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Encouraging Words

2489 Views 37 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  AnitaDobs
Things haven't been going so well as far as writing and publishing is concerned. So, I am starting this thread in the hopes of hearing a little encouragement, not just myself but for everyone. Everyone could use a few kind words every now and then, right? So, why keep writing? Why keep publishing? Maybe you can tell me what helps keeps your spirits up. And moments that you thought you'd never write again.
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You're only 20 years old. I've been getting kicked in the teeth by this biz for almost that long! Revel in the pain...keep learning and growing and trying to improve. Listen to everyone but trust your instincts.  Keep at it.
I read a favorite book. That usually makes me try harder. Pick your favorite flavor of fiction, find an award for it, and work through the list of nominees and awardees. Seeing the best a genre offers usually inspires me to write.

I create playlists that are up tempo. Music is great for switching gears, and I can waste hours building a good playlist.

I also exercise and cut out sugar, caffeine and other stimulants. There's health benefits, but the biggest bit is no more sugar crashes. I was a caffeine fiend, and suffered from moods and insomnia. When I started eating clean and exercising, I slept better and became more productive.

If none of that works, it's time to take a vacation. :)

Oh, and "be awesome."

My individual books for sale are actually the smallest part of my writing.  I have a serial writing website where members pay a flat fee and they get to read the rawest, freshest stuff I put out there and ... critique it.  EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER THREE TIMES A WEEK.  No editing, stream of consciousness writing, flying by the seat of my pants, creating massive length works. 

Here's the thing about being told your writing sucks (or is great): you cannot take either at face value.

I look for patterns in comments to see if there's a problem with the story or if its an individual's taste that is affecting their view of it (quite valid, but not useful for me in strengthening a story). By doing so I've learned a ton.  Have some comments stung?  Heck ya!  Did they make me feel like I didn't know the best way for the story to go?  Yes!  Were they right?  Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

But I've twice rewritten books based on this critique and those books are a thousand percent better.  And by interacting with the readers, asking them WHY did you hate (or love) something, I was able to fix things.  So when you see those lower star reviews or have a critique from anyone, listen to what they're saying objectively.  They may not be right.  Then again, they might be.  But don't stop writing because of it!  WRITE MORE.  Keep what they said in mind, if after seeing patterns of complaints you can ascertain there's a real problem, and fix it in the next book.

Writing is a craft as much as an art.  You do get better at it with every work you write.  And one more thing, you don't just have one book in you that you need to guard like a dragon guards a horde of treasure.  You are a treasure-making dragon.  So write, write and write some more.
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My first book is my worst, without a doubt. But I keep improving. My readers who love my first book can't wait for new ones to come out.

I also tell myself that my next book, or my next series, will be a huge hit.  ;D
nikkarina said:
So, why keep writing? Why keep publishing? Maybe you can tell me what helps keeps your spirits up. And moments that you thought you'd never write again.
Writing is an outlet for me. I've always enjoyed telling stories, but there's not always someone around who has the time and patience to listen, so I write my stories down, just to have something tangible. My first novel had been pretty much ready for a decade, before I published it last year.

The people who can be bothered to read my work are glad they did, and encourage me to write more books. Not that I need their encouragement, as I would write my stories even if I wouldn't be able to publish them, just to have them in material form, instead of telling them to myself in my head. Still, I enjoy receiving accolades from reviewers and beta readers.

My sales are not impressive, but I'm not that interested in bestsellers and being a flavour of the week. I'm in the storytelling game for the long haul. By all accounts, my characters remain present in the minds of my readers after they close the books, which is exactly what I wanted. Before I published the Amsterdam Assassin Series, people would see me writing and ask me what I wrote about. Now, I can just send them a link to my blog, from where they can sample or buy my books. So, I guess I will keep publishing my books, and writing more books.

I know there are 350,000 books published annually, and getting noticed is hard, so it might take until the third or fourth book is published before my sales go into the triple digits, but I honestly don't care too much about that aspect of being a writer. I'd be doing this anyway. My only expense is hiring a graphic artist to make the covers, since I suck at that. And I found a student who can make my covers look reasonably professional without breaking the bank.

