January 8, 2019
Whether embarking on a new book project, seeking an agent or publisher, or learning more about how to market your work, we’re with you all the way.
As 2019 gets underway, many of us find ourselves reflecting on what we’ve accomplished over the past year as well as those activities we wish to spend more time doing. It’s why so many of us take the time ahead of the new year to make resolutions for the future.
Indeed, according to the American Medical Association, approximately 40% to 50% of Americans make one or more New Year’s resolutions each year, be it a commitment to lose weight, exercise more often, quit smoking, or change jobs. Yet according to a University of Scranton study, only 8% of people ever realize these goals.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ― Neil Gaiman
Writers understand the notion of self-discipline well. Whether you’re selecting a time to write each day, establishing a writers’ room or other creative space, or setting a specific numberof words you promise to write each day, self-discipline is essential to any creative endeavor. As the award-winning science fiction writer Octavia Butler once noted, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”
Some writers are inherently disciplined. They revel in spending time alone reading or contemplating new ideas and find themselves rushing to the computer as soon as they wake up. The process itself is all they need to keep them focused and writing. Others find committing to a daily writing process far more difficult—particularly if they work a full-time job or have other daily obligations that must be met.
“It took me years to learn to sit at my desk for more than two minutes at a time, to put up with the solitude and the terror of failure, and the godawful silence and the white paper. And now that I can take it . . . now that I can finally do it . . . I’m really raring to go,” former AG president Erica Jong once wrote.
For other writers, finding the time to write is less of a concern as is making the commitment to actively market one’s work, which requires both a great deal of self-confidence and the ability to handle rejection. Consider the words of Isaac Asimov, who published more than 500 works: “You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”
And YA novelist Beth Revis has this to offer, “I wrote a book. It sucked. I wrote nine more books. They sucked, too. Meanwhile, I read every single thing I could find on publishing and writing, went to conferences, joined professional organizations, hooked up with fellow writers in critique groups, and didn’t give up. Then I wrote one more book.”
So what are your writing resolutions for 2019? What writers do you turn to for inspiration not only during the writing process, but in making sense of the writing professional itself? We would love to hear both about your struggles and your successes and the promises you make to yourself for the new year.
If one of your resolutions is to make more of an effort to market your work, you may wish to register for The Age of the Storyteller, an eight-session online course to teach writers how to generate effective publicity to increase book sales and garner interest from editors, agents, publishers and content providers. In collaboration with publishing consultant Lisa Weinert, the Authors Guild Foundation is offering this course at no charge. Authors Guild members who register for the course also get exclusive access to weekly Q&A sessions with Lisa via the online Authors Guild Members Community, where you can ask specific questions about your own marketing efforts.
And if you still need more inspiration, below is some advice from one of the world’s greatest authors:
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’…. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” ― Maya Angelou