Practical tips to overcome the ickiness of self-promoting and progress your writing career
I get it. Some people are ok with talking about themselves. They could do it all day. They seem to thrive on it.
Then there are others, like you and I. We’d rather listen instead of speak. Self-promoting feels icky. It’s not really our thing.
You hate pushy salespeople. They invade your space without permission. They tell you what you should buy. Yet even if you need the thing they’re selling, there’s no way you’ll buy it from them. Or even hear them out. Your automatic response is to race away. Or slam the phone. You don’t want to be one of those people.
It’s much better to be recognized naturally. I mean, if your writing is good, people will notice. If your writing is great, editors will knock on your door. If your writing is brilliant, you’ll get invitations for interviews and book publishers begging you to write for them. Won’t they?
Maybe. Sometimes. And that is the problem. Will you risk your writing career to maybes and sometimes?
Where do you reckon your career will take you if you keep feeling icky about sales, let your self-doubts hold you back, and wait for people to notice you?
One of the primo, Number One “rules” for writers is write what you know.
Writing what you know is generally excellent advice for writers who are in the early stages of their careers. Knowing your setting — whether it’s geographical, professional, familial, is one less issue you’ll have to face when you’re still not yet completely comfortable with fiction’s basic craft elements — narrative, backstory, plot, dialogue, character.
What if you can’t — or don’t want to — write what you know?
Louise Harnby published a blog post that provides us with tips for writing about physical pain in fiction. I find this a very helpful post and decided to share it. Thank you, Louise!
Writing about pain is hard, but there’s no shame in that struggle; it’s difficult to articulate even when we’re experiencing it.
This post featured in Joel Friedlander’s
Self-Publishing: The Carnival of the Indies #85
‘Pain is […] the kind of subjective and poorly delineated experience that is difficult to express satisfactorily in language […] Indeed, pain shares some of the characteristics of target domains that have received considerable attention in the cognitive linguistic literature. Like LOVE, for example, it is private, subjective […] cannot be directly observed,’ says linguist Elena Semino.
When researching this article, I was surprised by how little has been written about the art of depicting physical pain in fiction. And, yet, the act of hurting is prevalent in most genres; it deserves as much attention as emotional distress.
Jane Friedman provides us with information on how to write a novel synopsis. Thank you for this very educational post, Jane!
It’s probably the single most despised document you might be asked to prepare: the synopsis.
The synopsis is sometimes necessary because an agent or publisher wants to see, from beginning to end, what happens in your story. Thus, the synopsis must convey a book’s entire narrative arc. It shows what happens and who changes, and it has to reveal the ending. Synopses may be required when you first query your work, or you may be asked for it later.
Don’t confuse the synopsis with sales copy, or the kind of marketing description that might appear on your back cover or in an Amazon description. You’re not writing a punchy piece for readers that builds excitement. It’s not an editorial about your book. Instead, it’s an industry document that helps an agent or editor quickly assess your story’s appeal and if it’s worth them reading the entire manuscript.
Charles Yallowitz, over at ‘Legends of Windemere’ published a blog post about cliffhangers in a series. Thank you very much for your great post, Charles.
This came up in conversation and I thought about while coming to the end of War of Nytefall: Eradication. When writing a series, you tend to have 3 types of books.
The opener, which introduces at least some characters, begins world building, and may hint at the main plot.
The finale, which closes up all or most of the plot lines.
Everything in the middle, which I tend to call ‘Bridge Books’. They have their own internal adventure while carrying what was established in the previous books into the next one. You don’t always bring all of the subplots and characters through a bridge book, but you do enough that the main plot can continue.
Charles Yallowitz of the ‘Legends Of Windermere’ blog provides us with an excellent blog post posing the question if we should know the ending of our book. Thanks a lot, Charles!
I’m pretty sure a lot of people are going to disagree with this sentiment. The path of the pantser if fairly common. Not the way I do things, but I’ve run into many who simply fly into a story to see where it goes. There could be an ending in mind or it could just be a beginning or middle that they have. One thing I can be sure of is that it differs from person to person. Then again, I’m a severe plotter, so I shouldn’t speak as if I understand the other side of the pasture.
