Georgia's latest book is Starting From Scratch, and I am pleased to welcome her to my blog, and to have her share some thoughts on the writing life. She is a fun and talented woman, so do enjoy.
Things I've Learned as a Writer
Having just celebrated a birthday – and unfortunately, the numbers are going up rather than down no matter how hard I wish otherwise – I have found myself reflecting on my writing career so far. I have some things in the hopper, several new ideas at once (which doesn’t happen often), and a third floor writing studio I’m working on, so being a writer has been taking up a lot of space in the forefront of my mind lately.
I’ve been a published author for over ten years now (holy crap) and I thought it might be fun to make a list of the things I’ve learned so far. Some may help you. Some may not. Some may make you laugh, roll your eyes, or nod in agreement. Whatever your reaction, here are the lessons I’ve learned in the first decade of being a writer, in no particular order:
You will always need an editor. Always. There are no two ways about this. I don’t care if you’ve been writing for fifty years. There will always be plot holes you can’t see. There will always be the possibility that you love your characters so much you haven’t noticed the unrealistic personalities you’ve given them. There will always be typos. There will always be overused words or phrases. And if you’re me, there will always be the inability to use ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ the right way.
You will never please everybody. Somebody will always hate your book. Whether they’re jealous because you can write and they can’t or they harbor some grudge against you or your work is just not their cup of tea, somebody will always give you a crappy review somewhere on the internet. Do what I do if you’re sensitive about such things: avoid reviews like the plague. If there’s a glowing one somewhere, somebody who loves you will find it and forward it to you.
The next idea will always come. This is one that I have an especially hard time with. When I finish a book, I immediately start to worry about never having another good idea. Ever. Trust me, you may be drawing a blank in the awesome new story department, but don’t fret. You are not a one-trick pony. You are not a fluke. Just relax. It’ll come. It always does. I promise.
You’re not the only one. If you want to feel better about your process/handling of reviews/methods of outlining/worries as a writer/etc., find the websites of some of your favorite authors and read interviews with them. Nine times out of ten, they suffer the same concerns, fears, and frustrations as you do while they’re working. Believe me, it was an incredible relief when I read that one of my favorite authors inevitably thinks her current project sucks toilet water about halfway through. So do I. Every time. Never fails. You’re not alone. Remember that.
Do what works for you. I used to constantly read about other writers’ methods for outlining or character development or researching or whatever. Rarely were they the same as mine and for a while, I thought I was doing things incorrectly. But as I continued to write – and to grow as a writer – I realized that whatever works for me is the process I should use. There are no right ways and wrong ways to develop a novel. Do what works for you. You’re fine.
Writers are never done growing. I do admit that my favorite book of mine is usually whichever one I’m working on currently, simply because I feel like I continue to grow and improve as a writer, so my most recent work is my best. We are in a career where we will (hopefully) never plateau. I’m sure some writers find a comfortable spot and stay there. There’s nothing wrong with “I do this well, so I’m going to keep doing it.” But writing is an amazing job. We have such control. We can do whatever we want. I have spent the past ten years writing romance. And I could keep doing that. And I probably will. However, if I want to try my hand at something else (and I do), I can do that. And I probably will. I love that about this job. I am in total control. If I want to write a murder mystery, I can (though I can’t promise it won’t suck toilet water). If I want to try my hand at paranormal suspense, I can. And if I do it well, my readers will come along for the ride because they trust me. This is an amazingly satisfying career and if I have my way, I will never retire. How awesome is that?
Causes Marianne Martin Supports
HRC, Michigan Equality, Gay & Lesbian Task Force, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, ASPCA, HSUS