I was just distracting myself from working on anything that will pay me, and realized that I hadn’t put up a blog post in awhile. And I do have some news. The news is Wearing the Cape: The B-Files is finished and out on DriveThruRPG. Yay!
What? You want more? My plots and thoughts on the next Wearing the Cape novel (still officially titled Repercussions but likely to be something else) continue to develop. It’s going to be a doozy. After the last couple of books mostly maintaining the status-quo with a bit of forward momentum on Astra’s arc, this one’s going to shake the Post-Event World to its foundations. It’s going to be so big I probably won’t be able to put the first couple of chapters up here before I release it, because fans would read them and then hunt me down. The most I can say is . . . that’s the cover up there.
Sorry, that’s all I can tell you.
But, I’m not done. I found a humorous conversation-thread that has spanned Facebook and Twitter, that at least got my absurdist juices flowing. What was it?
Now I must confess that I’ve never read Jonathan Franzen’s stuff. Doing a quick search of Amazon told me he had a couple of books up there with more than a thousand reviews each, and that’s a good indication that he’s Somebody Known.
But his 10 Rules? Yeah . . . .
I direct you to commentary provided by Chuck Wendig’s Twitter Feed. (Profanity Warning.) Personally, I think most of the reactions I’ve seen have been kind of over the top. I even feel a little for Franzen; when you’ve written a few commercially successful books you can start feeling a bit full of yourself. And you should–it’s an accomplishment. When you’ve written a couple of critically successful books, which I gather his are, and all the Right People are saying how good you are, feeling full of yourself is pretty unavoidable. And then somebody asks you “How do you do it? What are your rules?” You must have some, right?
In fairness to Franzen’s critics, though, a bunch of these aren’t rules. They’re observations of debatable usefulness.
So, in the spirit of my need for distraction, I started thinking about my own 10 Rules for Successful Writers. And here they are.
Marion G. Harmon’s 10 Rules for Successful Writers
- Read. Read a lot. Read until you know how good writing reads. This may involve reading books on writing.
- Write. Write a lot. Write until people who don’t care about your feelings tell you that this is good writing.
- Let this uncaring person or people tell you how your writing could be better. They might not be right in their suggestions, but they’ll point you to things that you probably need to improve one way or another.
- Put what you write out there. To friends. To writers groups. To contests. To agents. To publishers. And see rules 2 and 3. Whether you get a publishing contract or self-publish, you’ll know you’re on the right road when somebody pays money for your stuff.
- When somebody pays money for your stuff, write more of that. Also, continue to listen to the people in rule #3.
- Now that somebody is paying to read your stuff, listen to them too. Not everyone will like everything about your stuff, and while everyone’s mileage varies, not everyone with criticism is an idiot. Really.
- Listening doesn’t mean agreeing. Listen to them, look at your stuff, and make up your own mind. After all, you did a lot of things right already; otherwise they wouldn’t buy your stuff.
- Money is nice, but don’t write stuff just because you know people will buy it. You’ve got to like it, too. After all, your name is on it. And it gets boring if you’re not invested in it yourself.
- Form habits that help you to write more stuff. But don’t go crazy.
- See rule #1. Keep reading other people’s stuff.
So there you go, my ten rules for successful writing. Be inspired. Or laugh a little. To quote a wonderful scene from Parks and Recreation:
Amy Poehler: “That’s not really the attitude I’d expect from an award winner.”
Nick Offerman: “Everything I do is the attitude of an award winner, because I’ve won an award.”
People pay to read my stuff, so all my rules are the rules of a successful writer.