While I don’t come up with my endings first, I do like to have them in mind before I start writing. This helps me keep things on track and avoid running the story into a brick wall or minefield. Some would say that the downside is that your writing becomes too linear and dull because you remove the chaos of creation. I can see how you can come to that conclusion, but deciding on the ending doesn’t mean you know how you’re going to get there. Most of my books had the finale planned out, but I only had a general idea of how to get there. That goes for chapter and book endings. Probably why I had the outlines and still had that excitement of not really knowing what will happen.
Don Massenzio blogged about his personal experience with creating Audio Books in different blog posts. I thought it would be a good idea to publish all his posts together here on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’. Thank you for sharing your Audio Book creation adventure, Don!
Life has become extremely hectic during the past decades. With the current development of technology, which, by the way, can be extremely helpful, in particular to us writers, it can as well be an enormous distraction. I caught myself so many times surfing through the internet, checking this or that social media account before writing, that, at the end of the day I had updated my accounts but haven’t written one single word.
According to scientists, the current average human attention span is around 8 seconds, which means, we are in fact, almost as low as a goldfish.
I was reading myself through psychological essays, meditation websites and a few other interesting pages for support on how to focus until I finally decided I needed my list of tips and tricks.
I am a writer, and besides being distracted by household things, health issues, cat stuff and social media, I love spending time outside… which, I finally realized, was one of the ways to focus on writing.
1. Spend time outside
Spend time outside. Maybe by going for a nice walk or enjoying the sunshine or taking a swim and thinking about your story, it will give you ideas you need to write down as soon as your back on your computer.
2. Work offline
Work offline. It will help you not to go on ‘checking’ on social media, and you can concentrate on your writing.
3. To-Do lists
Make two to-do lists. One for your regular day-by-day things and one for writing (and blogging). Make sure you don’t mix them up, but you need to block some time on your daily to-do list to keep some time for your writing.
4. Work spot
Look for your own silent work spot. Make sure you have a clean desk that doesn’t distract you and start your work. Enjoy and embrace the silence and, if necessary, keep the door closed.
Help to focus on your work by listening to music you like. It will also help you to tune out the background noise that might distract you from your writing goal.
6. Big and small goals
Break down big goals into smaller ones. They’re easier to reach, and if you feel you are prepared and ready for the next goal, after a break you still can sit down and start to work on your next goal.
Breaks! Allow yourself breaks in between your goals. Nothing is as relaxing as a break. It will refresh and reboot your brain. Just don’t forget to close the door again after you return to work.
Caffeine helps to support your focus. It will wake you up, and while enjoying the warm, dark and spicy liquid in your cup your head is already on its way to your story. (You might ask, why does the coffee only make number eight? Well, I figure since we writers usually start our day with coffee, oral or by injection, I thought it doesn’t need to top this list.)
9. A Good Night’s Sleep
Live a healthy life with plenty of sleep. From what I read over the past few hours, many people are satisfied with only a few hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately being tired and confused in the morning after a lack of sleep, this might interfere with your ability to focus. Make sure you got plenty of sleep, with an average of 7 – 8 hours a night.
10. Keep your moods out
Keep work at work, frustration, and anger outside your work spot. Many writers do have a day job and don’t live off writing. To keep the focus on what you like to do, make sure you are relaxed and calm and left work at the office (or wherever) and blend out anger and frustration. It interferes with your writing.
Extra-tip: Certain food types might support the ability to focus. I figure to find out if that’s helpful, you will need to try: Blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.
I’ve said in previous posts that one of the most important parts of concluding a series is creating closure. You need to bring things to an end, which isn’t as easy as some people think. In fact, one of the reasons it can be so tough is because you have a variety of closure types to choose from. It depends a lot on what you’re going for, but even planning doesn’t alleviate all the pressure. So, what are the types?
Classic Good Ending– All of the good guys get what they wanted and all of the bad guys got what they deserved. It’s the oldest type of closure in the book. Nothing messy and no risk of people feeling it’s a downer. Though, you might get called out for being weak and unoriginal.
Classic Bad Ending– I’m not sure how long it took for someone…