But first I had to figure out what my own, personal writing avoidance excuses were.

“No time”

“I can’t possibly meet word count goals every day because I don’t have time”

“There’s laundry to be done”

“It’s too hard to get my head in the right place for writing”

And then I began to trick and bribe myself.

I started to carry a small notebook around. I found there were 10 or 15 minutes I could wring out of the day. Times when girl1 was eating. Or playing with something safe. And as she got older, those 10 or 15 minutes were the times I was waiting to pick her up from preschool, or watching her at swim class in a steamy room, or right before she came home from school and I’d already done the laundry and had a snack out on the counter. Of course, things had to adjust when girl2 was born. The creative battery ran down for a few months. But I recovered my Writer identity more quickly after girl2 because I had experienced the tricks and the bribes. I was a Writer and that might go on hold, but it would never go completely away.

Girl1 is now 15 and girl2 is 12, and I could have two hours back in front of a computer in a quiet room with coffee and music. But you know what, oddly enough, it’s getting to Ballet early and sitting in the car for 15 minutes that I do most of my hardcore writing. If I have too much time, I tend to get ensnared by Facebook or updating my Amazon sales page or other writer-related stuff.

Being honest with myself about my writing avoidance behavior helped me to find ways to trick myself into writing.

No time” turned into “just write for 10 minutes.”

I can’t meet writing goals of 2000 a day” turned into “so reward yourself with the easy writing goal of 1000 a week, and anything over that is icing on the writing cake.”

There’s laundry to be done” turned into “okay, you have two minutes to put laundry in the machine, and then you have to sit down at the computer until you have written.”

It’s too hard to get my head in the right place for writing” turned into “stop whining.” And then I started making playlists of songs on Youtube that made me think of a character or an emotion I wanted to convey. Now when I sit down to write a particular novel I turn on the Youtube playlist and like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I start literally salivating…er…my brain is conditioned to jump right into that feeling or character. A few years ago I read an interview with YA fantasy/science fiction author Scott Westerfeld who said he prints out the last two pages of whatever he’s written and starts each writing session by editing/reading those last two pages.

Voila! No more need for candles or music or anything. Reading the last two pages somehow not only kicks my story juices into full gear, but also has the added benefit of being an initial editing, without the danger of getting sucked into the endless black hole of editing. There’s only two pages to edit, and then I have to create content

There’s also the fact that I don’t allow myself to buy lattes at Dunn Bros or Starbucks or Caribou Coffee unless I’m writing there or I walked there. Pure bribery, I know. But at the end of the day, I have several pieces of paper with scribbled dialogue on it that I didn’t have at the start.

But you have to be honest with yourself. What are your writing avoidance excuses? What kinds of bribes will get you to write?  Meanwhile, here are some tricks I’ve heard from other writers. Maybe one will work for you.

  • Daily word count instead of weekly—with strict no internet policy until its met
  • Writing with a timer on instead of word counts
  • Change your writing place. Go somewhere physically different to write.
  • Write the scenes you really want to write first to get yourself going, or alternatively, save the juicy scenes as a reward for after a certain word count
  • Use the voice recorder on your phone or ipad if carrying around a notebook doesn’t work for you in order to jot down ideas as they come.
  • Make yourself accountable to a writer (or non-writer) friend for word counts. Set up a mutual pledge to text or post about word counts with someone else so you’ll be shamed into doing it.

Sign up for K. Bird’s Sporadic Newsletter and get a free digital story or book!

Read K. Bird’s tasty fiction reviews on Goodreads

Check out random thoughts and Japanese recipes on her blog or writing news and book deals on Facebook

Listen to K. Bird sing Japanese lullabies or read free short stories on her webpage

Read “A beautifully-written genderbending tale of rebellious girls, shifting disguises, and forbidden magic, set against the vivid backdrop of ancient Japan.”—Tiger Lily, a historical fantasy novel set in an alternate medieval Japan available on Amazon.com.

Great advice from someone who has succeeded in reaching her dreams! Did you see that last little bit about reading her book Tiger Lily?

5162dw5dklLucky for you, she’s agreed to give one lucky reader a copy FOR FREE.

Enter HERE:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway starts today and ends Monday, March 6, 2017 at midnight EST. Good luck!

bouncing genres as a writer

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As a writer, you hear a lot of things in the rumor mill/professional tips/ writing tips, that often you want to question. For example, one of the first things someone told me was I needed to settle on a genre in order to make it as a writer.

At the time, I was dipping my toes into the publishing world by querying my first project (which eventually got shelved and is now under revision with my agent). I told someone that my Young Adult Contemporary was going out into the world, but I had this Young Adult Historical Fiction I just had to start getting down or I was going to go crazy. I might have mentioned some Picture Book ideas I had as well, and that I always wanted to do a cookbook.

This is what you get when someone asks you what you are writing/ want to write/ etc.

After a nice pause, this person said, “I think, as an author, you should probably stick one thing you’re good with and keep writing that. Like, Contemporary, right? That’s what John Green does?”

