My “Golden Rules” of Writing

My Golden Rules

These are just some of mine. You make your own as you go along, but these are some I’ve learned in the past few years and they don’t really have anything to do with writing, but more about behavior for writers.

1. The internet can be your friend. It can also be your downfall. Everything you say, everything you post, will be seen. If you’re a bitch, people will know it. You want to be opinionated and insulting? Guess what? Everyone will know you’re opinionated and insulting. If that’s the way you want to portray yourself, have at it. Don’t be surprised if it comes back and bites you in the ass later.

2. I’m a big believer in Karma. Don’t shit on your writing friends and peers and don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Don’t screw other people in this industry, because editors, agents, publishers, etc move like flies. You never know who you might be working for or with tomorrow. Some wannabe author you publicly maligned might be a NY times bestseller two years from now and you might need a quote from them. Good luck with that.

3. Reviews. You’ll get some great ones, and you’ll get some stinkers. Celebrate the great ones, but for the love of God, keep your mouth shut about the bad ones. Nothing’s worse than an author who publicly moans and bitches about a lousy review. We all get them. Not every soul on the planet is going to love your book. Get over yourself. Call up your writing friends or IM or email them and bitch a blue streak about that vicious reviewer who clearly doesn’t know her ass from a hole in the ground, but don’t do it publicly. You’ll just look stupid and you’ll never, ever come out of it on the right. And you’ll never change the review or the reviewer’s mind, but you might change a lot of reader’s minds about you, and not in a good way.

4. Choose your friends wisely in this industry. Many will be there to support you, celebrate your triumphs and carry you during the rough times. Others claim to be your BFF, but are just waiting to tear you down at the slightest failure. Those you don’t need. Cut ties with those who can’t be happy for you when you’re flying high – they aren’t your true friends.

5. Pay it forward. Support your peers. Recommend a great book or two you’ve read. This business isn’t all about you and what others can do for you. Make sure you give it back to others. Somewhere along the way a few wonderful authors helped you. Remember how awesome that felt? Now do the same for someone else.

6. Never be afraid to speak your mind or defend yourself. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and not take shit from anyone, especially if you’re being unjustly attacked. At the same time, it isn’t cool to be a raving bitch. Temperance is a virtue. It really is okay to be a nice person. Makes you so much more approachable. Really.

7. There will always be authors who write better than you. You may read a book that makes you sit back and think, “Goddamn, that was freakin’ brilliant and I suck.” I call that incentive to consistently work at my craft. I don’t call it license to pout or throw a fit or paralyze myself into not being able to write another word ever. My voice is unique and I love it. I will never be that other writer. She or he will never be me. We each bring our own talents to the table. Appreciate someone else’s ability to craft a book that made you go ‘wow’, then go back and do what you do best.

8. Speaking of #7, you are your own best cheerleader. Don’t expect other people to blow smoke up your ass and tell you how great you are. You wanna write a great book? Then write a great book, but don’t expect the world to hover at your doorstep for it. Yes, you have peers and critique partners and whatever to help motivate you, but don’t require them to ask you every day if you’ve been writing. It’s not their job – it’s yours. Yours, yours, yours. Kick yourself in the ass and self-motivate into getting that book done. You wanna sell it? Then write it. And quit whining about all the reasons you can’t get it done.