I don’t normally make them. We all know we promise ourselves to do something and then we don’t follow through. But this year, I broke my own resolution NOT to make a resolution. It started with the stress and the insomnia over the holidays with the new book release. Nothing with The Haunting Season has been easy. Everything that could go wrong seems to have gone wrong. I kept thinking about all those things and the numbers and ranks and marketing strategies. I ran a million pieces of advice through my head. I’ve tried to do everything right by my books — I try to achieve perfection. I stress over covers and editing and beta readers. I stress over marketing and blogs, social media, ads. I pour over books on writing and improving my craft. I have my close friend and crit partner, Leslie Tentler, on speed dial to talk me off the ledge countless times during my first drafts. Why? Because I somehow think that a first draft has to be… good. No, I think they’ve got to be pretty darn good. Better than just missing scenes and typos and chunks of text I’ll cut later.
It was 4 in the morning, January 1 when I couldn’t sleep anymore and got up. I did a little reading on the iPad. Everything raced through my head at once – the marketing, the drafts, social media – the number of books on my brain. Then, while thinking of all these things WHILE still reading a book on writing, I stumbled across this written across the screen:
”Don’t get it right, get it written!” ~James Thurber
All thoughts stopped. I stared at that one sentence and sighed. I took a deep breath. And for the first time in months I felt tension slip away. The answer to everything writing related came to me then and there.
There’s no better advice for completing a first draft out there. None. And so, that’s my New Year’s resolution. In the end, it’s always the story that matters. Not the extra mile I’ve been doing with marketing. Not the extra time spent finding cute things to tweet or post on FB. To write well, a writer needs to have passion. I can’t find passion if my mind isn’t focused on one thing at a time. I need time to write horrible first drafts and the time to polish them into something amazing.
To gear up, I bought myself a present. It’s a large 15 oz mug that I’ll use every day. It’ll sit on my desk and remind me of what I’m there to do. I could have gone with several others, like these:
Hilarious. And true. And something to make me think about FB and Twitter, which would lead to checking them both.
It’s true, but it’s hardly inspiration for me to put black on white. Besides, no one in my house would listen. They’d barely listen to this:
And I knew it was perfect. As writers, we learn to replace many words with one well-chosen word. One word often makes the biggest impact.
This mug puts my mind where it needs to be – back to basics. And for me, that’s