There's been a lot of writer whining on the interwebs lately. I've spoken about the sense of entitlement ad nauseum. But today, I'm going to focus on the positive. Here's three things (beyond craft) I believe that a successful writer needs.
Without passion, without the driving need to record your thoughts and whimsy, your stories will lack that certain something. That ephemeral quality that will pull a reader into the world that only exists in your mind.
I'm not one of those people that says you have to write every day. Granted, I do, but that's my method to retain my sanity. But if you don't have that overwhelming need to spill out your creativity and knowledge, then you're probably not going to make it as a writer.
2) HARD WORK
Once the initial high of your creative side wears off, you find that shaping your vision into a product of reality is difficult. It's tough. It's demanding. The image in your mind doesn't just coalesce on page or laptop. It has to go through what is essentially your brain's translation matrix from one hemisphere to the other in order for your fingers to record it to paper or screen.
This is the point where most folks give up. Writing should be fun, not work, they think. Actually, it should be both. As in, this is the work you love doing because it is fun. But nothing is ever 100% fun. Not even Halo. And I've had the thumb cramps to prove it.
No one in our highly Protestant-influenced American culture wants to believe luck is a factor in our success. Hard work and clean living should be enough to guarantee success. If you don't succeed, then you weren't working hard enough!
But in reality, hard work isn't enough. Otherwise, there's a ton of terrific books that should have been on a bestseller list. Sometimes, it comes down to sheer dumb luck. Alter Ego's wonderful sales are due to a book that came out the month after her first one. Maybe you've heard of Fifty Shades of Gray? Without readers looking for more books like E.L. James', no one would have given Alter Ego's a second glance.
"Oh, that's just a fluke," I hear you say. Yes and no. Blood Magick's sales had tapered off from it's initial high in 2011, but then jumped up again last summer. Why? Because the indomitable Nora Roberts had a brand new book up for presale. Wanna guess what her title was? Because we shared the same title, people were seeing my book pop up on their searches. A few gave mine a try while they were waiting for La Nora's.
Then there are the times when luck turns the other way. Ask David Hasselhoff about his big American concert that was supposed to launch his U.S. music career that was pre-empted by O.J. Simpson's police chase. Or my friend Kim, who's big paranormal debut came three days after Hurricane Ike ravaged Houston. Local appearances were cancelled, the orders for local bookstores were turned back, and she didn't have the electricity to do any phone or online promotions.
It would be nice if hard work was all we need, but sometimes it comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
So what does this all mean? The first two items you can control. The third one you can't. So ask yourself this--is the risk worth it?
For myself, I can say YES! As always, YMMV.
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