So after last week’s blog post, I realized there were a few points left untouched. So without further ado, here are a few more things I wish I’d been told before I started writing with the serious intent of publication.
1. You won’t be able to read for pleasure as often.
How many books did you read last month? Last year?
Cut that in half.
That’s how much my reading has been affected by my writing. (I’m not counting beta or critique partner reading, just published books). Turns out, when you spend a lot of your free time writing, there’s just less of it for reading.
Now you definitely shouldn’t cut it out entirely. Reading is still crucial for keeping your writing sharp and refilling your creative well. But I will say my volume decreased drastically and has made me pickier about which books actually get read. Speaking of which…
2. It will likely be harder to enjoy the books you do read.
As soon as I started seriously studying writing craft, I noticed a drastic uptick in books I DNFed (did-not-finish). Books that I previously would have completed now get dropped mid-book if they’re “just okay”.
Why? Because I’m better able to pinpoint what isn’t working for me and then I just can’t ignore it. Before, I would think “this isn’t really hooking me but I don’t know why; maybe I just need to read another chapter for it to get going”. But now I can identify flat protagonists, repetitive sentence structure, fluctuating verb tenses, and other things that make a book less enjoyable for me.
I’ve become far more critical with my reading, which makes it much more difficult to find those knock-it-out-of-the-park, “I LOVED IT” books.
3. Everything is going to remind you of your characters. Everything.
That angsty love song you just heard on the radio. Some pithy quote in a TV show that your sidekick could have said. A decadent dessert your protagonist would love. A gorgeous actor that looks just like your story’s lead.
I can barely hear a song now without assigning it to at least one character or pairing in my book. I see a pair of socks with purple roses on them and think “oh, I have to get these, they’re so much like [character]’s style!”
4. It’s never “just one idea”.
Once you crack open that creative door and build a habit of utilizing your imagination, your brain isn’t going to stop.
Maybe it’ll keep spinning off other stories featuring side characters from your main book. You might get a completely new idea for a different novel. But once you turn on that faucet, it’s hard to shut it off.
If you stop writing, eventually your brain can just give up and stop pouring ideas into your head. But if you’re writing every day, the new and shiny story concepts are going to keep on coming.
5. You will spend as much (or more) time researching the industry as you do writing.
For traditionally-published authors, some of these questions are: How do I write a query? What’s an advance and how do they work? Which agents accept submissions for my genre and age category?
For self-published authors you have: Where do I go for design? What exactly is an ISBN and where do I get one? How should I price my book for optimal sales numbers vs royalty-per-book?
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge learning curve no matter which publishing path you choose, and it takes a lot of time.
Okay, I’m done with the nasty truths now, I promise! Next week will be a more helpful post: a troubleshooting process to fix things when you hate your writing.