In the last week of October, a week before NaNoWriMo, I got an opportunity to watch a series of presentations aiming to make a profitable author out of your shy, writing-for-the-pleasure-of-it self. It was a five day event, each day sessions were free for 24 hours, or accessible forever, if you pay. Which was only fair, because the woman who put it together did a tremendous job.
There is a challenge you can take online to become a profitable author in a few months, and this event was some sort of warming up stage before the real workout. I’m not advertising for them so I can’t get into more details.
Unfortunately, I’m sure that, despite my sometimes inhuman determination, I won’t become a five- or six-figure author any time soon.
The problem is that lots of the things they suggest don’t work for me. I have a full-time job, and I’m a full-time mother. I haven’t slept six hours straight since my first child was born. I don’t have much of social life. I stopped watching TV long ago…
What looks achievable in theory–and probably works for some in practice–is different in reality for most of us. So no shortcuts to financial success for me, I’m afraid. I struggle with the most basic requirement: time for writing. If I can spare 4-5 hours per week for writing (I read for about two hours every day, but reading is not negotiable) my serotonin level immediately jumps up.
I don’t attend such events hoping to get a magic formula to do the impossible. I participate (when I have time, that is) because I can still benefit from them. The presenters are experts in their fields, and they know what they’re talking about. I learned many new and interesting tips, and heard lots of sound suggestions.
One participant, for example, talked about the three biggest misconceptions that prevent us from finishing our books. Here they are:
1) perfect is possible, 2) later exists, 3) your book doesn’t matter to anyone.
Well, perfect is not possible. Know when you are done. Ask for feedback. Put your book away for some time, add or change something that you missed doing, and send it to the editor.
I felt as if she was talking to me and my never-ending work on my third/fourth book.
Later does not exist. Things can happen to prevent you from doing it later. There is no ideal time to write, but the best time is now. Find the way it works for you.
Couldn’t argue with that.
Your book is important. You are the only person who can tell this story.
And others do care. If you believe in your book, the chances are others will too. Believe in yourself, like Luke Skywalker just before he blew up the Death Star.
We often hear we’re all special, the participant continued. Yes, we are. So are the rest of the eight billion or so people. Not a big deal. But then she said something I really liked: Don’t only be special. OWN it. Owning your uniqueness is a completely different matter from just being unique. Owning makes you stand out.
Encourage yourself the same way you’d encourage others. When you hear that horrible voice saying, “What you’re doing is silly and stupid,” when you have doubts (“Who cares about the love story between Lucy and Charlie? You’re writing some silly romance so that you can use a sexy cover? Why are you writing in English? It’s not your first language. Write in your mother tongue; at least you can be your own editor. Why do you write about wizards and werewolves and not about women in middle age crises?”) Tell yourself what you’d tell your friend who feels, thinks, believes she can write a book: “Go for it. Of course you can do it, and of course it will be awesome. And besides, we do want to know Lucy and Charlie’s love story because their happily-ever-after will make us happy and satisfied for a moment. And sometimes a moment is enough…
Next time I’ll tell you what I learned about book covers.