Baby Evil Writers 101: On New Year’s Resolutions
So, I have been watching everyone on Twitter and Facebook make their choices about what they’ll try to achieve in 2013. The thing about resolutions is that you’re supposed to actually do them. You’re making a promise to yourself that you will accomplish these goals. You might want to think twice about a few I have heard.
I will get an agent/editor. ßBAD IDEA
Ummm…no. First of all, the agent or editor chooses you. You pick who to query with your work but after that, the words are all you have. Also, you don’t get them. You work together as a team. The better goal would be to say, I will send out 100 polished, edited, queries in 2013. You can control this resolution while the first is really up to fate.
I will get a book deal. ß BAD IDEA
Once again, this isn't within your control. You cannot force anyone’s hand. You cannot make a deal—unless, of course, you make your own fake publishing company and self-publish your story. If all you want is to see your words in print, then go ahead. But don’t expect Goofball and the Amazing Muse to sell like Fifty Shades of Grey. You have a better chance of winning the lotto.
I will make a bestseller list. ßBAD IDEA
Of course we would all like to see our book in the top ten lists of The New Your Times. I’m happy for every single writer who is on that list. But, once again, you have no control over whether you make a list or not. All you can control is your writing. You can make yourself sit at the keyboard. You can make yourself outline and write a killer synopsis. You can’t make the faceless masses buy your book. There are names for people who try to force others to do things. Most of them I wouldn't use in public.
I will write like it is my job. ßGOOD IDEA
If you have the goal of writing, and actually making green money from your books, you’d better get in the habit of making it your work. This is a resolution that, for the most part, you can control. Of course, if an airplane crashes into your house, you get a free pass and a do-over.
I will think before I hit SEND on an email. ßEVEN BETTER IDEA
I firmly believe that most writers shoot themselves in the foot agent-wise. They get a form rejection, and fire off an email quicker than snap. A rejection is only that. Your work isn't ready, or it isn't a story that the agent/editor loves. It isn't a reflection on you, your brain, your heart, or your children. Until you click send, the door to that particular agent/editor is open. The very second you pop off that blistering tirade, the door closes forever.
I will edit the literal crap out of my work to the best of my ability. ßBEST IDEA EVER!
Editing your own work is difficult, but not impossible. You definitely need a group of beta readers to help you find where what was in your mind didn’t land on the page. You can see your characters like they’re standing in the room. They’re ingrained in your imagination so well that unless you put your work away for weeks (and possibly months if your memory is good), you literally cannot find the mistakes. Editing makes the difference between getting an agent/editor, and singing the blues.
But no matter what you said on January first, give your resolutions a good think, and change them if you need to. Unrealistic goals set you up to fail, and no one needs that, right?