Sunday, May 26, 2019

Seven Things You Must Avoid If You Want to Write

These three books are on sale right now. THE MARK OF THE TALA, the book that started it all, first in The Twelve Kingdoms series. Also THE PAGES OF THE MIND, my RITA® Award-winning novel, which kicks off a new phase in the overall series, and PRISONER OF THE CROWN, first in a stand-alone spin off trilogy, The Chronicles of Dasnaria. If you've been thinking about reading my books or this series, it's a great time to start!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week regards the writer's Seven Deadly Sins: the list of things you MUST avoid if you want to finish a project on time. Of course, if you're supposed to be writing, and you're reading this, you've already broken three of mine. Oops. But never fear! There is still hope for you. Read on.

1.  Avoid the internet, full stop. 

We all know this, right? And in a different world, we could avoid the time suck and distractions of the internet entirely. But with so much tied to the internet - from our phones to messages to mail - it's not viable to ignore the internet entirely. There's always the cabin in the mountains, but people still want to that you haven't been eaten by a grizzly bear.

2. If you must internet, avoid social media.

So, if you do have to check something connected to the internet, don't open Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I disable my notifications (which they really hate and are always messaging me to change) so I only see that stuff if I actually go to the site. That takes some willpower, yes, but nothing like what it takes to break free of the gravitational pull once I do look. 

3. Stay away from click bait and rabbit holes (like this).

When I inevitably see an internet something, I have to exercise additional will power not to click on links. Remember: they're designed to make you WANT to click. (I made this post title click bait on purpose to illustrate the point.) Once they have your attention in their greedy clutches, they use all sorts of tricks to keep you there and spiraling ever downward. Best not to look in the first place. If I see something I really want to know about, I save the link. 

4. Prioritize your work over peopling.

There's a good reason so many writers are introverts: because they find it easier to avoid peopling. Even then, however, socializing can really disrupt a writing schedule. For me, I have to block out more time to write than I use actually writing. I need time to settle in, to ramp up, to take breaks. People who don't write rarely understand this. They also don't understand the trancelike focus writing requires and that their "one quick question" can derail a writer for hours.

5. Ignore people who don't (or won't) get it. 

Which is why you have to draw a bright, hard line for the people in your life. Do whatever it takes to get them to understand and respect your writing time. If they still don't get it? Well, I'd venture to say that we don't need people in our lives like that. A hard stance, I know, but if they won't respect your passion and livelihood, what exactly DO they add to your life?

6. Kick other people out of the room.

Not physically, because we did this in #5, right? These are the people in your head who like to yammer on about what you're writing. Some might be positive influences. Others might be severely critical. There's always someone yelling about what you CAN'T POSSIBLY DO. How can a person write in all that noise??? That's right, we can't. So kick them all out and enjoy the blessed silence.

7. Acknowledge fear and let it go.

I have a sign over my desk that says, "What would you write if you weren't afraid?" Sometimes when I tell people this, they reply that they're not afraid of anything. Bully for them. Also, I don't believe them. Any time I worry about how something I write will be received, that's fear. Ignoring that concern does nothing. Instead, whenever I fret over something in a story, I try to acknowledge that fear, look at my poster, and then write what I would if that worry had never occurred to me.

If I can avoid these pitfalls, I just might get my book finished on time. 

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