Sometimes, when I’m not absorbed in my own fiction and that need to flip windows is strong, I head over to a blog that I was first introduced to by a friend on livejournal. The blog, deanwesleysmith.com, is one I have been extremely grateful to have found. I don’t think that Just a Whim would be published if not for articles there, the new world of publishing ones and killing the sacred cows of publishing.
I happened to go from there to an article that he’d linked to, 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing.
I read over the list, finding things that yes, I have done and sometimes still do.
So… What did I do on the list?
1. Running Away? Did that for most of last year after completing Just a Whim. I didn’t want to edit it, didn’t want to fix the issues that were pointed out, and was scared to publish it. Well, no more running. It’s out there. It’s done. Ha.
2. Stopping? I had quit All the Men in My Life for a while. I put it away, did other things, pulled it back out, and then I put it away again until November, and then it took off and got done, mostly because I was supposed to be working on Any Other Reality. I have other stories that are still stopped. Can they be restarted? Maybe. Or maybe they should stay right where they are.
3. Writing in Someone Else’s Voice? To my knowledge, I do not and have never done this. I write stories like other people’s stories, maybe, or you might call fanfiction someone else’s voice because I make sure the characters are true to what I’ve seen/read, but I always thought there was enough of me coming out in it.
4. Worrying? Yeah, I’ve known about this one for a while, and yes, I still do it. I can’t stop. Or so I keep saying. I’ve been working on it, though.
5. Hurrying? I know I’ve felt like time is getting away from me and that all of these books that I’ve finished lately need to be published right this instant. Not true, of course, because they need edits and cover art and other things, but I still want them done, now, and out there. I also want to get through more stories because I’ll never have the time to do all the ones in my brain and I keep getting more ideas.
6. Waiting? Well… Waiting has to happen, in some things. I am waiting for other people to give me edits. I am waiting for cover art. Am I waiting for writing? No. I write daily. I have The Not-So-Super Superhero, The Monster in My Garden Shed, and the second novel in the Nickel and Dime series, and more that want to be written that I might just give into.
7. Thinking It Should Be Easier? I have a fairly natural gift for writing and the stories just come sometimes. Not always the case with editing. Not easy to find readers. Not easy to get feedback. Not easy to make changes. Not easy to make art. Not easy to promote. Not easy to make money. So I’ve learned these things. I have started to accept them, too.
8. Deprioritizing Your Wordsmithy? Nope. Not guilty of that. Ever. Sorry, but if all I do is write (and that’s pretty much true) how could I possibly be deprioritizing it? Even the stuff I have to fight to get out is better than it was years ago, I know that much. I am improving with everything I write.
9. Treating Your Body Like a Dumpster? Well, yeah. I have depression, too, and there are days where I don’t care about taking care of myself, don’t even feel like eating. So, yes, guilty. Part of the reason for the Great Hat and Hair Experiment of 2012 is to make sure I take care of myself and pride in my appearance for change. Oh, but I did somehow lose ten pounds last year, so I think that’s something.
10. The Moping and the Whining? Haven’t quit that yet. I was doing it this morning. So that’s something to work on, too. On the other hand, I have made great strides in moving past that. I pulled out the file for the Not-So-Super Superhero and I wrote on it and cleaned a bit and worked with my cover artist. So there.
11. Blaming Everyone Else? I admit, it has been convenient for me to put the whole editing thing on everyone else. I didn’t have edits back, so I could pretend I didn’t have to work on them myself. My cover artist was busy, so I didn’t have cover art. Does that mean that I shouldn’t have done anything? No. It also doesn’t mean that I didn’t do anything. I wrote. I keep writing. I keep creating ideas. I keep blogging and updating the website and the facebook. I’ve done pretty good, but I did blame a few things on other people, yes.
