Your Book Social Media Profile Awaits
I’ve gotten asked by a lot of other authors about any sort of hints or tips of tricks that I could tell them to help them along. If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that I think that writing is a very personal experience, and therefore the process changes dramatically from person to person. But, at this point, I have gotten asked enough that I finally decided to culminate all of the tips that I have found most helpful.
The following is a list of the top 10 things I believe a fiction writer should do. Most of these probably apply to all you nonfiction writers out there as well, but I’ll leave the official version of that list for one of you to develop. So, without further ado, here are the most crucial things every writer should do from my perspective:
Every writer must know the basics of grammar, spelling and punctuation. This is not to impress readers with how well we learned in school. If readers are paying more attention to mistakes than to plot, they will not be your readers for long.
Imitating another author’s style or rehashing an overused plot line is an easy way to lose readers. We have been blessed with only one Socrates, one Mary Shelley, one Stephen King. Many have tried to imitate them. Can you name one? While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it is also a certain path to obscurity.
Writers write. It’s what they have to do. Writing requires long hours, tedious edits and rewrites and rarely pays enough to give up the day job. Many have tried writing because it seems a quick and easy path to success. After a few attempts, most find the day job is not so bad by comparison.
Writing is a lonely job. Writers spend many long hours hidden away, pecking a keyboard. For a short time, most writers will experience some notice, even admiration, from their social circle. However, as time passes and none of their work shows up on the New York Times bestseller list, friends and family smile knowingly when you claim the title of writer.
Not everyone will like what you write. It’s a fact. Few people south of the Mason-Dixon Line liked the Gettysburg Address. It is extremely difficult to persuade someone to like your work who does not like the genre you write. There are countless groups with interests in everything imaginable. A quick Google search is a good start. From there, try to develop connections that will grow your social circle.
Writing requires far more self-motivation than the average day job. Writers have only themselves and whatever cheering squad they can put together. Most other professionals are surrounded by coworkers who know and understand the perks and stresses of their jobs. Writers have to seek others who share their compulsion and cultivate a support structure where they can find it.
Few writers can see all the inaccuracies or implications of their work with no feedback. As writers, we see our stories from within. Part of us or someone we have known goes into each character. Places we have seen or imagined have gone into each scene description. However, do they work for our target audience? We will never know unless we make ourselves accessible.
Not all criticism is negative or valid, but all has the potential for being beneficial. Writers are mostly human. As such, we tend to learn from our mistakes. However, this only happens if we know what our mistakes are. None of us sits down to intentionally throw in a dangling plotline or a contradiction in place or time. Once in, the writer often fails to notice them, but few readers are as oblivious of our mistakes.
Because they have to remain accessible, writers are easy targets. They are criticized by those who do not agree with the believability of their characters, the probability of their plots or the choice of genre for their tale. They are subjected to abuse for not eagerly accepting every first draft offered for their opinion. They are vilified as greedy for not accepting a fifty-fifty split for every idea as long as they do all the writing, editing and promotion.
As long as writing is inner driven, it is only attitude that keeps even its most onerous aspects from being fun. We all know the mental high of the first rush of creativity. Most of us dread the hours of rewrites and editing. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we do not do it for the readers. We write because it’s what we like to do. All jobs have aspects that are less fun than others, but that does not mean that all aspects are not fun.