We're at the beginning of another year. On Monday, we posted our annual "Word of the Year" blog. My main word is focus, but that's not my only word. I have seven more that are going to help me make major gains in my writing skill and my writing career. I hope they can help you to get where you want to be by the end of 2017.
Whether that means writing every day or not, I'm going engage in some activity that will advance my writing career. If you haven't finished your first book yet, make a weekly word count goal that is reasonable for you, and keep your fingers on the keyboard until you've achieved that word count every week. If you've finished a book, revise it. Revise it some more. Make it the best dang book you can. Send out queries, if you're looking for a traditional publishing path. Learn about self-publishing, if you're thinking about an indie path. If you haven't yet, develop your social media platform. Build a website. Every night when I go to bed, I'm going to say at least one thing I've done that day to advance my writing career.
2. Attitude: Clear my mind of can't. Use my attitude as a positive force.
I've done a little research into the power positive thinking has on everything in our lives. The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work published in The Huffington Post compares what negative thoughts do to your brain versus what positive thoughts can do. This article from Johns Hopkins Medicine shares ways to build "positivity" in your life. It turns out, Pollyanna was right, begins an article in the NY Times. Reasonable optimism can pay big dividends for you this year.
3. Adaptability equals survivability: Stay flexible to deal with unexpected challenges.
The publishing industry has been reshaping itself faster than a Rubic's cube in the hands of a pre-teen. As authors we, too, must accept that the old normal is gone forever. Many multi-published authors from years past are no longer on the shelves. Were they unable to weather the changes not only to publishing, but to the current necessity of author marketing? Building flexibility into my schedule will allow me to deal with life's curve balls while remaining professional and meeting my professional and personal deadlines. I'm going to use what I have at hand to conquer my challenges.
4. Knowledge: Stay humble and listen.
Last week I read an interesting quote about how you can close your mouth, but you can't close your ears. The Dalai Lama says you can't learn if you don't listen. I'm working to improve my craft by reading books on writing and reading writing blogs. I've taken classes-in person and online, practiced new writing techniques, and read in my genre and outside of it. I critique with trusted writers and listen to suggestions. I've changed scenes, heck-chapters, that I loved. Knowledge is power. Powerful writing is writing that empowers my readers to use their imaginations, to consider new ideas, to continue reading when they should be doing something else.
5. Excellence: Never lower my personal and professional standards.
We've all read a book that we suspect was hastily finished on deadline. It wasn't up to the author's usual punch. The expected biting humor fell flat. The ending, well, it just ended. When my expectations aren't met, I consider before buying that author's next book.
As writers, we make a commitment to our readers to deliver our best with every word. Readers don't know about the flu I had for three weeks before a deadline. I sure am not going to put a disclaimer on my book saying, "Warning, author's brain was fried by fever during the final edit." I'm taking the time necessary to make that book as good as I can. Luckily I built time into the production schedule for crisis management. And I've decided that perhaps I may have to release one less book this year.
6. Perseverance: My key to overcoming adversity.
The word most commonly associated with mathematicians is perseverance. Who dedicates her life to solving one problem? But even the perseverance I've had in my "other" career, sometimes withers when it comes to writing.
If writing and publishing a book were easy, everyone would be a published author. Give up in the face of the many adversities on this path, and I'll never be published. Some days, just sitting at the computer is a major adversity. And if I can't bring myself to write for a day, or two, or more, that's life impeding my dream. Oh, I eventually open up that story again and bring the lessons I've learned from my complicate life (whose isn't?) back to the page. I have to. I'm a writer. Perseverance will allow me to power through-or around-the obstacles to my writing goals. I will stay the course.
7. Courage: Stand by my dreams.
Courage can be a tricky thing to hang on to alone. While supporting the dreams of others, I've learned to support my own. Standing by my dreams means I dust myself off when I fall, and I write. I cry when that rejection letters arrives, but I send off another query-or five. I take the time to learn, to create a body of work I am proud of. I write with my heart, not just my brain. And when my expectations are not met, I have the courage to reevaluate, revise my plan, and renew my enthusiasm.
It's time to level-up your writing and your writing career. It may not be easy. These are the Seven Keys to Excellence that are the basis for Navy SEAL training. Yes. Navy SEALS are encouraged to use these keys in their professional and their personal lives.
You can do this.
Can you share a hint for implementing one of the Seven Keys to Excellence? Is there one that presents more difficulty for you?
Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.
Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than the horrors of calculus lessons gone wrong. She is grateful for good friends who remind her to do the practical things in life like grocery shop, show up at the airport for a flight and pay bills.
A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now shares her brain with characters who demand that their stories be told. Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard.
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