Today is Encourage a Young Writer Day, so I've put together a list of things I've learned from my time as a writer...
1. In life, you have very little control over what happens. With writing, it's no different. Sure, you can control what you write, but once you release your book out into the world, you have absolutely no control over how well it sells and what people will think of it and say about it. All you can do is put your best foot forward, cross your fingers and hope that readers will like it.
2. Which brings me to number two. Dealing with negative reviews. (I wrote an entire blog post about this that you can read here.) Again, you have no control, especially over bad reviews. You have to take the good with the bad because life is all about balance.
3. Not everyone likes/is interested in/is passionate about the same things that you are. A subject you're crazy about might fall flat with your audience. That's okay. It happens. All that means is to keep trying, keep switching things up. Keep being true to yourself.
Those pages you filled up with words strung together are yours and not anyone else's. Your name is on them, and as long as you're proud of them, that's all that really matters. Because you're not doing this for the fame/money, because, truth be told, only a handful of authors actually find coveted fame and fortune. And, as ironic as it may seem, you might not even like any of their books!
4. There are no guarantees. Just because one thing proved to be successful doesn't mean that it will turn out that way again. One minute sales are up, the next they're down. Same with reviews and feedback, likes and follows, and your own productivity. Wax up that surfboard and ride the wave, baby.
5. You can't force it. This goes along with the control thing from number one. You can't force the words/sales/reviews/etc. When your creative side isn't cooperating and you can't form an interesting sentence to save your life, you can't and shouldn't force it to happen. Someone knew what they were talking about with the whole you can't squeeze blood from a stone thing.
Do something else when the words won't flow. Work on something else. Or don't work at all. Most of the time that frustrating bout of writer's block is just your brain trying to tell you that you need a much-deserved break. You're human and not a machine, and worst of all, you're an artist. And creativity is fickle and operates by its own timeline.
6. It doesn't get any easier. I know, I know, I'm just full of sparkling positivity. But as much as I want to tell you that it's all sunshine and wildflowers, what really is? Besides actually sunshine and wildflowers anyway?
As I finish my twentieth novel and hand it off to my hubby to read for the first time, I'm still as worried sick to my stomach as I was the first. Will he like it? Will he love the characters as much as I do? Or will he think I've finally gone off the deep end this time?
But when you flip over to the other side of the coin, I'm excited and hopeful. See, there's that balancing thing at work that I mentioned before.
7. Write what makes you happy. Because, in the end, you might be the only one who appreciates the work the way it was meant to be appreciated.