I’ve been at this writing thing for a little over five years now, so my reflections on the past year aren’t those of a brand-new writer anymore. After completing six novels and numerous short stories, I have a fair idea of my own best practices, I recognize the importance of editing, I know how to stay productive and creative, even when the shine has worn off a project, and I understand a good bit about the publishing industry. As I reflect on my professional journey in 2019, now that I’ve been at this for a while, a few things stand out.
Writing is a long-game career.
We often complain about the lack of time we have, how busy we are, and how time flies, and this can certainly feel true. This year I tried to turn that sentiment on its head and instead consider that maybe I do have time – if I look at things from a long-game perspective. One book, one blog post, one project does not make a writing career. I have to play the long game, and, in a way, it’s a relief. This means I don’t have to accomplish everything all at once. This view of my career allows me time to grow, evolve, and make mistakes. It provides an opportunity to gain perspective and create something meaningful over time.
Focus on the things I can control.
No artist has control over how their work will be received by the outside world, or if a particular book will make it on a coveted list, win an award, or sell a million copies. It can be frustrating and unsatisfying if these are the measures we use to judge ourselves as writers.
This year, I’ve tried to focus on process versus outcome, and on those things over which I do have a measure of control. I am in charge of my work ethic and my professional behavior. I can keep up with the latest industry knowledge. And, of course, I can stay committed to improving my craft. By putting energy into these things over which I have control, I’m able to maintain a healthy relationship with this unique writer’s life and celebrate my accomplishments.
Writing and publishing are two different things.
This may seem obvious, but now that I’ve completed a full novel series, produced audiobooks, sold short fiction to podcasts and publishers, built an author platform, and done a fair bit of marketing and advertising, I differentiate between these two parts of my work life much more clearly. When I’m writing, I tell my story, and then I take the rough draft and edit it until its polished. I work to ensure I am improving as a writer with every project.
When it comes to publishing, a different mindset and skillset necessarily takes over. This is the business side of my work life and I have to treat it as such. There’s marketing and promotional work to be done, events, signings, and travel to plan, a vibrant author platform to maintain. It’s satisfying work, but very different in nature from writing.
What lessons have you learned this year? As 2019 draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect!