7 Things Confident Writers Don’t Do

From Kristan Lamb’s Blog: 7 Things Confident Writers Don’t Do.

7 Things Confident Writers Don’t Do

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One of the reasons I encourage writers to blog and to read blogs is that you will find inspiration all around you. A dear friend of mine, Steve Tobak, has a MASSIVE blog following and is the business blogger for CBS, Fox Business and Inc.

I love reading his posts about entrepreneurs because so much applies to authors (we are entrepreneurs of a different sort, but still entrepreneurs). The other day, he had a post called 7 Things Confident Leaders Don’t Do, and I am going to take the liberty of retooling this for writers.

In a world full of wanna-be best-sellers, confident writers don’t:

1. Do What Everyone Else is Doing

Find your own voice and tell your own story. Don’t write to the market. Find the publishing path that works for you. If self-publishing works for you, your budget and your personality, great. The stigma is fading, so be bold. If you want creative control and yearn to make the kind of living you see other indies making, go for it!

But, if you really want to go traditional, then feel good about that choice. Just make sure you have a great agent or lawyer (like Susan Spann) who can negotiate a contract that is favorable to you and your goals.

2. Worry About Weakness

Writers all suffer from an odd mix of narcissism and deep-seated insecurity. We have to have a big enough ego to believe that we have a story others will want to pay money to read, yet at the same time we worry the world will hate it and throw digital tomatoes at us.

Acknowledge weakness. Work to strengthen it, but don’t lose sleep over it. I see a lot of writers who are so terrified of failing, it paralyzes forward momentum. They edit the same book for six years trying to make it perfect instead of just shipping and moving on to the next book.

They bank everything on one book and spend hours looking at sales and reviews instead of just doing the one thing that will help them be successful…writing MORE books!

3. Waste a Lot of Time

If we want to have what no one else has, we can’t do what everyone else does. When others are going to the mall, watching television or goofing off playing Farmville, we need to be working. Real artists have a vision and go after that vision with focused intensity.

4. Try to Be Successful

Successful writers write. They know that success in this business rarely comes with one book. John Locke didn’t sell a million books in six months with ONE book. He did it with 12. I see too many writers publish one book and then beat the hell out of all of us spamming about their books. In trying to be successful, they do a lot of dumb moves that common sense would dictate is a bad idea.

Yesterday, I was on Twitter when I saw this:

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I don’t know this writer and have never read his books, yet it didn’t stop him from trying to use MY NAME to sell books. On what planet is this a good idea? When writers TRY to be successful, they listen to dumb marketing advice and spend more time selling instead of writing.

5. Breathe Their Own Fumes

Be open to criticism. Surrounding ourselves with yes-men is dangerous and keeps us from growing. That’s one of the reasons I ask for thoughts and opinions at the end of my posts (other than I do LOVE hearing from you). I never mind disagreement so long as it’s respectful. I can’t grow if I don’t know what needs to come up higher.

When I wrote my short story Dandelion I sent it to people I knew would be brutal. All of them loved the story, but most saw things I didn’t. The changes took a good story to a fantastic story that I am very proud of. But I am human. I wanted a fluffy kitten hug of “Kristen, all your words are GOLD!” yet, I didn’t. The problems they pointed out were dead on, and I was able to make the right changes.

Too many new writers are publishing books without going to people who will give them honesty. The problem is that instead of getting the rough truth in private, they get the brutal truth PUBLICLY and PERMANENTLY in one and two-star reviews from ticked off readers.

6. Fear Competition

Competition is just part of what we do. Good for us that books are not so cost-prohibitive that people can’t buy more than one. Thing is, there will always be someone who is a better writer than we are. Learn from them. I hear a lot of new writers (and I was once guilty, too) groan about certain best-sellers and tear down the writer and the book. Instead, read it. Try to see why that book resonated and broke out.

7. Try to Be What They’re Not

Most writers aren’t doing this “writing thing” until our dream job in sales comes our way. A lot of the reason that so much writer marketing is annoying and lame is artists are trying to be “power marketers.”

Less marketing and more writing.

Talk to people and build community and leave the mega-marketing to Madison Avenue. WANA methods don’t try to change your personality, so you have far greater odds of success because people will feel your social media activities are authentic.

