Do As I Say!

As I touched on in my last post, there are some values to social media. One of them is online chats about writing. The problem, invariably, with these chats is you will have some wanna be writer who is an expert in all fields and quickly lets you know how superior he or she is. They usually don’t have a track record to speak of unless you want to count years of blogging about writing. They are more than willing to inform you how stupid you are if you dare to disagree with them, however, even though their advice about how to be a successful writer hasn’t worked for them since the only thing they have published was, wait for it, self-published.

I don’t write tips on how to be a great writer often, because, frankly, I think it would be disingenuous. If I had the secret to success, I would be successful. It’s kind of like a psychic fair being canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Here’s some advice I will give you.

Read. Read. Read more.

You have to become an expert in your genre. You have to know what does and doesn’t work and what’s been done to death.

I know one writer who has decided he’s going to be the next hot thing in a genre No, he’s never read a book in that genre, nor can he name a single title, but he has a cousin who’s an editor so it doesn’t matter.


Your cousin may get your foot in the door, but your writing is what opens it.

Study the best writers. See how they craft their stories. Transcribe some of their writing so you can learn why they do things. If you wanted to learn how to be a great painter, you wouldn’t watch a group of pre-schoolers fingerpaint. You’d learn from the best. So it is with writing.

Don’t let people put you down. If they are successful and offer to teach you something, then take advantage of it. If the person who is dictating to you how you should live your life and how you should write doesn’t have a clue, politely walk away.

Be careful about who you take advice from. Some people want to help you and some people want to make themselves feel good. You aren’t responsible for their egos. You are responsible for you.

Your children are young once. Do you really want to miss their school activities because the expert said you have to put your writing first and you feel guilty if you don’t?

Arrange your writing around your schedule. Do it when you can, but try to do it daily. If you can’t, don’t beat yourself up about it.

Writing should come from the heart. It should be something you love. It shouldn’t be a guilt trip someone laid on you. You have your own journey and only you are responsible for your life and your success.


  1. We all have to find a way to make it right for ourselves. Getting back to the reason we love to write to begin with. I am with you. Never let it take the place of the things that are most important. I love to write, but not more than what I have built at home with my husband. I remember a line from the movie Fever Pitch. “You love the Red Sox, but when have they ever loved you back.” Make sure you put the people that love you back first.

  2. Kelly, exactly. As I’ve said before, Diana Gabaldon got up in the middle of the night to write when her children were little and she had a house and a full time job. Her children weren’t told to leave Mommy alone while she writes. Frankly, the people who have no families, don’t clean house or cook, don’t have the write to criticize others who have families to care for.

  3. Wonderful post, Julie. Of course, I’m doing NO writing whatsoever. And I missed the chat. I suck.

    On the other hand – I miss you and I’m doing my best to get to Surrey this year. How about you?

  4. Tara,

    You are doing the important things. Yes, if we want to be writers, we must write, but not at the expense of our loved ones. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for being a great mom.

    Surrey. I want to so bad. I’m fighting WC to get anything done. A doctor looked at my neck four months ago and he still hasn’t ordered an EMG to find out what’s going on. Between the extra $105 a week to the lawyer and other things, there isn’t a spare nickel.

    The game plan now is to get my body straightened out and move somewhere so I can take physical therapy courses. I plan to do that while I work on getting a civilian contracting job in Afghanistan.

    Disability runs out in September. Migraines are getting worse. I am sick all the time now and sleep most of the time.

    Interesting times.

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