7 Truths Writers (Probably) Won’t Admit Out Loud

Highlight the ones that apply to you and go confess your sins afterward.

#1 We stalk our readers on Goodreads to see what their progress updates say

But only because we value and crave feedback. Not because we’re paranoid. Why would we be paranoid?

#2 We don’t write as much as we pretend to

Raise your hand if you’ve tweeted #amwriting when you’ve done nothing of the sort. Good, now put it down and get to work.

#3 We do care about the money

Despite a hundred wise (and obnoxious) sayings to the contrary, most of us want to earn money through our writing, and it’s frustrating when sales are constantly flatlined. Not that I’m trying to be a Scrooge, but “I write because that’s who I am” doesn’t pay many expenses.

#4 We have at least one genre we hold a grudge against, though we’d never say so out loud

For me, it’s paranormal romance (sorry?). For you, it might be fantasy, and I forgive you.

#5 Knowing someone’s reading our book scares the sock monkeys out of us

Because a fraction of our soul is about to be either approved or rejected and if that doesn’t make you break a sweat, I don’t know what will.

#6 We easily get jealous of right-place-right-time authors who pop out of nowhere and make big bucks without visible effort

Is jealousy a fault? Yes. Is it natural? Also yes. But while we applaud the writers who find success through hard work, every now and then it genuinely feels like some people get it all handed to them and then some. (Oh, and is it a coincidence that those out-of-nowhere bestsellers tend to be the mediocre ones? Maybe. I’m trying not to be too salty here.)

#7 We joke about procrastination when it’s actually a legitimate problem

Every time I scroll down my Twitter feed I spot a few tweets making some snarky remark about procrastination. And yes, I do it too. But still…if we did something to solve the issue instead of seeking mutual giggles on social media, perhaps we’d have less to tweet about and more to publish? Oops.


Disclaimer: I wrote the list based on personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt. Got anything to confess or add? Drop a comment below. Subscribe and follow me on Twitter to receive your complimentary bunny in a teacup.

And as always, have a great day!

7 Types of Writing Days

Disciplined productivity days

Inspiration is for the weak. You get up early, set a goal, and achieve it. Interruptions, discomfort, or fatigue aren’t roadblocks – they’re hurdles, and you’re trained enough to clear them with ease and keep on writing.

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Panicked productivity days

Keyword: deadlines. You thought you’d have plenty of time. You were wrong…again. Dang it, Youtube! Time to sit down in a frenzy and churn out words like there’s no tomorrow. Which, for you, is pretty much the case.

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Chaotic cosmic intervention days

The universe has a grudge against you today. Anything that could go wrong does go wrong. The powers that be hurl everything your way: interruptions and distractions knock on your door (sometimes literally) on a rush-hour schedule. You really wanted to get work done, but life has other plans, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Benefic cosmic intervention days

The universe has blessed you today. You had your doubts when you got up in the morning, but all the pieces fall into place quite nicely. Your tea doesn’t spill, no one interrupts you all morning, and your characters pull through once again. You cross your fingers and hope for the same tomorrow.

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“This muse is on fire!” days

You didn’t think it was possible for words to come out of your fingertips so fast. Distractions don’t even tempt you today, and if someone’s banging on your door, you won’t hear them over the sound of your muse, who sings inspiration at the top of her lungs. If all days were like today, you wouldn’t even need discipline! If only…

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Canned vegetable days

In which your brain takes on the form of the titular preserved greens, and becomes cold, lumpy, and impossible to crack open. Your word count and your energy levels are about the same: zero. And it’s not even lunchtime yet.

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“It’s going to be a long night” days

The causes of this day type are varied: inspiration, fatigue, procrastination, or deadlines can all be blamed at one time or another. Regardless, one truth remains anchored in your mind: it is indeed going to be a very late night. You go make tea. Lots of tea.

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I hope today is a good day for you. Even if it’s not, remember that tomorrow will be better (probably…maybe).

 

5 Ways Writing Teaches Humility

Writing is a career for the humble. Or, as the case may be for some, writing as a career teaches humility. Here are a few of the reasons why this is true:

You will make mistakes

Mistakes are an inevitable part of writing. Whether it’s a minor plot hole in your published book or a typo in your latest tweet, mistakes remind us that nobody creates flawless art.

There is always more to learn

No matter how many books we write, our next work will be better. Improvement is a blessing and a goal, but it also keeps us from getting too smug about our current skills (at least in retrospect).

Someone will always disagree with you

That bad review will come. That upset tweet reply will come. That offended email will come. It’s only a matter of time. Writers can’t please everyone, nor should we try. At the same time, these responses can be a reality check to remind us that we’re not on top of the world yet.

