It’s been two years since I’ve published a brand new book. (I kind of had the first line from “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies in my head when I started this post. Don’t remember it? Take a second: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7vp28mGD7g). For 1.5 years of that time, I spent most of it as I think authors hit by “writer’s block” do. Making excuses but no progress. (Okay, at this point I had to shut the song off, ’cause there was no way to write this with all that yapping going on). Finally, like a cruise ship at sea, I started to turn my perspective around. I started to write again. Here are two things I learned from that downtime, and that will hopefully help you get through your own when it comes (because it will come):
MAKE PROGRESS AT ALL COSTS
No, General Eisehhower, do not take this too seriously. Don’t alienate a loving spouse. Don’t ignore your kid’s functions. Don’t lock yourself in a room for three months with nothing than a generator and a computer (you need Vitamin D, for Pete’s sake–another aside, who the hell was Pete and why are we thinking about his sake?) What I mean is do not let excuses get in the way of your writing. And, what I mean by making progress at all costs is the following. Keep pushing your next manuscript forward. Even if you can only muster 100 words a day, keep moving forward. Stasis is our enemy, as authors. Set up a Google Drive account and put the text of your next book into a file on your Drive. Why? This eliminates the excuse that your book is on a home computer, and you’re on a train commuting to work. You can open your Google Drive anywhere you can get connected, on any device. That means you can basically write anytime you want, from anywhere. It gives a new meaning to the phrase, “Toilet Book,” doesn’t it? (I feel like putting this into citation format: See Seinfeld, “Toilet Book” episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NygOFsExGMU).
All right, you’ve agreed to set aside excuses and to push forward at all costs, yeah? Good. Now, what was the second part of my epiphany?
TO BE AN AUTHOR, YOU WILL WORK YOUR ASS OFF
I need you to notice something that is going to make you a bit sad. I didn’t title this next section, “To be a Successful Author…” You know why? Because, even if you work your ass off it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be successful. But, I can guarantee you that you won’t be an author, or successful, if you don’t do it. What do I mean by “working one’s ass off?” I say the following with a bit of pride, particularly for all of us authors who are still balancing the woes of a “regular” job and writing. (To those authors that aren’t slaves to the grind of someone else’s dream, and who get to write 100% of their time, I salute you with a kiss blown from a hand that’s holding up a middle finger–hopefully those authors get the love and joking sarcasm that comes from this gesture). It means waking up before the rest of the world is awake and writing down an idea that couldn’t stand being pent up in your head. It means holding your smartphone over the side of the bed so that the light of the screen doesn’t wake your snoring spouse while you make edits to your book. It means that instead of watching the next episode of CBS’s hit de jour, you’re reading books in your genre to perfect your craft. It means that you will work your ass off, without knowing whether your book will sell, whether a publisher will pick it up, or even if people will like it. Talk about a leap of faith, huh?
YOU CAN DO IT
(I don’t think I need to reference that one for you, right?)
It’s true, you can do it. You just need to start. You need to run the first block, and everyday thereafter take it one block, or even one step further. I know hundreds of authors that are doing this on a daily basis—and they would all tell you they’re successful, in one way or another.