At the recent RWA national conference, I joined my fellow historical writers Grace Burrowes, Katharine Ashe, Kieran Kramer and Tessa Dare on a panel called The Do Over. In this conference workshop, we spoke about lessons learned. I thought I would share my part of the workshop here with all of you.
When I began speaking, I gave advice to unpublished writers. The truth is it’s hard to keep your behind in the chair if you don’t have some sort of accountability. I suggested that they might commit to writing at least 100 words a day for 100 days. It may not be the best 100 words you’ll ever write, and you most certainly have to write far more than that once you’re published and on deadline. So what is the point of 100 words a day for 100 days? Habit. That’s right, you develop the habit of writing every day using this simple tool. I did this while writing my first book HOW TO MARRY A DUKE–and I sold it. Now on to the rest of my speech. ~
First, forget the regrets. What you need in this business is:
- A healthy sense of humor
- Fabulous writer friends who understand in a way non-writers can’t
- A damn good agent
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”
- Promote your first book while packing for a move.
- Write a book in six weeks.
- Do 50 blog hop stops while on deadline. (Don’t ask.)
- Finish a book at 4:30 AM & on the same day travel to a literacy event in another city.
- Agree to teach a virtual class and somehow manage to check the ‘homework’ you assigned for all 600+ attendees.
Yes, all of the above really happened.
- Laughter helps, but sometimes a hug is needed. Be there for your friends when the writing life gets tough. They will reciprocate.
- The best advice I can give you is:
- Kick fear to the curb. It is a writer’s greatest enemy.
- Focus only on what you can control.
- If something isn’t working, find a solution. If there isn’t one, move on.
- Be kind to others and share.
- Celebrate your friend’s good news, and she will do the same for you.
- Ring your bell. Sung to Anita Ward’s famous disco song – “You can ring my beeeell-ring my bell.” In other words, you need to promote, and when you do, make sure your editor, agent, and publicist know about it. In marketing, perception is reality.
Finally, for your entertainment I present the Worst Review on the Planet. I happen to be the lucky recipient. I’ll paraphrase the rant since the ‘reviewer’ cursed in almost every sentence: “Woman, you need to stop writing, and stop writing now.” For the record, Goodreads declined to remove it because they didn’t want to censure the reviewer.
Yep, a good sense of humor definitely helps.