A Malkuth of Me,  creativity,  the writing life,  thoughts

Lessons Learned From a Writing Life Part Two

Be BOLD – Don’t censor your thoughts and ideas no matter how outside the mainstream they are. Playing it safe doesn’t bode well for a writer.

Be FEARLESS – Don’t be afraid to try new things, embrace new technology, or hit publish on that novel you’ve had sitting in your desk drawer collecting dust for all these years. You never know who will love it. I’ve met far too many great writers languish in obscurity and never go anywhere because they were afraid.

WRITE YOUR TRUTH – Your truth is the most authentic thing you can write. Other people may judge or kick and scream because they don’t like your truth, or they doubt it, but fuck them. They’re not the people you’re writing for.

STAND YOUR GROUND – If you believe in a project whole heartedly and know in your heart that what you think is important matters, don’t be afraid to defend it. Or to insist certain changes cannot be made to a manuscript. While it’s true you should never love your work so much that not a word can be changed, there is a matter of standing up for principle. There was a large publisher that initially wanted my OTS series, but insisted I change all the characters and the storyline of that first book to fit their good witch narrative. It would have turned OTS into another cookie cutter Wicca mystery book. I said no because I was standing my ground. I wrote the book because I wanted to be able to see myself in a story for once, not just another “good witch” who clutched her pearls every time dark magick threatened everything.

PICK YOUR BATTLES CAREFULLY – Let go of the small stuff. Your editor wants to change a word, let them. Your editor thinks you should use “sundress” instead of “housedress” – that’s fine. However, if your editor insists that crickets don’t chirp at night, but damnit, you know they do and you want that detail left in the story – it’s night and crickets are chirping – that might be a moment where you want to refuse to change it, because the editor is obviously from a strange world without night crickets.

EMBRACE THE PROCESS – If you’re a writer who has to go through a manuscript three times – accept it and embrace that that is your process. This doesn’t mean you need to accept that this will always be your process. You can and should experiment with streamlining your processes. But don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy.

EMBRACE YOUR SPEED – If you write slow, embrace that. If you write fast, embrace that. Neither way is superior to another. Again, comparison is the thief of joy. You write as fast as you write (or as slow as you write) and that is that.

WRITE for YOURSELF – While we are still writing for readers, ultimately we begin writing for ourselves. Write for yourself first and foremost because that is where the joy is.

WRITE FOR Those who LOVE your work – You are not writing for your critics or people who don’t like to read what you write, therefore you shouldn’t ever listen to them. You’re writing for the people who love reading what you write. This doesn’t mean you should never improve or never accept criticism. It just means you need to keep in perspective who your actual audience is and to not allow those who aren’t your audience to side-track you.

Ignore the Lies, Haters and Drama – Mind your own Great Work. The minute you begin minding everyone else’s is the minute you lose track of your own work and start wasting all your time engaging others and participating in time sucking drama.

LET GO of a need for PERFECTION – Perfectionism is often a product of fear. Fear of criticism or not being good enough. Imposter syndrome. No matter how many editors go through a MS, mistakes will get through. It’s the nature of the beast. Accept that every MS will have at least one imperfection and relax. It’s not the end of the world. Most readers will be forgiving of a couple of errors as long as the book is entertaining or informative.

HOLD ON to your JOY – If you write because it’s your happy place (I know this is not true for everyone), then hold on to that joy. The minute you lose it, as can happen with burnout once your creative passion becomes your job, will be the moment you lose the motivation to write. I’m also convinced whoever said “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” never had to do the administrative side of the work they loved. There will always be parts of the job you hate. Don’t let what once brought you joy become something you dread.

IT’S OKAY TO REST – Creative minds need down-time to recharge and refresh the wellspring of ideas. So get out of your day-to-day life at least once a year, unplug from social media, get out into nature, book a spa day. Take time off. You don’t have to be writing or creating 24/7.

Take care of YOU – Without you, your Great Work and ideas cannot manifest. You cannot inspire others. You will not experience the joy of creation. This is why it’s so important to take care of yourself. Schedule your yearly checkups and dental appointments at the same time each year. Make sure you get enough sleep, healthy food, and exercise. Your body and mind are the only ones you get in this life. Take care of them.

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at swordarkeereon@gmail.com

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