Holy crap, it’s Wednesday. Boxing Day, the Brits call it. Guess that’s right, because I’m getting sucker punched by my blog. ‘Cause I said I’d do a post once a week, on Wednesdays.
Tried to wiggle out of that this morning, told myself, “Hey, you did the gun control post, over the weekend. Can’t you just count that?” Nope. That was just something I felt I had to say. (It also confirms my previous experience that, if you want blog traffic and some really scary/crazy e-mails, post something saying you think that just maybe everybody everywhere carrying a gun at all times is not the best idea.)
So I still needed a post for today. Don’t want to do it, but I said I would, which means I have a deadline. Which make this feel like work. And bingo, just like that, I had my idea.
Because this is work.
I have a blog because my agent, Stacia Decker, told me to start one. Said it was a way to get a little exposure, build a platform, maybe meet some people. Basically a way to get my name out there. Which means it’s work. Fun sometimes, sure, and I have met some great people, but still work.
Has it helped? Yeah, I think it has. I don’t have Chuck Wendig’s numbers, but I seem to have a few regular followers. The blog has gotten my name out there. It’s lead to invites to be in some anthologies, a few interviews, some reviews.
But there’s also this. A big part of the reason I don’t have Chuck Wendig’s numbers is I don’t post every day like Chuck does. Went through a patch a while back where I tried my version of that, where I was getting at least two or three posts a week up, and guess what? More posts meant more traffic. But there were also great stretches were I was a lazy ass and didn’t post anything, sometimes for a weeks. Which is why I made that once-a-week on Wednesday promise – to create a schedule, a deadline, to make sure I do the work. For you writers out there, and especially for you newbies, there’s a lesson in that.
Here it is, the last week of the year, when we all tend to get a little valedictory, start looking back at the wholly artificial temporal boundaries of our calendars and try to divine great lessons. It has been a big year for me. My short fiction collection, OLD SCHOOL, was published back in March by Snubnose Press. In June, I signed my first book deal. My debut novel, PENANCE, comes out in April, my second follows on its heels. There may be another short fiction collection in between. And I’m feeling much better about the prospect for my other series, my Shakespeare novels.
It occurs to me that it’s been a good year because I did the work. I wrote the books. I think about the writers I know personally who are having the most success, folks like Joelle Charbonneau and John Hornor Jacobs and Chuck Wendig and Chris F. Holm and Frank Bill. They all write different stuff, different genres, different voices and tones. But they’ve all got books out there, more under contract, and, I’m willing to bet, more big news to come in 2013.
What they have in common is they’ve all written a lot of books. They’ve done the work. And the more work they do, the more successful they seem to get.
You can find enough writing advice out there to choke a deep-throating porn star. Be a plotter or be a pantser. Use Scrivner or write long-hand with a pencil on a yellow legal pad. Write in the morning or write at night. Self-publish or get an agent and chase a traditional deal.
I don’t think any of that is right. I don’t think any of it is wrong, either. I think this is an inherently esoteric process. They only way that works is whatever works for you. The fact is, Chuck Wendig’s signature model chinchilla-fur Penmonkey writer briefs won’t actually make you a better writer. (They are damn comfy though.)
No, the only thing that will help is doing the work. The more work you do, the better you’ll get.