First Rule of Writing

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There are almost as many writing guides as there are writers. Writing classes, blogs, and books, all telling you how to write that novel, short story, or email.

They natter on about characters, plot, setting. Discuss style, voice, and point of view. Tell you more than you ever wanted to know about grammar, but…

They don’t tell you how to get it done. How to drag the words out of your brain and pop them onto your screen.

They don’t mention the first rule of writing—

Stock Up On Chocolate.

Anyone who’s stared at a blank screen, deleted pages while weeping onto their keyboards, or tapped out two miserably, mediocre sentences in two hours knows that chocolate is essential.

Or coffee.

Preferably, a combination of the two.

New York Post

To paraphrase Kevin Costner in A Field of Dreams…Stock up on chocolate, and the words will come.

Aimer at Amazon

To Write, Or Not To Write…

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I thought it was just me, but no, most writers procrastinate.

It’s not only common, it’s expected.

Professional authors, as opposed to amateurs with access to a laptop—uh, that would be me—have coping mechanisms. Things likes deadlines, agents, and editors who aren’t their relatives. People who smack them upside the head and say, “Get to work.”

My coping mechanisms are Netflix, computer games, and online shopping. Oh, and reading. Reading other people’s books, people who write better than I ever will.

Ah, you noticed that, did you? Fine, I don’t have coping mechanisms. I have a carefully curated selection of aiding and abetting mechanisms.

Full disclosure? Procrastination and I have always been embarrassingly intimate. Avoidance is pretty much part of my DNA, and definitely part of my writing style. Sometimes though, the why and when of it surprise me.

Olympic marathons of procrastination before I type the first word of a new book, mini-sprints at the start of each new chapter, these I understand. Comes with the territory when you don’t draft outlines. When you have no map to follow, and each chapter is a leap into the unknown.

Yesterday however, I hit a new level of avoidance. Two paragraphs into a new chapter, the trail emerged, breadcrumbs spreading out before me, and knew where I wanted to go—and I hit save. Walked away from my desk.

What? Why?

Procrastinating because an empty white page is daunting, that I understand. But procrastinating when the way forward lights up in front of you?

That’s a new low, even for me.

Aimer at Amazon

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I thought writing was easy, until I tried to do it. From that first kernel of an idea to the last page of proofreading, it’s a struggle.

If you want anyone to read what you’ve written, there are yet more hurdles to jump. Whether you go the self-publishing route or the traditional one, people have to find your book before they can read it.

Let’s say you’ve written an amazing book, you’ve got it on Amazon. Home free, right? You can sit back, watch the money roll into your bank account, ink a movie deal?

Okay, maybe Netflix won’t be calling you, but you can quit your day job, right?

Not so fast.

  • 50% of all authors are poor, earning less than the poverty level.
  • 80% of all authors earn less than what most people would consider a living wage.
  • Self-published authors earn 80% less than traditional published authors.
  • 2018 saw the release of 1.68 million self-published titles.
  • Statistics taken from an Authors Guild report based on American data.

In the entire history of the written word, it has never been easier to write and publish a book, or harder to make a living at it.

If I was twenty-one, just out of university, these statistics might make me rethink a writing career, but I’m not. Rather than depress the hell out of me, these numbers make me feel better about my not-so-stellar career as a self-publishing author.

1.68 million titles in 2018? The fact that I sold any books at all is a freaking miracle!

Aimer at Amazon