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You’re Really Not All That Special

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I have a special ring tone I’ve set up on my phone just for agent responses. I used to get so excited when it chimed. Now I cringe; time to read the latest rejection letter. Authors spend a lot of time thinking about rejection (unless you’re the Stephanie Meyer instant success type.)  Why, you ask, would one ponder such a joyless thought? Because we are artists. Honestly, it took a very long time just to be able to call myself that. For years I thought that just because I enjoyed creating art didn’t really make me an artist. Well, it does and it doesn’t. Let me explain.

The sad fact, especially today, is that anyone can do what you do. There are apps that can teach you how to sing, you tube videos that teach you how to paint and a wealth of information online about how to be a good writer. Heck, I learned to play the guitar off of YouTube and now I’m in a band!

It’s kind of a defeating if you think about it but don’t let this put a dimmer on your disco just yet. Here’s what DOES set you apart from the rest: you’re level of passion for whatever you do. This is the reason why not everyone excels when they write, paint, sing or play even though they are capable – they can, they just don’t love it enough to do it. You have to be IN LOVE with your art form. It’s those who take the time to hone their craft and see it to maturity that become the memorable ones of their time.

So, back to rejection. What does this have to do with you being an artist? You’ll never except that you are one until you learn to be rejected. Sounds upside down right? The truth is, until you are able to put yourself out there and accept that not everyone will love what you love and that not everyone will understand what you create then you will never mature as an artist. Isn’t that what makes things memorable anyway? Not everyone loves my spouse the way I do but that doesn’t devalue our passion.

So, how do you become a true reject/artist? You show your stuff. That’s right, if you write send out a query, if you paint, set up a gallery showing, if you sing, write someone a song. I know your toes are curling right now. What if they don’t like it?  What if they hate it!? Then they don’t understand it. They don’t understand the joy it brings you to create and that’s okay. Someone out there does. Oh good gosh, please tell me someone out there does!

Hermit the Blogger

If you were my children I could be charged with neglect. I have neither posted nor commented for nigh on a month and a half. Does it help to know that I was thinking about you while I was neglecting you? While excuses are like certain anatomical orifices I refuse to mention, like you, I have a good one for my abusive behavior. The last month and a half of my life has gone like this: Neglectful Blogger puts house on market by owner not really expecting any results; Careless Poster finds buyer in first week of posting house in newspaper; Spurning Writer FREAKS OUT BECAUSE SHE HAS TO PACK 11 YEARS WORTH OF ACCUMULATED NONSENSE QUICKLY; Shirking Author sells practically everything she owns and puts a bid on a new house; 30-Something Procrastinating Penmen moves back in with her momma (along with 3 children, husband, Great Dane, and deaf and blind Cocker Spaniel who has suddenly developed loss of bladder control.) But this is temporary, right? So I can handle this; Trifling Typist’s house deal falls through (a little appraisal snafu no fault of the buyer. These things happen)….duh, duh, duh.

So now do you forgive me? There are much sadder stories out there so I’m not really feeling too sorry for myself but the truth is, it’s made it difficult to find time to blog. Thanks to some tumultuous and timely weather, however, I’ve been able to write again and it has been like salve to my soul!

So this is what I want to know: what has writing done for you? It could be good. It could be bad. It could be both. Tell me.

Writing has been therapeutic, stressful, renewing, and revealing for me. It has changed me some. I didn’t see it at first or maybe I didn’t want to admit it but now I like being alone. I look for a quiet room and can’t wait for a day off or even a few hours off….to write. It’s not always so good. I think I’d be perfectly content somewhere with no other neighbors in sight, tucked away in the woods (perfect description of the house that fell through. Sigh.) I’ve turned into Hermit the Blogger.

Writing has done some wonderful and not so wonderful things to me.

Writing has done some wonderful and not so wonderful things to me.

I suppose it’s not a horrid thing but I’m feeling the disconnect and so I’m putting myself out there precisely to combat the evolution or I may turn green like the character in my latest YA novel. So, my ever supportive husband is planning a little dinner party with some strangers – friends of friends. He plans on bribing them with free food and asking them to come and allow me to pitch my novels to them in preparation for a conference I’ll be attending in April. He’s so clever.

What about you? Are you becoming a recluse and turning green? Are you discovering new aspects of yourself? Are you building thick layers and titanium determination?