It has been scientifically proven that good habits are easy to break. There’s rarely social support for “good” habits like eating vegetables, controlling portion sizes, honestly assessing yourself, recognizing your talents, or doing monthly breast exams. We all know these things are necessary, but the stores still sell candy bars at the checkout, the restaurants sell plates of pasta big enough to feed four, and there’s a billion-dollar industry telling people they just aren’t pretty enough without $500 worth of beauty products.
For all of these good habits there’s a very easy bad habit waiting to catch you at a weak moment.
As a writer the challenge of forming good habits (writing regularly, maintaining a consistent word count, publishing on a predictable schedule, and not giving up during edits) sometimes seems insurmountable. Here are a few tried and true tricks to keep you writing through the slumps, rejections, and doubtful days.
Know What You Love
Everyone who starts writing as a hobby faces the temptation of writing a little bit of everything. Most writers start with fanfic or derivative fiction, playing with the worlds of other authors. The first few stories an author thinks up are wild and elaborate and sometimes more than a bit crazy. And then the idea of Publishing rises up like an Elder God out of the depths of the murk. The poor author thinks, “Well, maybe I should tame my crazy a bit. Write something more like Big Name Author. Write Genre XYZ because it sells so well.”
This sounds like a good idea but it is the death knell for so many brilliant careers. If you don’t love the genre: don’t write in it. If you don’t love a writing style: don’t write in it. If you don’t love an idea: don’t write it at all.
Know what you love; write what you love. Because only love will keep you going through the bad days.
There’s been a fad for, oh, the past century or so, of people trying to copy the schedules of famous authors. Whether it was getting the same hard liquor as Old White Dude or listening to the same piano concerto as Angry Literary Author or getting up at 4am to write because Fabulous YA Author does… people have tried it. They have tried everything.
Inevitably this leads to new authors throwing their keyboards out the window in frustration and swearing they aren’t cut out to be an author. The truth is: you gotta do you.
Are you a night owl? I am, and waking up early to write doesn’t work. It never has. My best writing days usually start at 8pm and finish at 1 in the morning. It’s against all scientific sense but it works for me.
Find out what works for you and make your own rituals and habits.
Find Your Crew
Take a quick look at the nearest history book and find an example of something done by someone alone. Spoiler Alert: It’s never happened.
Although some historical heroes left the names of their helpers out, they didn’t go it alone. And neither should you.
No matter what stage of writing you’re at you will need someone who believes in you when you don’t believe in yourself. Someone who will read your work and give you honest feedback. And someone who can help you move forward with your career in whichever direction you want to take it.
Make a list and find: one cheerleader, several crit partners, and a mentor.
Having trouble? Check online crit and crit partner contests, or online critique groups like Critique Circle. Other authors are waiting to cheer you on.
It’s so very, very easy to not be an author. Millions upon millions of people are not authors. Millions upon millions of people have said, “I have this idea for a book but I never…” sat down to write it, finished it, found the time, or some other tried and true excuse.
Don’t let that be you.
Dreams are hard to catch. If it was easy to make dreams come true, everyone would do it! You have an amazing talent waiting to unfold. You are keeping secret a story only you can tell. Write. Share your vision with the world. We’re all waiting to read your book, so don’t quit, the readers are counting on you.
Liana Brooks once read the book GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and noted that both their biographies invited readers to send money (or banana daiquiris). That seems to have worked well for them. Liana prefers strawberry daiquiris (virgin!) and will never say no to large amounts of cash in unmarked bills.
Her books are sweet and humorous with just enough edge to keep you reading past your bedtime.
Liana was born in San Diego after bouncing around the country she’s settled (temporarily) in the great wilderness of Alaska. She can be found on Twitter (@LianaBrooks), Goodreads, on FaceBook, and on the web at www.lianabrooks.com. For more news about Liana and her books, you may subscribe to her newsletter.
Blurb for The Day Before
A body is found in the Alabama wilderness. The question is:
Is it a human corpse … or is it just a piece of discarded property?
Agent Samantha Rose has been exiled to a backwater assignment for the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, a death knell for her career. But then Sam catches a break—a murder—that could give her the boost she needs to get her life back on track. There’s a snag, though: the body is a clone, and technically that means it’s not a homicide. And yet, something about the body raises questions, not only for her, but for coroner Linsey Mackenzie.
The more they dig, the more they realize nothing about this case is what it seems … and for Sam, nothing about Mac is what it seems, either.
This case might be the way out for her, but that way could be in a bodybag.
A thrilling new mystery from Liana Brooks, The Day Before will have you looking over your shoulder and questioning what it means to be human.
Friday May 17th, 2069
Alabama District 3
Commonwealth of North America
With an asthmatic wheeze the engine died. It figured. Stuck in a man’s craw, it did. This truck had been his daddy’s and his pappy’s, and before the Commonwealth government forced him to replace the diesel engine with the newfangled water doohickey, he was certain he’d pass the truck onto his son.
He’d been playing under the hood of trucks since he was six and now he was stranded. Embarrassing, that’s what it was. He climbed out of the cab to check the engine out of habit. The ice blue block of modern fuel efficiency stared back. Three hundred bucks it’d cost him, straight from his pocket.
Oh, there was a government subsidy, all right. A priority list.Major Population Centers, they said. Unite the countries of the Commonwealth on a timeline, they said. And what did all that mean?
It meant the damn Yankees got upgraded cities and free cars before the ink was dry on the Constitution and what about the little man? Nobody thought about the working class. No one cared about a man covered in oil and grease anymore.
He thumbed his cellphone on. No reception. Figured.
So much for the era of new prosperity. He’d hoof it. There was a little town about five miles down the road where he could call Ricky to bring a tow truck. It would have been cheaper to pay the diesel fines than get all this fixed.
Off schedule. Over budget. Son of a –
He stared at the distant trees. Well, it wasn’t going to get any cooler.
He grabbed his wallet and keys from the cab of his truck. The tree line looked like a good spot to answer a call from nature,then he’d see if there weren’t a shortcut through to town. A meadowlark sang. Not a bad day for a hike. Would’ve been better if it weren’t so dammed hot, but at least the humidity was low. He wouldn’t like to walk in a summer monsoon, not at his age with arthritis playing up.
Under a sprawling oak he unzipped his pants. As an afterthought, he glanced down to make sure he wouldn’t stir up a hill of fire ants.
A hand lay next to his boots.
He blinked, zipped his pants slowly, and turned around. “Hello?”
Cicadas chirped in answer.
“Are you drunk?” The quiet field that looked so peaceful only moments before was now eerily sinister. He nudged the hand with his foot. It was swollen and pale and crusted with blood, just like a prop out of a horror movie.
Maybe it was a good idea to run to the next town.