The bulk of your work goes unnoticed

Perhaps the most humbling truth of all is that 90% of the work you do will never be seen, applauded, or even acknowledged most of the time. People don’t see the months and years of toil at a lonely desk. They only see the finished product, and even that gets taken for granted sometimes.

Rewards aren’t guaranteed

Even after all the work we put into our craft, writers aren’t guaranteed sales, income, recognition, or success in any measure. It’s out there, for sure, and we can take it if we’re good (and lucky) enough, but I have yet to meet a writer who chose that path out of a desire for financial or social success.


Keep your chin up, writer, and be proud of who you are and what you do. Just be ready for your own work to pull the pride-rug out from under you now and then. And remember, humility is a virtue, not a flaw. Embrace it.

In the meantime, have a great day!

The Writer’s Dictionary: An Alphabetical Sample

Amwriting (v): a hashtag commonly used on social media to indicate when a writer is most distracted.

Book (n): the physical manifestation of the writer’s soul. Not to be confused with horcrux.

Creativity (n): a nutrient absorbed from caffeine.

Dialogue (v): to argue with one’s characters.

Editor (n): a medieval torture device.

Fan (n): 1. a device used to blow papers off a desk; 2. one who habitually smells books.

Grammar (n): a semi-transparent layer of red ink applied to a manuscript.

Heroism (n): a disease contracted upon excessive exposure to destiny.

Inciting [event] (n): the first character death.

Jail (n): the result of online search history.

Kill (v): 1. to take out frustration on a character; 2. to display power and authority over one or more character(s), a common intimidation strategy.

Love (n): 1. a three-sided geometrical shape; 2. a one-sided geometrical shape.

Mentor (n): a disposable cutout figure commonly found in cereal boxes.

Notebook (n): a detachable extension of the brain.

One (n): the hardest page.

Publisher (n): an elusive deity associated with Traditionalism.

Query (v): 1. to beg; 2. to believe in Santa Claus.

Research (n): a pseudo-productive variant of procrastination.

Subplot (n): an excuse to make two incompatible characters kiss.

Typo (n): a bacteria most visible five minutes after publication.

Uninterrupted (adj): a spiritual state of being only achieved in the afterlife.

Verbosity (n): a description of weather or scenery.

Write (v): 1. to convert sleep deprivation into ink squiggles; 2. to cry.

X (n): a red symbol applied by editors to express hopelessness.

Yarn (n): a tool invented to lure cats off keyboards.

Zebra (n): a placeholder noun commonly used in alphabetical blog posts.

 

 

 

101 Lies Writers Tell

They won’t all apply to you, but I guarantee some of them will. (I thought it would be really hard to come up with 101 entries, but once I got the ball rolling…well, let’s just say the list didn’t take long.)