I bit my lip, nodded my head, and responded: “Well, they’re just ideas right now, after all. I guess we’ll see.”

I was nervous.

I started second-guessing my writing goals, and stayed away from the computer for a little bit– worried I was doing myself an injustice by writing a Historical Fiction rather than trying my hand at another Contemporary.

Thankfully, I have an amazing bestie/CP/beta reader who told me something very important:

Write what you feel called to write. Write what you want. Write. If you’re writing, you’re doing it right.

Or, it was something like that.

So, here are a couple things to think about if you can’t shake that Middle Grade idea when you typically write Romance, or however the skipping around goes for you.

Write it. Get it out of your system.

Get that MG down on paper. You might find that MG is more of your calling than Romance! Or, you know what I mean. OR you might find out that it isn’t. Or you might find out you love both! Whatever the case, you’ll never know unless you try. And that’s one of the biggest things about writing, isn’t it?

Do some research.

There are plenty of published authors who have written in more than one genre (like, I don’t know- J.K. Rowling?). Don’t just google authors and what they write, talk to some fellow writers who are writing in the genre you want to try. Or who write more than one type of book. This is going to help you grow! You can never get too much help. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, but you definitely can never ask too many questions!

Never listen to naysayers.

People are going to put you down all the time in life. This, I find, especially happens when you are in the creative sphere trying to spread your wings. Don’t listen to people- particularly people who have NO IDEA what they’re talking about. Talk to more than one person about your idea, and always make sure you include a fellow writer or two.

 

By the way, if I had never written that YA Historical Fiction- I never would have snagged my agent. Letting fear and doubt dictate what you do is never good.

Remember:

Write what you feel called to write. Write what you want. Write. If you’re writing, you’re doing it right.

 

 

Also, Congratulations to @darkchiibsb for winning the Amazon $10 gift card! Please contact me @ emily.herring.dunn@gmail.com to connect and receive your prize! Thanks so much for following, everyone!

 

staying positive/thankful in the midst of rejections

Being a writer is hard.

Pretty sure we’ve talked about that before, but it’s never a subject that you can read too much.

Since Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US of A, I thought it would be nice to remind you that you’re awesome. That you have so much to be thankful for as a writer. And that you can only go up from where you are.

If you don’t believe me, check out THIS ARTICLE that shares several authors who faced terrible rejections. If you’ll notice, all their names are recognizable now.

Don’t know how to stay positive? Hitting a rough patch with your writing, your publishing, your editing? Not to worry!

 

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A WRITING PARTNER

Having a friend/colleague/writing buddy who can always help your mood is important. Writers need writers to get by, to learn, to keep themselves pumped. I would be nowhere without the other amazing writers in my life. I’m pretty sure I would have given up at least ten times if I hadn’t been convinced otherwise.

You need people who understand what you’re going through. If you’re having a hard time connecting with other writers, there are some awesome groups through Facebook, blogging, and Twitter. The internet is your friend with this!

 

JUST KEEP WRITING

Maybe you got a bad review, or your 19th rejection from querying, or your book was shelved due to not being picked up. It’s a really rough gig, one that might only get harder before it gets better. But that shouldn’t keep you from doing what you love.

Writing is in your blood. You’ve finished a novel (or twelve), you’ve entered those contests, you’ve put yourself OUT THERE.

Now is NOT the time to stop. No time is. Never stop because you think you’ve failed– because the only time you will fail is when you lose faith in yourself.

 

YOU’VE WRITTEN A BOOK

If you’re writing or have written a book you are steps ahead of those who always say:

“I have this wonderful idea for a book, but I haven’t started it.”

“I’ve always wanted to write a book but never had the time.”

“I wanted to be a writer, but I had to do other things instead.”

“Some day I’ll have the time to sit down and write my novel.”

There are so many more, but those are the first four that come to mind. To me, I’m sorry to say, those are excuses. Nobody HAS the time to be a writer, but we MAKE and FIND the time because we ARE writers.

Am I right?!

So, you are a WRITER. And in the midst of the crazy world that is totally against us, you can be THANKFUL for that– and for your fellow writers.

 

face the fear & write what scares you

More often than not, we find ourselves facing something that scares us. And I don’t mean something that’s “spooky” or “gives us the chills”– I mean scares us.

Passing-out-poop-in-our-pants-regurgitate-kind-of-fear.

It can be so different for everyone, but I think there’s something to be said about that fear in writers. Writers can stop writing something because they fear what others might think, or fear the rejection, or fear the work that must go into the project. With some writers, this just gives them the spooks. But with many, it scares them.

Run-from-the-movie-theatre-fear.

I am not a person who likes to be scared. I consider myself of average courage. There are times when I imagine my Mama-Bear instincts can kick in, and if you’re on the other side of that you better watch out. But over all, I am not one of the fiercest of my kind.

However, I am fierce where it counts the most to me: I’m protective of and fight for those I love, I stand for the beliefs that are nearest and dearest to my heart, and I fight for the dreams that matter the most to me.

This is my definition of brave. This is my brave.

I know my limits, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to push certain limits. I don’t have to try to sit through a scary movie to prove myself. I know that if I do, I will have endless nightmares and become paranoid for who knows how long. I don’t have to do that.

I don’t have to ride a roller coaster to prove to someone that I’ve done it before and, nope, I still don’t like them. I don’t understand the point. I don’t need that sort of “rush.” I don’t have to do that.

I don’t have to stick it out with toxic relationships. I don’t have to worry about people who have brought me down time and time again because they don’t care about me, truly. I don’t have to do that.

Whether those are limits, boundaries, or both– those are only three examples.

But the fear I referred to earlier– the fear of writing something extraordinary only to see it critiqued as awful, or to “fail” with it somehow– that’s a fear I have to chase. If I didn’t, I would never have become a writer.

My first book took me almost ten years to write. And that’s the first novel I TRULY finished. Then when I sat down to work on it again, it changed completely. All those years of work basically went down the drain.

I. Was. Terrified.

The last thing I wanted to do is fail.

In fact, I’m one of those people that is scared of failing. Sometimes I don’t do things because I don’t know how and don’t want to look stupid in front of others. Yep, I’m one of those. I’m not entirely proud of it, and I’m always working on it, but it’s who I’ve always been.

Writing this book, though… I couldn’t not face it. It had to be written. If I walked away from it then, after working on it for ten years, when I was even closer to making it its best– that WOULD have been failure.

I’m not trying to call you a failure at all, dear reader. What I’m trying to say, is there is always going to be a project, a manuscript, a contest, a step in the writing/querying/editing/publishing process that scares the living daylights out of you. The only way you’re going to succeed, though, is if you push through.

Maybe you’ll “fail” in the way you fear the most. Maybe your book won’t be a success. Maybe the agent will say no. Maybe the editor will cut that favorite chapter. Maybe the publisher will reject it.

But, as Claire says in Elizabethtown:

So you failed. Alright you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.

Writing is all about having courage. Courage to say what you really want to say. Courage to take the time to get those words out of your system. Courage to go through editing. Courage to let others read what you’ve written. Courage to self-publish. Courage to query. Courage to be published.

Courage. Be courageous and face your fear, whatever it is, and write through it.

Write what scares you.

And I don’t mean scares you like Stephen King (unless that’s your style, of course) or scares you like whatever scary movie made you cry like a baby (is that just me?)–I mean scares you because it could be something REALLY great. It could be your beautiful fiasco.

That FEAR could end up leading you to achieve your DREAM.

So go face it.

 

truth: i don’t write every day

I’m sorry if my posts have been a little repetitive as of late. As I might have shared, there’s a lot going on ‘behind the scenes,’ and while my life as a writer is one I strive to share– sometimes it’s like only having one part of a certain song stuck in your head.

That’s either because you don’t know the whole song, or for some reason that part might have more meaning to you at the present time.

Whatever the case, the thing of it is: I haven’t been writing every day.

(Dear Agent, if you’re reading this, I promise I’m still productive!)

I have honestly never been one of those people who is disciplined to sit down every day and write. I have tried, in the past, to hit 250-500 words so that even if I’m not hashing out thousands, I could still say I wrote something. But lately, this hasn’t been happening. I get to the end of the day and look from my computer to my current read, and the book I’m reading tends to win.

My day is full of to-dos and adulting, as I know so many others days are, too– so sometimes even getting 250 words down seems impossible to me.

But as you might recall in finding the time to be a writer, not writing every day soon turns into a bad habit for many people. Soon your writing is no longer a priority, and you feel guilty whenever you try to rectify that.

At the end of those long days when you don’t have the energy or mental capacity to get the words down, and you promise yourself you’ll do it the next day– just do me a favor (and we can keep each other accountable):

Write down one sentence. One idea. One pitch. One string of words that will make something that goes toward your life as an author.

That’s what I’ve been doing lately. It seems my head is swimming with all these ideas, none of which have been concrete enough t put into the process past the first spark. And that’s OK. It’s OK because my mind is still working, still producing, still working in writerly-fashion.

The truth of the matter is, that unless you go to work and are given written assignments as your job or you get to lock yourself away to write your books for a living– odds are you will reach a point where you won’t be writing every day, or can’t, or have to change your plans. And that IS ok.

Say it with me:

IT IS OK.

Life will throw boulders in your path and sometimes you have to sit down and reflect what your best option is to get rid of them, or go around them, or use them. Those are the moments to not feel guilty about putting your writing on the back-burner– because you know it’s still there. As long as you are persistent in always thinking about it, and doing little things to work on it, and promise yourself that you’re not giving up– it’s going to be OK.

Your writing is a gift. Don’t squander it.

 

This post is as much for you as it is for me. A constant reminder that we don’t need to feel guilty to live our lives outside of our writing careers, as long as we continue to polish those careers in the long-run.