Being a writer sucks. There are many reasons for this. Allow me to name the top 3:
1.) There is no off switch. While people in other occupations may get a day off, clock out at 5 and kick back, a writer is either writing, thinking about writing, or planning what to write next. The writing brain never relaxes.
2.) The publishing world is constantly changing. Once you get used to one thing it explodes in your hands, and everything is now different. You can never get comfortable.
3.) Isn’t 1 and 2 enough?
What does this mean for the working writer? It means you need to be good at one simple thing.
Realigning Your Expectations
A writer must be constantly on her toes, ready to take in the next thing and the next and the next one after that. While agility is great, it does you no good if you’re stuck on this idea you had 10 years ago and never acted on. Chances are it (and you) are obsolete now.
A writer must be able to recognize when there is a need to and also how to realign one’s expectations.
This can get personal, and for that reason, writers often find it difficult to perform this task. It’s personal because writing is personal, and thinking in terms of that writing can get tricky.
Everyone thinks they’ve written a masterpiece. Everyone. But this may not be the case, and after reviews begin trickling in, the writing might be on the wall. (Yeah, I went there.) While the book may be great, your readers might not want it. Daniel Silva said it best in a recent interview with NPR: having a successful series can be a burden. You can no longer pick and choose your projects. Your readers pick them for you.
So whether it be bad reviews or a demanding audience, a writer must always be able to recognize when the course of action must change. Here are three things to do to be sure as a writer, you’re staying agile enough to realign your expectations.
1.) Review your sales. This one is hard especially when it comes to something you love dearly: the books you’ve written. However, your sales will tell you the cold, hard truth. Loved that contemporary you wrote but you’ve only sold 3 copies in the past 6 months while your fantasy fiction short stories are selling like hotcakes? Review your publishing schedule to ensure you’re working on the project that will garner the attention of your readers.
2.) Review reviews. Now, this one is tricky. Early in my career I submitted to a lot of contests to get feedback, and then I found the feedback to be all over the place. Some judges clearly did not take the time or effort to provide constructive feedback on a submission while others simply said: I loved it. However, if you’re noticing a pattern in your reviews take note. You may just find something you missed.
3.) Listen to your readers. This one is likely the easiest of the three, because readers today are vocal. I had an email in my inbox seven days after the release of A Countess Most Daring. The reader said she loved Kate and Thatcher’s story and asked me when the next book in the series was coming out. Seven days. Seven. As in one week. I was exhausted after finishing this book, and here a reader was asking for the next one. Well, I got to writing.
Realigning your expectations is a vital trait in a writer. Remember to always review your sales, review reviews and listen to your readers if you want to stay alive in an industry that will change in the next sixty seconds.