1. I don’t need to write this down.

2. No one will notice this plot hole.

3. I’ll remember that idea in the morning.

4. I can get through this chapter without coffee.

5. I’m a decent proofreader.

6. My friend’s a decent proofreader.

7. That was the last typo.

8. I can write while I watch.

9. Just a quick five-minute Twitter break.

10. No, I don’t actually have a crush on my character.

11. This rewrite should only take an hour or two.

12. I’ll save my snack for when I finish the chapter.

13. Yes, I take a break every hour.

14. That two-star review didn’t bother me.

15. I’m going to write every day this month.

16. I really didn’t enjoy writing the villain’s death scene.

17. Sales aren’t important to me.

18. Yes, you can be in my next book.

19. No, those aren’t tear stains on the page.

20. One red pen should be enough.

21. There’s no way I’ll lose this sticky note.

22. My second draft probably won’t need that much work.

23. I’m super flexible. Interrupt me anytime.

24. Of course I don’t get jealous of other authors’ success!

25. I don’t even pay attention to my follower count.

26. My debut is a bestseller. Didn’t you read my Twitter bio?

27. I’ll only need to print one copy.

28. This Sims character looks great on the cover.

29. I can skip the proof copy.

30. Decaf is fine.

31. Sure, you can read my first draft.

32. My characters don’t mean that much to me.

33. What sketchy Google searches?

34. Parties? Yeah, I can skip writing this weekend.

35. No, I’m not writing down that random couple’s conversation.

36. I’ve never researched assassination methods.

37. No, for real. I #amwriting.

38. I’m just wearing earphones for style. Feel free to talk to me.

39. It doesn’t bother me when crappy books become bestsellers.

40. I don’t daydream what my book would look like as a film.

41. My protagonist has nothing to do with me at all.

42. I value your opinion about what I should write next.

43. This chapter offends you? Let me get rid of that for you.

44. No writing snacks today.

45. My draft will be done by the end of the month, no sweat.

46. I’ve never cried with my protagonist.

47. All my Pinterest boards are public. I don’t keep secrets.

48. Your DM convinced me to buy your book.

49. My work space is always in Instagram condition.

50. I never struggle with self-doubt.

51. Microsoft Word fonts look great on book covers!

52. Sleep trumps writing.

53. I always evaluate writerly quotes before I share them.

54. The world really needs more vampire stories.

55. Shirtless, six-pack dude on the cover? A mark of quality literature for sure.

56. Shampoo commercial babe on the cover? A mark of quality literature for sure.

57. My fantasy book title needs the word ‘Chronicles’ in it somewhere.

58. Every person on earth must love my book or else.

59. I have to get each scene right on the first try.

60. No, I don’t leaf through books just to smell the pages.

61. Writing a book is easy. Anyone can do it.

62. Someone didn’t like my book. I guess I failed as an author.

63. My characters always obey me.

64. Writing is just a hobby. I don’t take it that seriously.

65. My characters must all be gorgeous or no one will like them.

66. Needs more prophecy.

67. Keep spamming your buy links. I’ll probably give in eventually.

68. You have a second cousin who also writes? Of course I’ll email him right away.

69. Anyone could be a bestseller if they just had more time to write.

70. No, I don’t collect rejection letters.

71. The fact that ‘erotica’ exists as a genre doesn’t make me gag.

72. Of course I always follow my own writing advice.

73. I only get on Youtube for research purposes.

74. You self-publish ten books a year? You must be so gifted.

75. No, I’ve never used Jelly Beans as motivation.

76. It’s safe to leave the house without a notebook.

77. It’s safe to leave the house without pens.

78. It’s safe to leave the house.

79. Talk out loud to my characters? Nope.

80. The thousands of writerly advice blog posts I see each day really shape the way I write.

81. That book cover you made with MS Paint looks great.

82. No, I wouldn’t rather live in my story world.

83. I don’t go to coffee shops. I guess I’m not the real deal.

84. I don’t use the latest Mac. I guess I’m not the real deal.

85. Yes, cat. You may sit on my laptop.

86. I regularly take days off.

87. Sure, I can leave this scene half finished. I won’t lose my train of thought.

88. My character’s eye color is always consistent in first drafts.

89. No, none of my character names have real meaning.

90. Needs more love triangle.

91. 99c is a fair price for all the work I put into this book.

92. I don’t need to write today.

93. Noise is fine.

94. I got my opening line right on the first try.

95. I got my opening line right on the second try.

96. I got my opening line right on the fiftieth try.

97. I’m satisfied with my opening line.

98. I read every single free ebook I download.

99. Romance based on physical attraction alone is healthy for readers, right?

100. I’ve never wanted to change my name to something more ‘authorish’.

101. It’s hard to make money as a writer? You’re the first person to warn me about that.

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There’s a confession booth in the back. Feel free to visit.

 

 

 

What If My Published Book Isn’t Good Enough?

I’m going to think out loud a bit here.

If you could sit down with an author you admire or enjoy reading and could only ask them one question, what would it be? I know what I would ask.

“What do you do when your first published book doesn’t match the quality of your second or third?”

It’s no secret that writers are constantly learning and improving their craft. Their voice develops, their skills are sharpened, and they find little by little what truly works for them.

I self-published my first novel, Little One, in the summer of 2015. It wasn’t the first novel I had written, but at the time it was the best, and I felt I was finally ready to take it all the way.

Now, a year and two months later, I’m eyeing potential release dates for my second book, Where The Woods Grow Wild. It’s not a sequel to Little One, nor does it have anything in common in terms of tone or content.

Not only that, but the closer I get to publishing Where The Woods Grow Wild, the more I feel Little One just isn’t that great. Besides a slew of technical problems during its first weeks of life, I’ve improved so much as a writer in the last year that I’ve come pretty close to unpublishing Little One for good. I don’t want it to misrepresent me.

I’m also ridiculously pessimistic.

On the flipside, I’m probably being too critical of myself. Little One isn’t bad. It’s accumulated nearly 1000 downloads in 12 months (granted, most of those are free grabs), and it averages 4.7 stars on Amazon and 4.45 on Goodreads (and that’s after Amazon obliterated most reviews by friends and family). I’m frequently humbled by the glowing feedback I receive.

And yet, I know Little One could have been better. A lot better. I also know Where The Woods Grow Wild will be better.

Part of me wants to unpublish Little One and treat Where The Woods Grow Wild like a debut novel. Gotta put my best foot forward, right? Another part of me knows I should be proud of Little One regardless of its flaws and move on. After all, everyone improves over time. I never expected Little One to be my masterpiece.

Have those of you with published work ever felt this way before? If so, what conclusions have you come to? Give a brother some pointers here.

