Hello wonderful SEers! Mae here today with a Friday Five. I hope you enjoy my list of five things every writer should have in their arsenal. These may be abstract, but I think you’ll recognize their importance:
1. Supportive Loved Ones
Non-writers don’t often understand what authors go through. We seal ourselves away, hunched over a keyboard, and block the outer world. Sooner or later, no matter how diligent our attempts to balance family life and writing, our craft can infringe on time spent with loved ones.
When we’re writing into the wee hours of the morning, or putting off dinner “just one more hour,” it’s great to have family and friends who understand that the life of a writer spins on a different axis.
2. A Tough Exterior
There’s a lot of the obvious in this one. Writers are subject to having work rejected and garnering bad reviews. Sooner or later, no matter how talented you are, you’re going to have to cross that bridge. The best book in the world will not appeal to everyone.
The first public review I received was three stars. Not awful, but I had dreamy-eyed visions of five stars. I still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What if they were all like that? Of course they weren’t. There were many five stars that followed, but I’ve netted one and two star reviews as well. And why shouldn’t I, when my favorite authors fare the same? The first “bad” review stung. Now I know it’s part of the life I have chosen. Buck up and adopt a tough exterior!
3. The Ability to Step out of Your Comfort Zone
I’m an introvert. Most writers are. That doesn’t fit with being the center of attention and promoting our work, but the field we’ve chosen requires stepping out of comfort zones. For me, that has involved doing book signings, presentations, and speeches. Ugh!
The good news is the more often we force ourselves into the spotlight, whether online or in person, the easier those moments become. I will never be comfortable as an extrovert—a role I adapt for presentations and speeches—but knowing I’ve donned that cloak before makes the fit easier to face the next time.
4. A Willingness to Grow
As a writer, I feel I’m always learning—and I’m open to learning. We sometimes chafe at constructive criticism. Granted, not all criticism is warranted, but as writers we can learn and grow through the experience and knowledge of others. Whether that comes from editors, critique partners, or peers, we should keep an open mind.
Back to that first book I wrote—after publication another author emailed me pointing out a few things I could have done better. My first reaction was to go on the defensive, but then I thought about what she said, and she was right. Her suggestions were minor, having to do with style, but she was trying to offer her wisdom to a newbie. Acknowledged, accepted, and cataloged for the future!
5. A Passion for the Craft
You probably think this is obvious, but that’s not necessarily true. Over the years I’ve met numerous people who love writing and dream of publication, but have no passion to see it through. Long hours, rejections, bad reviews, endless promo, stepping out of comfort zones—you need passion to put up with the negative side of an author’s life.
We get plenty of rewards too—personal satisfaction, seeing our work “out there,” good reviews, sales, name recognition. If only every day could be like that. To stay the course, it’s a passion for writing that will see you through.
Do you have these items in your arsenal? Do you rely on them and/or others? If you could add one “abstract” to this list what would it be?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Ready, set, go!