A friend of mine, Ben Sobieck, wrote his five goals for 2012 and asked all his writer friends to do the same.
Hmmm . . . .
Okay. Here's what I'm thinking;
If you're going to become a quote, 'success' unquote, in the writing game you'd better learn--and learn quickly--how to take the low punches, the failures, the disappointments that comes along in being a writer and continue on. God knows every writer is constantly standing behind an eight-ball waiting for that cue ball to come along and knock him down.
Somehow you've got to figure out a way to pick yourself up, reset the bones, and continue on. But not just 'carry on.' Not carry on with the dread that you're gonna get knocked down again. No. You gotta learn to carry on knowing with a positive vibration running through your soul. Fully convincing yourself YOU ARE going to succeed.
2. Develop a fan base.
Hell, boys and girls. I write genre fiction. Noir, hard boiled, fantasy, and science-fiction. For the academic pundits of the world, none of these are considered 'literature.' (well, most academic pundits. The world view is changing somewhat).
That means if I am going to succeed I need to write good enough to develop an avid fan base. So . . . how do you do that, cupcake? How do you acquire a fan base? Simple. Write great stories! Appeal to as many readers as you can in any given genre.
Simple, huh? I said it was--so it must be simple. Yeah . . . right. If writing great stories were simple we'd see billions, instead of the steady hundreds of thousands, wannabe writers garnering instant success. You see that happening? Me neither.
So that leads to goal number three . . .
3. Honing your writing skill-sets down to a sharp edge.
Everybody wants to be a writer. I mean EVERYBODY. What separates a wannabe writer from one that becomes successful? Is it talent? Does talent automatically lead to success?
In a word . . . . no.
Millions of people are more talented at writing than I am. Maybe billions. The writer who succeeds is the one who tells a compelling story. That means stringing words together in such a compact, clearly imagined sequence, it compels the reader to enter the writer's world . . . his story . . . and enjoy it to its fullest extent.
We ALL know great thinkers who write. Vastly talented slinger-of-words who throw intricate plot lines onto paper or a view screen, but who . . . for some reason . . . never acquire success. They're too wordy. Too complex. Too intellectual. Too cold in their words. No life in their visions.
The writer who succeeds is the writer who tells a compelling story in the least amount of words. Yet in those words they somehow activate all the five senses a reader possesses. A reader becomes immersed in the story. A thirst is both quenched and a new one is created! A thirst for the reader to find and read more of that writer who has so satisfied him earlier.
4. Don't listen to other people's rules.
When it comes to an artistic endeavor, rules suck. Rules by others have a tendency to shut down creativity; to limit one's self in perhaps creating a masterpiece. So don't do it. Don't follow automatically someone else's rules. Make your rules that only work for you.
Every writer hammers out a set of guidelines . . . or rules if you want to be so persnickety . . . they follow when the write. It's like wearing clothes. You buy clothes to fit you. Not for some 450 lbs. Sumo wrestler living in Hawaii who sucks down 10,000 calories at each meal he sits down to.
You wear your clothes that fit you. Rules should do the same.
These days, a write has to sell himself to the public. He has to. The market is literately bursting at the seams with other writers wanting to find that reading public. Somehow all of us have to find a way to separate ourselves from the crowd; to rise above the chaff and bask in our own bright light.
The only way to do that is to advertise yourself in just about every medium you can think of . And not be bashful about it. Where ever there's a spot where someone sits down and reads something, they should see your name. Your books. Your stories. Often. Repetitively. Ad Nauseum.
You've got to burn your name and your brand into the minds of anyone who could even be vaguely interested in reading your stuff. You never know who that could be. Surprisingly, for the dark hard boiled/noir I create, some of the nicest, most laid back quiet little mice in the world have told me they love the blood and guts I spew out!
So that means you cannot refrain from publicizing your name in venues you may believe will have no chance of ever creating a fan of your work. You just don't know.
Well, that's it. My five goals that . . . . oddly . . . . sounds more like rules. Forget it; they work for me.
So do your part, me hearties. Buy my 'stuff.' Become a fan. It'll be a two-way street; I'll do my damnedest to keep you a fan with my writing . . .
. . . and maybe you can help me pay my electric bill coming up at the end of this month.