This post was written specifically for the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop.
I’m going to take a slightly different tack with this month’s Author Toolbox post. To one degree or another the majority of my previous posts, with the possible exception of the first, have been about techniques or tools you can use. This time, I want to try talking about mindset.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your writing profession, all the way from 1st draft of the first work to shopping around your Xth finished work, it seems to me that there are certain things that you’re going to have to accept. And just to be clear, I’m talking about things that are almost entirely beyond your control. Things that will not change no matter what you do. Some of these might be subject to the whims and preferences of other people (readers, editors, etc.), some might be the result of your own psychology. While I’m sure there are plenty that I’m not considering right now, here are some that have been on my mind lately.
- Not everyone is going to like your work.
Do you like every book you pick up? Everyone’s tastes are different and it stands to reason that, regardless of how good your story is, there’s going to be someone out there that doesn’t respond to it. And that’s okay, you’ll be in good company. If in doubt, please have a look at this recent collection of 1-star review comments from the Weatherwax Report.
- Not everyone is going to understand what you’re trying to do.
Not to pull the poor, misunderstood artist card or anything like that but there are plenty of misconceptions about writers and the writing process. There’s a reason Nicola Noble made it a question on #TweepWriter earlier this week. I’ve included the link so you can scroll through some of the answers.
- Your first draft is never going to be perfect.
You can’t realistically expect to nail everything dead on with your initial attempt. A first draft is just that. If you can accept this and keep putting words down, keep your story moving, it might make things easier for you.
- Chances are, some days you’re going to feel like quitting.
Unless you happen to have rock-solid self-confidence and, if you do, more power to you), you’re going to have some doubts about what you’re doing. Maybe you haven’t written as much as you wanted to. Maybe you’re not writing at all. Maybe something did you write got torn apart (see #1). Call it self-doubt, call it imposter syndrome, call it whatever you like; at some point, something like that is going to happen and it will make you question what you’re doing. The hard part is going to be understanding that these feelings are only natural, but not necessarily to be acted on.
- Your final draft is still going to need work.
Several people; beta readers, agents, editors, will all have opinions about what they think your work should be. Ideally, they’ll help you make it stronger.
- Even once your work is complete, you might not be satisfied.
If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you might still find yourself second-guessing things. Word choices, plot points, character moments. There might always be something that niggles at you.
- Even if you have a completed work and people like it, there’s still no guarantees.
Sure you may have sold some books and they may have done well. Does that mean an automatic deal for your next work? Maybe not. Victor Milan recently put out a Facebook post regarding some bad news he had received, which I’ll paraphrase here.
Bad News #1: Claire “the Editor” Eddy at Tor has officially passed on THE DIESEL MAGI. She said it was too pulpy for her tastes.
Bad News #2: Tor apparently remains unready to buy the second DinoLords trilogy, aka The Rest of the Story.
That baffles me. All three books seem to have sold well. As you may recall, DinoKnights spent a month at least on the B&N SF/F best-seller Top 10 best-seller list – and even though it was, as I recall, in 9th place, all but like two of the ones ranked higher were by some dude named George R.R. Martin, and #10 was by Neil Freaking Gaiman. I was and am pretty pleased to have cracked that company.
The full piece can be found on his Facebook page, posted on September 12th. And it goes to show that some success doesn’t always mean the end of the struggle.
Seven seems like a good number, plus it is getting a bit late. If you have your own items of acceptance, please let me know in the comments section.
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