Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Monday, 23 December 2013

Some resolutions by Mary Smith

I’m late putting up my post and I’m blaming the usual pre-Christmas mayhem. Earlier this month I thought I would be interviewing fellow blogger Jenny Harper whose first novel, Face the Wind and Fly is about to go live on Amazon but a wee delay has meant it isn’t up there yet – but do look out for it. It will be coming very soon.

In the meantime, in between rushing around the shops, spending far too much money because my method to cheer myself up while shopping for impossible-to-buy-for people (DH in my case) is to buy something for me, too, I haven’t had much time to think up a blog topic. I finally decided to think about some New Year resolutions for writers.

Keep on writing.

Do not feel guilty
We’ve all read the instructions, the how-to-write-a-novel/bestseller manuals and learned about the need for discipline and to approach our writing as we would any other job. We’ve been told to give ourselves a target of X number of words a day and to sit at our desk until we have achieved the target. Then, when we don’t achieve the magic number we feel guilty and beat ourselves up because we’re clearly not as dedicated as we should be. Rubbish! Yes, there is a need for a certain amount of discipline but there is also a need to be kind to ourselves and not take all the blame when we didn’t make the word target. Life gets in the way and sometimes we have to accept this and go with the flow. We are writers, we want to write and we will write and sometimes a bar of chocolate and a glass of wine while reading a book we enjoy will make us better writers.

Accept that talent will NOT always be recognised by a traditional publisher
New writers were always advised that ‘talent would out’, that if they kept plugging away, sending their manuscripts to agents and publishers, one would eventually recognise how good it is and offer a contract. This advice is backed up by the list of successful writers, usually topped by J K Rowling, who were rejected umpteen times before their book was picked up by a publisher.

They don’t mention that the work of many, many really good writers is not picked up this way. I have some excellent books on my Kindle and can’t understand why a mainstream publisher didn’t publish them. Of course, many writers are now going straight to Kindle without putting themselves through the trauma of countless rejections – and good on them.

Learn marketing skills
You have to be good at promotion and marketing whether you self-publish or are published by a traditional publisher. I know writers whose publishers almost insist they have a website, a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account all with the aim of marketing books. Tweeting, ‘Buy my book’ 50 times a day, though, is not going to endear you to potential customers, which is why we need to learn effective marketing skills. I can’t help feeling there is some disconnect between writing and marketing (although Charles Dickens did it well). If we wanted to be super salespeople we’d not be writers.

Maintain contacts with other writers
Other writers know exactly what the writing life is like – its ups and downs; the joy of having a story/poem/novel accepted; the depths of despair to which we plunge when our work is rejected. Other writers can be a lifeline. Cherish them.

Keep on writing. (I know, I wrote this at the start – but it is worth repeating)
Okay, maybe this year was not the year of your breakthrough novel; maybe you didn’t find an agent – or found one who then didn’t sell your book. Or, maybe you got your book ‘out there’ and no one apart from your best friend and your auntie bought it and you’re thinking you might be better taking up knitting. No, keep on writing because, ultimately, it is writing which pleases us most.

Happy Christmas and I wish all writers a creative 2014.

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for a thoughtful, supportive and encouraging blog, Mary. I'm sure you're right - wine and chocolate make us all better writers! You're so right, too, that constant rejection is soul-destroying - especially when one reads so much – well, frankly - drivel, that somehow seems to get published!

    Thanks also for the plug for Face the Wind and Fly. I've been delayed by a last-minute decision to commission new covers, but I'm hoping it will be available on Amazon during the coming week.

    Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Jenny.
      As for the pain of rejections - I remember reading advice which said writers shouldn't take rejection to heart because it was not a personal rejection of them, but of their work. I thought then, and still do, that as my work is me the rejection is totally personal.
      Let us know as soon as Face the Wind and Fly is available.

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  2. What an encouraging post - I need to print it out and remind myself of all of the above for the coming year :o)

    Happy Christmas!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Karen, and I'm glad you found the post encouraging. Have a lovely Christmas and a good, creative New Year.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. I'm particlarly fond of the chocolate, wine and good book advice and intend to take it far more often than I do!

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  4. Excellent advice, Mary - especially the reading while eating chocolate! After all, reading makes us better writers while chocolate makes us happy!

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    1. Exactly, Rosemary!
      Thanks for commenting. Have a Happy Christmas.

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  5. Mary, everything you say is true and i'll be adopting at least a couple of your resolutions next year. And yes, I think it's impossible not to take criticism personally, for exactly the reasons you give!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to drop in, Jennifer. Glad you agree with my comments - and less we don't have too many rejections next year!

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  6. Thank you Mary. That is just what I need. January is going to be my month, but if I don't always make that word target I won't feel guilty.

    Here's to 2014!

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    1. Thanks, Gill. I wish you lots of luck with your private NaNoWriMo! You certainly should not feel guilty if you don't make the daily word count - enjoy the chocolate, wine and good books.

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  7. Very, very, good advice......keep o n keeping on, as my old Dad was wont to say. Hope 2014 will be a good year for us all in every way.

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  8. Very, very, good advice......keep o n keeping on, as my old Dad was wont to say. Hope 2014 will be a good year for us all in every way.

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  9. Very, very, good advice......keep o n keeping on, as my old Dad was wont to say. Hope 2014 will be a good year for us all in every way.

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