The secret is to keep on writing!
I always wanted to be a writer.
From my earliest days, I felt the inexplicable pull to tell a story, craft a scene, leave a reader wanting to know what would happen next.
With a family to support, I put my life as an author on hold. However, I knew that nothing would block the path to my dream: to be a full-time writer in control of my career and destiny.
I had a late start, becoming a published writer at the age of forty six. Since then, I’ve published 50+ works, including The War of the Roses, which became the nomenclature of divorce worldwide. The film was a box-office hit.
Having been in the creative field for nearly half a century, I have seen the various incarnations of the publishing industry. Self-publishing was my way of taking back control of my own destiny.
Folks often tell me that I’m the oldest working writer they know. The truth is: I don’t know how to stop. I work on novels, articles, blog posts, and maintain contact with fans from around the world every single day. I hope my insights and optimism inspire you to persevere through your struggle, and continue your writer’s journey.
Here are 10 rules I’ve lived by in the over 50 years that I have been a published writer:
1. Do not overanalyze
You can plan something to death without ever getting anything done. Keep moving and don’t look back too often. It is boring to constantly look back. The future is much more exciting.
2. Never take rejection of your work to heart
Rejection is an inevitable part of any dream you pursue. I’ve been told ‘no’ many times, but never took the reply seriously. It may be impractical, unwise, foolish, or even pure madness, but if you truly believe in yourself, your talent, your ideas, your calling, your personal mission, why not, as Lewis Carroll wrote, “go on until the end, and then stop?”
My first novel wasn’t published until I was 46 years old.
Ignore insults and negative, unproductive feedback. In today’s age, where everything is gone with the flicker of a screen, be happy that your work is garnering attention. Make sure your name is spelled right.
3. Mind your morning rituals
I wake up at 5 am every day and write until 10 am, after which I read the news from various sources. It’s important to stay informed about the news and what’s happening in the world around you.
Inspiration and enlightenment come from current events. Gaining a new perspective never hurt anyone. The truth is, most times, stranger than fiction.
4. Write at least 100 pages before you decide to scrap a novel
Don’t be so quick to toss your work onto the trash heap. Get to know your characters and story, but also know when to start anew.
5. Don’t be afraid of change
Embrace change while staying true to yourself. When digital publishing was in its infancy, few people believed in its power to revolutionize the way people read. My disagreement was considered crazy, but I was determined to achieve independence as an author, and I made it happen for myself.
6. Seize every opportunity you can
I could never have predicted that my first novel would be published the way it was. I was running a PR agency at the time, when a client walked through my door, asking if I could promote his book. I decided to take a risk and said that I would promote his book for free if he published my manuscript. To my utter delight, he agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.
7. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur as well
People who join the self-publishing fray as individual authors have to learn to think of themselves as being in business for themselves, and pursue promotion and growth strategies, as with any other business venture.
8. Never let anyone else control your destiny
Keeping my authorial name alive involves some pretty heavy lifting, investment and optimism, but it’s 100% worth it.
9. Stand up for your beliefs and take action
Don’t be afraid to be the first one. I fought to keep open a library in Wyoming that I knew would benefit generations to come. I was also a pioneer of a short story contest, launching the Jackson Hole Writers’ Conference.
10. Write what you want and never repeat yourself
Typically, some plots and genres will be easier for you to write than others. Write what you want, but avoid falling into the trap of writing the same book over and over. It would bore you, and probably your readers as well.
Each of my novels belongs to a different genre, and tells a different story in a different tone. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.
I hope my insights inspire and reinvigorate your zest for this strange path we’ve chosen, or, more accurately, the path that has chosen us. What are some of the rules that you live by? Share below your thoughts and your personal story about why you write.
If you’d like to learn more about my books , click here.