I have some bad habits. I’ll share some of them with you. These are from the Don’t ever do this and the If you’re doing this – stop right now files.
1. Never write a book using the method I’m about to describe. Every time I sit down to scribble away at my work in progress I begin back at the beginning. I start from the first line and revise away until I catch up to where I left off last time. Sometimes I get sidetracked in deleting or adding to a section and it can take a long, long time to reach the point where I progressed to last time. After ten or fifteen sittings I leave the first couple of chapters alone and begin at the third or fourth chapter until I catch up. It’s time consuming and laborious and probably not the most efficient use of my writing time. I seem to be stuck with this method; I just can’t shake it. There may still be time for you though.
2. If you plan on writing a trilogy of books don’t tell anyone, especially your readers. I released my first book at the end of 2011. I was lucky; it was quite successful. The plan for my next project was to write a story that I’d had in my head for many years. My readers had other ideas though. They wanted to know more about Gerald Hardly McDougall, one of the characters from my first book. This was a true privilege. So, I decided to turn my single, stand-alone novel into a trilogy and wrote the second book of the trilogy. I was able to release that book – My Name Is Hardly, during 2012. It is now 2015 and book three, the third book in this well-intentioned trilogy is still a work in progress. If you’re going to write a trilogy or any type of series of books that involves the completion of the last book – keep the information to yourself.
3. Don’t respond to reviews. I’ve done this and it did not end in a nightmare scenario, but it could have. As the wise sage said, reviews are for readers, not for writers. Read them, take the hit or the glory and move on.
4. Be prepared to listen to the truth. Do not surround yourself with other authors who are only going to tell you of your brilliance. You probably are brilliant; we all display brilliant streaks from time to time, but it takes work to become a better writer. It’s more important for me to hear what I’m doing wrong than what I’m doing right. I want to know that my story has plot holes or characters that are unnecessary, and I want to make those changes before I expose my work to my readers. I want to release the best work I can and that means I need to hear the truth.
5. There’s kind of a mental no-man’s land that I fall into when I’m not working on a book. The longer I’m between creations the deeper I sink into this land and the less relevant everything around me feels. I need to make up stories and tell those stories. Without that I’m not only incomplete, I’m incompatible, inconsolable, incon…I just don’t fit in. So, I need to write. I don’t always do this though. I sometimes devote hours of time to networking (yes, this involves Facebook), as I try to determine the best methods of promoting my work. This is important, but as a professional writer and self-publisher I need to write more than perform non-writing related tasks. So, I created a spreadsheet that helps me balance the work so that the majority of my working day is devoted to writing. My readers want new books, and that’s where my efforts should lie. A wise writer commented on a thread recently and observed that self-published authors who have hit those top levels and connected with thousands of readers have produced lots of words. They turn those words into books and then repeat the same process. Readers have a short attention span. If we can’t provide them with product they’ll go elsewhere, and they’ll forget about us. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last few years it’s that there are a lot of great writers out there. And, they’re producing some fantastic work. So, keep writing.
I have other bad habits but I’ll keep those to myself for now. If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet I put together that helps me balance my writing versus non-writing time email me and I’ll gladly send it on. And, good luck connecting with your readers they’re out there!