Ah. Sweet, sweet 2017. Please don’t murder us all, kay?
All Game of Thrones jokes aside. This was a rough year. Battling essays, slaying my worst fears and traumas, and finally getting out the gates of college wasn’t easy. If life wasn’t easy for you either, I’d like to give you a virtual high-five.
You made it. Thank the old gods and the new that we’re all still here with our sanity in tact. (Sorry, I still had one more GoT joke in there.)
But now to the main meat: writing. Though 2016 was a terrible year for everything else, I had a phenomenal year for writing because of a few things:
1.Making The Decision To Stop Picking Up How To Write Books And Instead Read Authors Who Were Way Better Than Me
Specifically going back to read as many Pulitzers as I could. Pulitzers are Pulitzers for a reason and there’s a ton of writing knowledge to be learned from these. I was in the middle of a description writing quest when I started doing this, and what took me over the edge was reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and, one of my favorite books of all time, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
Sure craft books are essential to a beginner’s arsenal, but they aren’t the great Mount Fuji of your improvement journey.
But also once you’ve read so many, they start to sound the similar to eat other. Novels, on the other hand, don’t share this problem! 😀
2.Making The Decision To Search For Author Skills In Unusual Places
When I say “author skills”, I’m not talking about just writing settings, creating characters, plotting and junk like that.
I’m talking about skills that are good for authors to have but are not as broadly advertised as author skills like branding, making covers, website building, formatting ebooks, networking, speaking, SEO, content marketing, and email lists.
These are the important skills that come back to bite you where the sun doesn’t shine no matter how good your novel, short stories, flash fiction is.
Because if no one knows who you are, then what you’re selling won’t matter and won’t sell. On the other hand, we get surprised when things like Twilight blow up and sell millions when it doesn’t seem that good, but in reality, if enough people see something, react, and share it, then really the content is arbitrary.
Don’t believe me? Then see this. It’s a video of a woman sitting on a toilet in case you’re wondering and don’t feel like looking.
And just that. It’s not inspiring, helpful, or “good” in any way, but over five million people have seen it.
3.Making The Decision To Not Perpetuate The Idea Of The ‘Tortured Artist’
Jelly Crepes Almighty this stereotype makes me want to bang my head against the wall sometimes. Now I understand that there were creative people out there who had some issues: Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and Robert Lowell. I could go on. But people with legitimate issues don’t bug me.
People who think that they must be in X/Y/Z horrific condition to write, draw, or do anything creative, however, do. I’ve had this said to me, and I feel like it’s a load of crock.
But this is because I think of writing like thermodynamics: energy isn’t created or destroyed, it’s transferred. Or in the words of dear old Robert Frost…
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
So likewise, no enthusiasm in the writer, no enthusiasm in the reader. As someone who has looked over a lot of drafts of a lot of people, there is a world of a difference in a reading something written by someone who is having a ball versus someone who is just wallowing in the puddles of their own darkness.
But also I’ve been that person who has wallowed in darkness. Enthusiasm wins every day of the week.
4.Making The Decision To Challenge Myself And Constantly Improve
You will never catch me stagnating at the same level in my writing. When I saw just how awesome a writing could become, the desire to be that good broke out like a rash. So I started devising exercises, looking at books, reading articles, and even taking poetry classes to get better at writing my novels.
I’m finally able to say that I’m at a place where I’m satisfied with the level of writing I put out and I’m even more excited to be able to have another chance to improve the next day day after that.
5.Making The Decision To Put Writing First
No excuses. No exceptions. It gets done everyday. 😉