I’m subscribed to all kinds of random inspiration/positivity/interesting stuff newsletters. Last week I got one from Daily Good about Gandhi’s 10 Rules For Changing The World, and as soon as I read it, I thought they just as easily applied to writing. So…Gandhi’s words, my riff–all stuff to consider as you’re formulating your goals and working through the next 80 days with us:
- Change yourself. For all that I preach that we aren’t alone in this (since the point of ROW80 is community and support and accountability), nobody can do anything for you. If you aren’t seeing the results you want in your writing, then you’ve got to change yourself and your habits. You can’t blame anybody else if you don’t MAKE the time to sit your butt down and get in some words. If you’ve got kids and spouse and other people haranguing you, then maybe that time is the 5 minutes you lock yourself in your bathroom with your phone, but FIND IT. MAKE IT. DO IT.
- You are in control. Of your behavior. Of your plot and your characters (I know, your characters might actually say otherwise, but remember, in their world, you are god). Don’t let anybody push you around and don’t make excuses.
- Forgive and let go. All that being said, if you don’t make your goal today or this week, don’t waste time beating yourself up about it. It’s already past. Forgive yourself, let it go and start fresh tomorrow.
- Without action you aren’t going anywhere. The difference between amateurs and pros are the people who actually take action, who DO, who WRITE. Don’t just pay lip service to the dream. Put in the work. Take a step every day toward it, even if it’s only writing one sentence, or a new question for your brain to mull over.
- Take care of this moment. There is this temptation for people to live in the past (often with failures) or in the future (where stuff is magically supposed to be how you want it to be–see number 4), but you know what? You will never actually live in the past or in the future. You are only ever in THE PRESENT. That is THE ONLY state you are capable of experiencing. So realign your vision and focus on WHERE YOU ARE.
- Everyone is human. Publishing is full of those 1% miracle success stories. People who got that 7 figure deal or sold 100,000 books in a week or whatever the latest poster child is. Don’t make a myth out of these people. Don’t disconnect from them. Because regardless of their amazing successes they ARE human and probably didn’t sell their soul to achieve their successes. If they’re human, then you are as capable as they if you put in the work.
- Persist. It’s easy to get discouraged in this line of work. With the exception of a rare few, publishing is a long haul game for everyone. Almost no one achieves that overnight success. For everyone else it’s about getting out more books, better books, building that backlist and reputation. One foot in front of the other.
- See the good in people and help them. This is where we come back to community. Instead of looking at other writers and seeing competition, see the good in them and do what you can to help. Earn some good writer karma. Retweet their book release, legitimately be interested and ask them questions, review that good book you just finished and tell a friend. Do what you can to help others and eventually it’ll work back to helping you.
- Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self. This applies not only to how you behave in social media (be a person, not a bot!) but also how you write. Particularly when we’re young in our writing career, it can be tempting to try to mimic whatever out there is popular. Don’t. You write what you want to write. You write with YOUR voice. It is uniquely you, and you should be proud of that, and strive to grow a career around it.
- Continue to grow and evolve. This is a biggie. Don’t ever stop learning. Always strive to improve your craft, learn more, become better. You should never, ever stagnate as a writer because there are always more things you can learn.
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