1) Write from love. You have something to say that you think will benefit others, even if that benefit is only providing a dose of healthy escape from the hardships of the world. Make your novel a love letter.
2) No one else can convict you of a being a bum. That is a right, privilege, and responsibility for you alone. A non-writer cannot understand the pangs of the writer, and no one has the right to accuse you of being lazy or lax in your creative endeavors. Only you know the levels of your diligence, self-restraint, and productivity. Practice all three so that you can be assured of your own work ethic, regardless of the opinions of others.
3) Real writing is editing; pumping stuff onto the page is pre-writing. Whether you self-publish or “get published”, keep this frame of mind. That way, when you are working on your 7th draft of that chapter that your first typed so easily, you can be assured that what you are doing on the revision is your actual job. If you want to get paid, you do your job.
4) Good editing takes time. Nobody wants to believe this, and you still wish it weren’t true. Think, however, of musicians. A single false note can soil a song, and your misuse of an adverb or unnecessary clause is just as sour to the eyes as the sound of the wrong note to the ears. Play the keys until the right words ring true. Your readers will thank you for it, and you’ll feel you did #3 well and can be re-assured on #2.
5) If you don’t love writing, do the world a favor, stop. This is two-pronged. First, if your dabbling in this profession/hobby for a few bucks, always remember that the world gets enough mindless, filtered, unnecessary drivel. If you want to make some cash by adding to it, please help save culture and refrain. If you continue, you will likely fail in making the money you seek anyway, and you will cost the human collective in terms of wasted hours and reduced intelligence. Second, if you have committed to this whole writing gig, be willing to step away when you need to. When you get angry at the process, when you can’t re-read that last paragraph for the hundredth time, or when you cannot abide the idea of re-writing the closing lines of chapter 7, don’t do it. Yet. Walk away. Take a breather. Re-assess. Read something that delights you. Remind yourself why writing is wonderful. Refresh. Renew. Then get back to work.
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