It’s only Feb and already 2015 is taking off like a rocket for me and my projects, I’m very pleased to say! I have several events booked which I shall attend to sell & sign copies of my first SciFi novel Zero (as well as some spiffy merch) and the second book in the series, Haven, is due back from the editor within a week or so ahead of some final tweaks and its release in Oct 2015.
I’m also busy promoting No Way Home, a dystopian SciFi anthology featuring short stories by myself and 7 other new & established SciFi writers which is due out in March (see my original blog post and let me know if you would like a FREE advance copy of the ebook in exchange for a review) AND I have been given a deadline for novel number three, the first draft of which needs to be done by the end of the year. So time to start planning!
This is all so very exciting for me. Even knowing how far I’ve still got to go, I can’t stop grinning when I think how far I’ve come. It is all due partially to luck, but also because of my scorn for my old nemesis: The Laurels.
Laurels Are The Enemy. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO REST ON THEM.
I’m not saying you need to put uncomfortable amounts of pressure on yourself – writing is supposed to be fun, after all – but I certainly find that if you don’t stop writing, whether it’s your sprawling epic WIP, short stories, flash fiction just for fun or a blog entry to order your thoughts about yogurt, you stay engaged. You realise over and over again why you love it. You get better all the time and, most importantly, you get shiz done.
This might seem obvious, but getting shiz done is the fundamental, fool-proof way of getting somewhere with your writing and yet is quite often not given first priority. I understand a writer’s commitment to developing style, technique, voice, originality…but for people to discover, read and/or buy your work, and for you to be able to refine all these techinical things, you need to actually write and release.
I know it can be a scary thing for new writers to take that first step and risk letting that first ‘proper’ project out of their hands – be it to a writers’ group for feedback, onto a blog, out to an agent or editor or out into the world through the medium of self-publishing. It’s true that it’s scary, but be brave! If you want to be a writer that people read, it has to be out there. So don’t be scared. Let it run! Let it be free!
And then get started on the next one. Yes. Now. Seriously!
Writing takes time and commitment so the only way to get shiz done is to sink buckets of both into it. Whilst you’re shopping round one manuscript, start or at least plan the next. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use all your projects, or if you change some of them, or if some of them never get past the planning stage. To be able to start building up a catalogue of work, you need a choice of work to work with. (Lots of ‘work’ in that sentence I know – but this is because it is! A lot of work, I mean.)
Don’t be frightened that you’re no good or that people won’t find you or that they won’t understand or like your work if they do. The world is a BIG place. Believe me, your audience is out there. Everyone starts somewhere and I can state for a fact that there will not be another writer out there that will develop your ideas the way you will and, most importantly, you won’t learn or get better or discover which road to take until you start taking chances.
And once you’ve taken that first chance, well, there’s nothing to stop you taking the next. And the next. And then the one after that.
Take breaks, of course. Don’t burn yourself out. Give yourself distance from your projects. Have tea. Spend time with friends. Go away on holiday. READ. Accrue life experience. But don’t be tempted to rest on those laurels for too long. Remember, there’s a lot of work in writing books and you need lots of books out there to build up your audience.
Of course, if you just write for yourself and you haven’t got your eyes set on world domination, then your relationship with your laurels is entirely your own. But if you want to go somewhere with it, have fiction out there for people to read, books out there for people to buy, poetry out there for people to covet, then avoid those laurels like the plague.
When you are waiting for one project to come back from the editor whilst planning the next one, have a vague plan for the next series sketched out alongside your current drafts along with ideas for several blog posts, short stories and a list of upcoming announcements scribbled in your notebooks, congratulations, you’re getting shiz done!