12. Shame? I don’t know that I’ve ever been ashamed to be a writer. I’m sick of getting asked if I’m doing homework when I’m writing, since I am not in high school and haven’t been for a decade, but hey, I look like I’m sixteen, so it’s awesome being mistaken for a student all the time. Not. Am I hesitant to share things with people? Yes. But I’ve been kind of burned before, so that’s why. I’m paranoid about people taking my ideas, too. I don’t know why, but I am.
13. Lamenting My Mistakes? Oh, that’s something I’m still working on. Yeah, I can’t seem to let go of those old ones. As far as writing goes, I’m getting better at fixing them. In real life? Not so much.
14. Playing It Safe? Hmm. Well, I am a coward by nature, I admit that. I’m not sure that I’m necessarily a coward when it comes to fic. I am trying to break free from my “types” and likes and have a whole list of things I’m not allowed to do in the next new things I do because I’ve already over done them, but that’s more of a part of number sixteen instead.
15. Trying to Control What You Can’t Control? Guilty. Yeah, I would love to control it all, and I get frustrated when I can’t. I’m working on accepting what I can and cannot change, though. It is an improvement from years past, but a lot of work to go there, too. Right now, I don’t look at reports or traffic and just try and keep my mind on writing.
16. Writing One Thing? I’m worried I’m writing the same characters over and over. Not that they’re all alike. That’s not what I’m saying. But I have a type, that’s true, and I’m trying to break free of that type, give myself some new changes, though I’ll always love those types. As far as variety, I’ve got science fiction and mysteries and even a bit of fantasy, so I don’t think I’m limited by genre by any means.
17. Writing for the “Market?” Um, no. Don’t think I’ve ever done that. I write for me, to tell that story I want to tell, and while it still stings and hurts if no one wants to read it or it doesn’t sell, I still enjoyed it. That’s okay by me. I still stick by that advice I read long ago: “write what you want to read.” And I do.
18. Chasing Trends? Okay, I snorted when I read that. I do maintain that there is no such thing as a completely new idea, just new spins on them. So, I admit that nothing is completely my own, but you sure as hell won’t find me doing any sparkling vampires or writing for teenagers.
19. Caring About What Others Are Doing? Again, a bit of laughter. My friend had a hard time convincing me to look at other authors’ websites to see what I could do to improve mine. My reasoning? I didn’t care what they were doing, and I wasn’t going to copy anyone.
20. Caring About the Publishing Industry? I think I know enough to know what I’m doing, hopefully, and that’s all I need to know.
21. Listening to What Won’t Sell? I had someone ask me to collaborate with them on a script project a while back. I learned the technique, the formula, and I said, no. He wanted me to follow what worked for the network, and I agree, it works. For them. Not for me. I don’t write that way. I would rather sell nothing at all then try and force myself to write what supposedly will. I’ll write the story I need to tell, nothing more, nothing less.
22. Overpromising and Overshooting? I don’t think I’ve done that. I’ve set some goals that I missed, particularly in publishing Just a Whim, but I have learned from them. I have never been big on making promises because I know I’m not good at keeping them. I just set somewhat realistic challenges. I knew I was capable of Nanowrimo, knew I could maintain a daily blog story, and so far, I have. Overshooting? Maybe with the three novel completion in November…
23. Leaving Yourself off the Page? Not a crime I’m guilty of. Every character has a bit of me in them, even if it’s only my love of coffee. The places are based off where I’ve been. I mean, the garden shed story started because of the garden shed incident (more on that later) and so I don’t think I’ve left myself out of any of my original stuff. Even some of my not-so-original stuff had me bleeding on the page. Oh, and my stories made me laugh and made me cry.
24. Dreaming? Do we count story dreams in this? Not going to stop them, but I do think I’m doing a lot more than I used to, putting it down on paper, sharing it with others, and taking those steps toward publishing.
25. Being Afraid? I said before: coward. Still, if I could overcome the fear of getting that first book out there, and I did, then I’m not only way past where I was two years ago, I know I can handle doing the next one and so on. Publishing doesn’t terrify me anymore. I want to publish. I want to write–that hasn’t changed, but I know I can do the rest of it, too.