Angela Adams tagged me a few weeks back for this post. I’m not really sure mine are things I’ve learned this year, but they are more like five things I’d pass along to my readers and fellow writers.
5. Technology does not always make your life better or easier. What? This coming from a die-hard geek? Yep, so take note! Check social media sites no more than twice a day. These giant time-suckers will make you wonder where your time went when you should be: a) writing or b) out enjoying a life. They call it social media, but really – if Twitter or Facebook is your life, rethink your life. How about spending time with actual people? Wow. What a concept, right? Also, you don’t need the latest and greatest app or device. Sure, it may be drool worthy, but if you have to ask yourself how the item can benefit you, and how you can squeeze it into your digital life, you don’t need it. Get out more. Smile, live, laugh – and share it with those you love. And don’t look in the App store, because there’s just no app for that.
4. Never trust people who don’t have a sense of humor. Seriously, do I really have to explain this? If they were real people, whom would you trust? Ron or Voldemort? If you still don’t get it (and you’ve read Harry Potter), then it’s because you’re too busy plotting evil in this world.
3. Everything you must have, owns you. Be it a house, gadgets, collectibles, relationships, or goals. Think about it. Then make a list. Cut the chaff and then give full attention to those remaining things and people who mean the most to you.
2. The world is full of ‘No!’ Get used to it or move to a different planet. The publishing world is not a candy-coated elementary school where no writer is left behind and everyone gets gold stars, milk, and Oreo cookies. So what if the world likes sparkly, doe-eyed vampires more than your well-written apocalyptic YA with strong characters and a kick-ass plot. Keep trying. Consider the fact that your story still needs work before resending. Sparkly vampires delivered the right experience to the right agent. Give the reader an experience they can’t forget, because, like everything in life…
1. It’s all about the experience. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking a book, a movie, vacation, dinner out, or a product you’ve purchased. Some corporate CEO’s need to take note here, so repeat after me: It’s about the experience. It’s not about what’s cheap. Is it just me? When you hear ‘it’s about the bottom line,’ do you smell someone’s bottom line? See, the experience – the stuff we enjoy and seek out is not about money at all. It’s about what we get out of things – paid for or free. Let’s take books. People will pay extra for a great story. They’ll pay $20 for a hardback book over a so-so $2.99 ebook if the author spins a really great story. No, I’m NOT knocking ebooks. I’m fairly positive there are a lot of incredible ebooks for $2.99. The point is that the reader wants to be drawn into the characters and the setting. They want to feel like they’re right there with your MC, experiencing and seeing and feeling what your MC does. The book has got to do more than simply follow a plotline to completion, just as a product has to do more than what’s advertised on the box. Think Apple. Yeah, Jobs knows his stuff… people buy iPhones and iPods and just about everything else from Apple, despite their cheaper competitor’s products because the experience, from product to support, meets or exceeds their expectations. If the product breaks and you can’t understand the customer support person – or, in book terms, if the character doesn’t grow and the plot derails or shuffles along, you lose a reader or the attention of an agent.
Now, go write something worth experiencing. But, don’t forget to experience life along the way.