If we want a long-lasting career writing fiction, we have to step back from what we’re doing once in a while and re-evaluate. Both in what we’re writing and how we’re approaching our author platform, branding, and social media.
In the years from 2009 to 2017, I wrote an average of five to nine books a year. I was publishing at a frantic pace, both traditionally and independently under a couple of different pen names. I was running myself into the ground, all the while not fully writing the books that I was dying to write. I had some projects that were a little more paycheck than passion, and some that were a little more passion than paycheck (I’d argue that most books fall somewhere in between). But when I thought about the books of mine that I WANTED to talk about and was EXCITED for people to read…the list was quite small.
So, I took about two-three years off of writing. Well, I wrote, but I wrote purely for the love of experimentation. I wrote a mediocre middle grade, a couple of women’s fiction that would later be borderline horror, and I PLAYED. I played with tense and POV and adding media and genre-mashing.
The only goal was to find a way forward that I couldn’t WAIT to talk about.
During those two years, I edited SO MANY BOOKS. Just ask Cassie over at CookieLynn Pub. I learned from each book I edited. Every movie I watched. Every story I read.
What does this have to do with you?
Well, if you’re a commercial fiction author who relies on their fiction income, probably not a lot.
If you want to make sure that your career as a fiction author lasts a long time…keep reading.
Pause once in a while. Find a few words that describe the things/traits that are most important to you NOW. Are you using those in your writing? If not, why not? And if not, is there a way to infuse some of what’s most important to you into your books?
You may NEED more fun in your life, so why not infuse that into your fiction? You want to showcase the ups and downs of serious topics, why not infuse that into your fiction?
If we’re excited about our books, about what we’re writing, it’s going to shine through.
I’m the first to admit that it’s HARD to go from writing on deadlines, selling on proposal, and knowing what the next couple years of publication life is going to be to…nothing. Hard doesn’t quite describe it. Brutal is better. You have to let go of the “should” thoughts and the “woulds” and the “coulds” to really get in tune with YOU.
Allie and I have always been very upfront about being psychology-led authors, editors, and platform specialists. We re-connect with ourselves and that enables us to reconnect with our fiction.
If you’re exhausted, consider giving yourself a couple of weeks, or a couple of years, to re-group. Fall in love with story. Get excited about writing. Examine what’s working (and what isn’t) in both your fiction and your online presence.
Happy Writing/re-Organizing Friends,