Thursday, July 07, 2011

Writers Benefit from Taking Their Own Advice

Ever found yourself listening to the words that were coming out of your own mouth? Have you ever done so and thought to yourself, "Wow! You're one smart cookie!"

I've had a few such occassions. Most recently I was giving a pep talk to my teenage daughter about her (our) desire to lose weight. WAIT! Before you say, "Losing weight has nothing to do with writing" and you move on to the next blog post, hold on a sec. The advise that I gave her applies just as much to ones writing goals.

1. Starting out, don't focus on your longterm goals. Instead, set small, measurable goals. For weight loss that small goal could be something like eat a fruit or vegetable with each meal. For writing, it could be a goal of writing for 15-20 minutes each day.

2. Keep your focus on what you want out of this effort. Obviously, for weight loss the BIG picture is to lose weight, but this piece of advice is about the longer term goal. For a teenager, it may be to lose at least 3 dress sizes by prom, which is anywhere from 1-4 yrs. For a writer, it may be to make it on a national bestseller list. In order to do that, you have constantly work on your craft and network. This could mean taking writing classes in the areas where you may be weak. Seeking out honest critiques of your work--not from family and friends. Attend conferences & workshops. Start out with the free ones. There are plenty to choose from in just about every city!  Don't just write stuff for the sake of publishing. Write for the sake of perfecting your craft. The more involved you get, the more work you'll see is involved in making your literary dreams come true. But, if you stay focused on what you want out of this--whatever that is for you--there'll be no doubt it's worth every effort.

3. Don't compare yourself to others. When trying to lose weight, it always seems like everyone else around you can eat whatever they want, not workout, and still have awesome bodies. Now, when we see people like this, we don't know a thing about their genetic make-up, whether they're using weight loss supplements, whether they're throwing everything up when they get home, or whether they have a plastic surgeon's number on speeddial. Point is, you'll drive yourself totally mad trying to compare apples to oranges. It's no different with writing. Don't compare how many followers you have on Twitter compared to another author or how many readers purchase the books of another author at a book event compared to yourself. On the outside looking in, you don't know the struggle of that fellow author that has gotten them to the point where they are today. For all you know, you may be comparing yourself to an author who's been in the writing & publishing game for 10+ years compared to your 3. I'm telling you, just watch a few of those episodes of Behind the Music or Unsung. Take note that most superstars didn't start out that way. Many were signed to their record labels for years before they actually gained any notoriety. It's no different for writers. The most important thing you can do is keep working towards the longterm goals.

Taking my own advice, here are a few short-term goals that I'm working on:

Work on your book, blog, newsletter, website a minimum of 3 times per week.
Forget about self-imposed deadlines for your book, just keep working on it weekly 'til it's done!
Tweet at least once a day about your current book or upcoming book.
Retweet something interesting by another author.
Comment on another's authors' website, blog, or FB page.

Your Author Friend, L.A. Jefferson
Follow me on Twitter @lajefferson

No comments: