I don’t know how many of you are writers, but this blog post I came across by Chuck Wendig can apply not just to writing, but any pursuit in general: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/03/25-things-writers-should-stop-doing/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-2
I’m acknowledging Chuck’s brilliance in this piece because it resonated so greatly with me. I’m not going to lie—I suffer from each and every one of these dreaded mindfucks. Well, all except for one: I don’t chase trends. If I did, I’d be writing about vampires and handcuffs, or vampires in handcuffs. But I do ALL 24, which is why I know I need a complete lobotomy—metaphorically-speaking. And I plan on performing one on myself just as soon as the boy starts school in 12 days, 14 hours, and 22 seconds.
I’m tackling 7 of the 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (in my own words). I can only stand to admit a few at a time. I’ll tackle the others in the next 2 weeks. (My propensity for self-flagellation over these heinous habits is already at an all-time high.) Please read Chuck’s piece though. I cannot do it justice.
1. STOP ONLY FOR COPS, HEART ATTACKS, AND COOKIES WARM FROM THE OVEN. In other words, don’t stop writing. Too late. I’ve already stopped. My present ms had been edited by another; I proceeded to go over it another 2 times even though I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore. Then I happened to read this article on Editors’ Pet Peeves, and they listed passive verbs as being a major one. Surely I couldn’t have THAT many, could I? So I took a little looksie and discovered I had pretty much written my entire story in this offensive manner. Back to the drawing board I went only to discover was and looked and felt and watched…UGH! I knew I had to go over this mofo yet again, line by line. There was no way it was going to happen at this point in the summer. My concentration is shot. I stopped at page 35, ready to tear my hair out. I will resume once the boy is back in school. (Really, I will.)
2. DON’T WRITE AS IF YOU HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. No copycatting; Be unique. Have you ever read a book you loved and started writing in the cadence of that author? I do it all the time with 2 of my favorite authors, Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich. They both have such a distinctive, memorable style about them, I’m not even sure I do it consciously. In any case, I AM conscious of plagiarism, so I’ve learned to keep myself in check with this by never reading these guys while in the middle of a project.
3. DON’T BECOME MY POLISH GRANDMOTHER (i.e. Don’t Worry). This is like telling Anthony Weiner not to sext, or the Kardashians to go away. It’s not going to happen. I worry about finding the time to write; I worry my lifespan will be shortened because I sit for hours while writing; I worry when I don’t write that I’ll never, ever write again. However, I can try to control it to the point where I don’t give myself an ulcer or a stroke. (I hope.)
4. BE THE TORTOISE NOT THE HARE. I am the SLOWEST writer. All I hear in the publishing world, especially the epub world is: If you want to make any money, you need to pump out 3-4 books a year. At least. So the readers don’t forget you. Um, yeah. Come November it’ll be a year since my book, The Accidental Cougar came out, and I’m not even finished editing my next one (see above).I need to stop beating myself up over this one, because I know if I were to churn out 3 books a year the results would be worthy of lining my bird cage and not much else.
5. UNLESS YOU’RE AT THE DMV, THE ALTER, OR DILATED TO ONLY 4 CENTIMETERS, DON’T WAIT. Chuck writes, “What the fuck are you waiting for?” I dunno. World peace, my son to go to college, a 20-pound weight loss? I’ve always waited for my life to begin. I’m one of those freaks that buy things in preparation for when my life will begin. A gorgeous dress for when I’m a size 4 again. A beautiful tablecloth for when I give dinner parties (right after I learn how to cook gourmet meals).A stunning necklace for when I accept the award for “Most Prolific Author.”
6. IF YOU THINK IT WILL GET EASIER, YOU’RE DUMBER THAN I THOUGHT. I don’t think writing gets easier the more you do it; I think you simply get better at it. My third book was harder to write than the first 2 put together. I have no idea why. All I know is it’s quite possible to write one outstanding novel and then follow it up with a piece of utter crap. And of course, I worry about that all the time.
7. IF YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN AS A BARISTA YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. I have nothing against baristas. I spent a caffeinated chunk of my life as a barista, but you’d better believe I was working toward other things—acting, writing, something else. And I made sure people knew that. In my 20s when people asked what I did, I didn’t say, “I’m a corporate copy editor/proofreader.” I proudly told them I was an actress. And I received nothing but Oohs and Aahs. I’m proud to tell folks I’m a writer. I even tell them I’m a romance writer. When I took a social media class, there were a number of romance writers who were adamant about wanting to keep their personal identity a secret on Facebook. Especially the ones who wrote erotica. I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice of being stuck in an elevator for 9 hours with either an erotic writer or a phlebotomist, guess which one I’d choose?
Until next week…