10 More Incorrect Assumptions About Writers

This post is a somewhat snarky continuation of last month’s 10 Incorrect Assumptions About Writers article.

#11 Writers don’t actually work that much

Grab a notebook and a pencil and people admire your dedication. Crack open a laptop and everyone assumes you’re playing games. Granted, all the Netflix jokes we make don’t help our case, but still. We writers take our work pretty seriously.

I’ve had people watch me type away for a bit and then say something like, “So…is that work stuff, or are you just goofing off?” I know they’re probably joking, but how would it look if I walked up to a busy firefighter and said, “So…are you putting that out, or just toasting marshmallows?”

#12 Writers are always available for language-related favors

I think every writer in existence has experienced this at least once. Your classmates need a paper proofread, and it’s due in an hour, and you’re not busy so you can do it for free, right? Well…no. Not right. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind lending a hand (and I did all throughout college). I’ll be glad to look over your paper. If I can do it when it fits my schedule, and if it’s only a few pages, and if I don’t have paying work to finish first. Because, believe it or not, I do occasionally get paid to do just that. Wait in line.

#13 Writers need English and/or Creative Writing degrees

Did I take creative writing classes in college? Yes. Did I graduate with a degree in English? Yes. Did it revolutionize the way I write fiction? No. Most of what I’ve learned about writing has been through my own writing and reading. I know of writers who got all the degrees and drastically improved because of them, but degrees don’t grant you innate skill, nor do they guarantee success.

[Note: my classes, teachers, and studies were fantastic. I’m not degrading any of them. I did learn stuff about literature, grammar, history, etc (go to college, kids!). But I didn’t learn anything about creating a story from nothing and putting it into writing that I didn’t already know (or would come to know in the future) from experience and self-teaching.]

#14 Writers always stay indoors

We stay inside a lot because that’s where our work is, and we love our work. But that doesn’t mean we’ll burst into flames if we walk out the front door (well, most of us won’t). Writers love walks, nature, cities, fresh air, sunshine/rain as much as anyone else (Pokemon Go, anyone?). If anything we wish we could be out more, but, you know, laptops have a limited battery life.

#15 Writers lack social skills

Again, we joke about this a lot. But most of the time it’s just not true. A lot of writers are introverts, and a lot of introverts are shy (there is a difference, people), but we can still go out, smile, shake hands, meet people, converse, and interact with society when we want to. Maybe we just tend to want to a little less than others.

#16 Writers hate editing

Editing, the great evil torture process that stifles creativity and drags writers down into the mire of technicalities. Actually, there’s just as much creativity in rewrites and edits as there is in first draft writing. I know a lot of writers (myself included) who enjoy the second and third draft process just as much as the first draft. Now, proofreading? That’s a different story…

#17 Writers want to be just like famous authors

“Oh, you write fantasy? So you wanna be the next Tolkien/Rowling/Martin, I guess.”

No, actually, I don’t. Tolkien, Rowling, and Martin were/are talented, successful authors that a lot of people look up to. But Tolkien gets boring, Rowling spams plot holes, and Martin needs to get his moral compass checked for signs of life (my opinions, calm down).

My point is, I don’t want to be them, or even like them. I want to achieve what they achieved, yes, but in my own way, with my own voice, and my own stories.

#18 Writers disregard basic and routine activities

“You’re a writer, huh? Must be nice to work from home. You don’t have to get up early, shower, or follow meal schedules like the rest of us. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want.”

Bottom line: that’s a bunch of garbage. We work hard. Most of us have other jobs. We follow routines. We have self-respect and a sense of hygiene.

Writer does not mean slob.

#19 Writers need to work with major publishers

Would I love to have one of my books eventually published by one of the big names? Of course. Are my career as a writer and my love for storytelling defined by that factor? Absolutely not. Mainstream publishing houses have competition in the form of indie-publishers, self-publishing, etc. I don’t need a six-figure deal to be a good writer.

If anyone’s reading this that wants to offer me a six-figure deal, I graciously accept. 

#20 Writers thrive in coffee shops

This is true for some writers, but not for all. I’m jealous of the people who a.) have access to coffee shops nearby, and b.) look super sophisticated with their million dollar Apple devices while still getting chapters done by the refill.

I’m not that guy. For instance, I’ve been into Starbucks three times in my life. Once as part of a group. I didn’t order anything. The second time was in February in Chicago. I panicked and ordered a slushy. The third time, I tried to order coffee. Emphasis on tried. Turns out you need a degree in Latin just to get a napkin in that hipster nest.

Starbucks is the worst. That’s really all I’m getting at in this whole post.


Take this post with a grain of salt and a pinch of humor. If you’re guilty of making any of these assumptions, ultimate shame on you. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s almost 2:00 in the afternoon. Time for me to get dressed.