In Defense of the Struggle That’s Real: For Authors
Hey, you, the pale one, bags under your eyes that could rival a blue light special, crumbs on your chest and a crick in your neck from hunching over a keyboard. Do your eyes feel like sandpaper yet? For a sedentary job, it sure hurts. Seen the sun lately? Friends stopped calling long ago. #The struggle is real.
That’s what this is, and most people don’t want to do it because it comes dressed in ripped and stained yoga pants and looks a hell of a lot like work.
Maybe you are lucky. Your loved ones are supportive. Even then, it’s a lonely road — a long hard slog into a winter night without a coat. Or maybe you are like me, with a masochistic streak as deep as the scars on my inner wrists, and this is like coming home.
So, for those of you who’ve chosen the narrow path, the authorpreneurial road less traveled, a few words of advice and encouragement:
The first thing you need to fix is your attitude. Life isn’t fair. Do you understand? Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, and there is a whole lot of neutral in between. The fickle finger of fate points to all. You can’t control ANYTHING in life except your ATTITUDE.
What you must do, is work hard, take risks, and keep at it. This will build your confidence, and you must, you absolutely must reward yourself for doing this REGARDLESS of the outcome. In many instances, the outcome is beyond your control. I would be remiss to not state that there are certain things you can do, of course, to affect a positive outcome. But as they say, sh*t happens. Your attitude is the only thing you can control.
So, when the friends quit calling, the family doesn’t want to read your work, you get a one-star review, your attitude and your confidence will shield you and give you the strength to keep working.
2. Be prolific
You need to set a goal — a wordcount, page, or chapter count per day and stick to it. This will become a habit. Habits are hard to break. Start small. It’s like putting a pebble in a bucket of water. Eventually you will get enough pebbles to create spillover. Don’t worry if it is ‘not good enough’ or worse, utter dross. The point is to play a numbers game and play it well. You do that by being prolific. You do this way before you start editing, and before you start researching and honing your craft. You have to have a lump of clay to work with in order to make a vase.
Research, take workshops, read and read and read everyone more talented and more knowledgeable than you. Join writing groups, online or in person, and learn from those who have had some success at this game. Keep your mouth shut and check your ego at the door. Pay attention, be a sponge and then go implement the things you’ve learned into your own work.
4. Many roads lead to Rome
They’re dark, ridden with potholes, unsavory bandits, covered in brambles, but they are legion. There are many ways to do this job. Enroll in KU or go wide . . . there is no hard answer here. You have to do what is best for you and what is going to work for your specific book(s).
Don’t get roped in by “rules” that aren’t really rules. Most rules are more like “guidelines.” Again, if you protect your attitude, hone your craft, and are prolific, you’ll find success. It can happen overnight, it can more likely take years, but it does happen if you don’t give up.
5. Ditch your ‘friends’
Yeah, I said it. You’re trying to build something here, and the most important element of that is your attitude. It’s nigh on impossible to keep your attitude in check if you hear a lot of nay-saying. Anyone who doesn’t support you that you aren’t forced to live with, you need to cut down on your time with that person. Or better yet, wipe the slate clean and get some new friends. There are seven billion people on the planet, and a lot of them are supportive. Go hang out with them.
Good luck, stay warm out there, and happy writing.