Do I ever have moments that I'd quit? I've had slumps and I found I became harder to live with when I stopped writing, for whatever reason. So quitting isn't an option if I want to stay reasonably sane. Or, at least, not get any weirder than I'm now. And writing also gives me excuses to indulge in research, which is great fun. At least, if you enjoy looking at corpses getting eviscerated, destroying a leather punching bag with a Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, following a tameshigiri seminar to learn how to decapitate a body in one cut of a Japanese sword, or slaughtering a pig with a tactical folding knife to check if it can really handle the abuse of a brutal killing.

So, I guess I'd be writing and publishing far into the foreseeable future. And I hope you join me.
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Whenever I'm having a bad day I look back to my very first month. I was happy to get even one sale back then. It meant someone was actually reading something I'd written. Wow, what a feeling. I also think back to the very first five star review or fan mail or whatever it is that made my day back then. I don't ever want to lose that feeling because every five star review should mean as much as the first and every message from a reader should be as important as last. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. Hey, I'm a writer, it's what I do!  ;)
When I'm in a slump with the whole publishing idea, I do math to cheer me up.  Why should I write another word when the ones I have already written go no where?  Money!  If I sell one book a day for the rest of my life to the statistical demographic average lifespan of 78.  That gives me 43 years or 15,695 days/sales.  At $3.50 in royalties per book that's $54,932.  That's not bad for the 400 hours ($137/hour) of work that it takes me to produce a novel.

I love creative math!!! ;D
::raises her glass::

My hard knocks include being rejected from a Twilight fan fiction site as not writing fiction well enough while I was making 4 figures a month on my non-fiction writing. I licked that wound for almost a year. Then realized the mods were right and I WAS changing POV like an awesome schizophrenic narrator, only it wasn't on purpose. I had no idea what head hopping even was until I was rejected. Twice.

Another time I almost quit the fiction writing gig is after I allowed my newbie enthusiasm to give months of full time work to a person who was only out to use me until I started calling in her empty promises. The hardest part to moving on was this person STILL to this day is a "big name" in the indie world while still being a wolf in sheep's clothing. Once I met a few others who had a similar run in with this author, and we formed our own author support group, it got better. In fact, I'm no longer even angry with this person, or even myself anymore, because what I DID learn from that time period was worth something and I still use those lessons today.

In the end, I keep going by knowing this isn't all that I am.

I wrote a book because I challenged myself to do so. Now, I'm working diligently on conquering app development. Whether it's non-fiction, marketing copy, or a fiction piece, I'm a talker and a thinker so I type. That's all. I have 6 different WIPs at the moment. Everything I've ever written that has received a critical response also has a "OMG I loved this!" response. It takes time to get to that "ok, I'm not Pulitzer Prize material, but I also made some people happy, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing." And realllly, I've only come to terms with my one fiction book as being what it is after my latest free run and pouring in of reviews.

I struggle sometimes here because I can come off as not respectful of those here making a living at this. I'm not. My "paying" job is in ebook marketing and uses my tech skills and creative side for marketing events. My "real" job, the one that I will drop everything for is as a mother and a Navy wife, because when the sh*t hits the fan there, there isn't anyone else to pick up and keep moving because my husband is not in control of his time. My fiction writing is something I enjoy doing that happens to also make money. Not a great deal, but enough to support itself and let me buy a new toy or two. There are times in many of my writing communities where I privately struggle with people who talk about being a parent to their pet, and I'm sure times when my own "I'm mommy to a toddler" anecdotes grate on their nerves.  

It's a diverse community here, and it's hard to mix authors with different life experiences and different situations in a forum and not have some tempers flare and feelings hurt. I've been frustrated enough by threads and posts that I've had to just walk away for weeks at a time. BUT, anytime I've needed to know something, this is the only place in the two years I've worked on self-publishing, that has always had answers, even when they were ones I didn't like. Other places, you ask, and if you aren't in the clique, you are just ignored. Yes, there are cliques here too, especially when posts devolve into odd inside jokes, or give the appearance of such though the posters don't mean it that way, but the value here on Kindle boards is worth more than the aggravations that sometimes come.

