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Monday, November 29, 2010

So you want? (#pubtips)

You may have seen the video called "So You Want to Write a Novel" that has been making the rounds. It is funny-- I've pasted it below if you haven't seen it. And it's easy to laugh at this guy, the imaginary wannabe writer with his nonsensical requests (Do you want to be a ghostwriter? I'm not a very good speller.) To me what's most telling about this person is his notion that writing is easy. It's easy to laugh at this.

And yet, and yet. I worry about this stuff, because I see a lot on the web that sort of divides the reasonable writer with reasonable goals from the idiots, and whattayaknow, the writer making the post is always on the side of reasonable. I'd like to throw out a few of my own pointers for writers:

You don't have to tamp down your expectations. I hear this all the time: don't expect to be a bestseller. Don't expect to make a lot of money. Don't expect that you'll get any reward from writing other than the satisfaction of a job well done. Actually, I'd back off the expectation of satisfaction as well.

Jeez, guys-- what kind of business people are we if we blithely expect to fail? This is terrible advice. I get that we want to keep writers from having unrealistic expectations, but I guarantee you that expecting failure guarantees it. Expecting no money guarantees it. Expecting no readers guarantees it.

Write your ass off. Finish the work. Make it awesome. Sell it. Do as much marketing as you can, as though you were opening a restaurant and you'll starve if it doesn't go. Expect big things. Don't be a jerk, and keep writing your ass off.

I've been writing professionally for about 17 years. In every single project I simultaneously carry two thoughts: this is genius and this is garbage. The first is what keeps you going, because guess what, no one else will be your advocate. No one else has to. Even your agent has other clients. You-- only you-- are the one to believe in you. You have to believe in you more than anyone else. The second thought (this is garbage) keeps you working your ass off.

Funny video, though.

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