Hang in there, and stick around. In no time, you will be part of the family. :)

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The way I feel about my writing matches whatever mood I'm in that day. Bad day at work? I'm a horrible writer who will never make it. Wonderful Day? I am the BEST author ever (haha jk). Sometimes a down day can lead me to write as an escape from the drab of my life. I think probably the best encouragement I ever received was in college...Well really there are two seperate incidents. One, my freshmen English class we had to write an abundance of five paragraph essays. I turned in my first paper with a less-than-enthusiastic atitude. I wasn't expecting a stellar grade because I honestly hadn't felt like I'd put in my best effort. But to my total surprise the next class rolls around and the professor read my paper to the class as an example of what he felt was a strong, well-written effort. TOTAL SHOCK! My sophomore english class was a lot of reading and responding. I liked this type of writing better than essays, but as times, I'll admit, I bsed my way through a response. I had a hard time getting into one of the short stories we were supposed to respond but managed what I felt was a mediocre response. A couple of days after we turned in our responses, the professor asked me if I would mind if she put a quote from my paper on the board. I was in TOTAL SHOCK again. Both professors told me I should switch my major from education to english. I like to think about those times when I'm feeling less than impressed with my was incredibly helpful after a comment about my writing by a total stranger had me a bit depressed.
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I was having a bit of a wobble about 2 hours ago, I posted a thread on here regarding horror/chiller writers. The guys who replied made me feel a whole lot better, gave me some great advice and I sold a couple of books! Now that is what I call a turnaround.
Elizabeth Ann West said:
In the end, I keep going by knowing this isn't all that I am.
What kind of attitude is THAT? Slacker. You should feel like a steaming pile of quivering mouse poo when someone says something bad about your writing, and like Superman flying over skyscrapers when you get a compliment. It's in your writer' contract, article 2.3 paragraph b.
vrabinec said:
What kind of attitude is THAT? Slacker. You should feel like a steaming pile of quivering mouse poo when someone says something bad about your writing, and like Superman flying over skyscrapers when you get a compliment. It's in your writer' contract, article 2.3 paragraph b.
Man, I'm in breach of contract! :-\

I know, I will blog about it about how unfair the contract was to begin with and get a mass of people all on MY side so the other side MUST cave to my demands, no matter what was in writing before.

If it makes you feel ANY BETTER I'm reading James Scott Bell's Fiction Attack (I enjoy his stuff, it appeals to my analytic side of writing) and I've hand written the 10 Commandments. PFFFt to you, my attitude gives me Commandment # 9 which is Rhino Skin. Annnnnd I started Commandment #1 today which is about weekly word counts. I'm going with 20,000 as my mountain to climb. As of this morning, already got 2500 done.
Elizabeth Ann West said:
My hard knocks include being rejected from a Twilight fan fiction site...
See, here I would consider that a Badge of Honor. Heck, you could use it as a marketing gimmick.

This book was rejected by over 10,000 Twilight fans. If you hate Twilight, you will love this book!
If you love what you're writing, keep going...others will love it too. And no matter how good you are, some people won't like it (okay, that's life, happened to better writers than me, etc.), and many won't even give it a chance (their loss).

As far as criticism, use it to get better, ignore it, or turn it around. I (and an artist partner) once had a comic strip turned down by one of the major synidcates because it was "too much like Calvin and Hobbes." Took that as a wonderful compliment!
I'm in the same boat, which brings to mind JAWS. "You're going to need a bigger boat." In my case, I'm going to get more involved in the design aspects of my debut novel, beginning with the book layout. I'm going to need a bigger screen . . .
I published the first book I had written eons ago on CreateSpace yesterday. I had forgotten to change it from the "block" style paragraph way back when (blech...). I skimmed through it and was quite amazed at how much my writing has changed in a year. Back then, I went wild with adverb overuse, and there was very little in the way of white space. Everything, and I do mean -everything- was described in scenes. It left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Dialogue was ok for the most part, but lacking that ping of ingenuity or wit that I invoke now. I am not sure if this is because I have written over twenty books (only some of which are full-fledged novels) or because of the additional books I have read.

No bad reviews for that book, but it was the only one for that pen name (I have a few more I take more seriously). It made a few sales, nothing earth-shattering, and if anything taught me that writing styles change like the wind. I wonder what my writing style will be next year when I have ten more novels to my name...for better or worse? Is it possible to actually become a less refined writer over time?
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holly w. said:
Meanwhile, another prof was gushing about my clever writing style and super excited for me, encouraging me to do post graduate work at an Ivy League University. I think they used to fight about me in the coffee room. :)
You really should go back and find that teacher and tell them about your success, he/she would be totally stoked.
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