What’s your goal for 2016? New Year’s provides an opportunity to assess what has and has not worked in 2015 and resolve to make 2016 the best year yet, and for writers this opportunity is especially important. To that end, over the coming weeks I would like to focus on a number of ways in which authors can meet their New Year’s resolutions for and through self-publishing.
This week, I’d like to examine four goals. I’m going to list them here, and then break them down individually–because let’s face it, nothing’s quite so simple as a list of neat bullet points when we’re talking about real life and especially real life for an author!
- Set goals.
- Facilitate goals.
- Make writing a priority.
- Read, read, read.
So, what does it mean to set goals? What are the implications of a goal-driven self-publishing experience? I have to admit, I find it nearly impossible to keep even a modest resolution–much less a lofty one–without clearly defined benchmarks to reach and methods to follow. My first recommendation for you, the aspiring author, is this: If your resolution is to finish your memoir in 2016, make sure you break that resolution down into concrete, manageable steps. If it’s to publish a cookbook, chart out the steps to making that happen. If it’s to pen a romance novella, be sure to go about it in a structured way. Leaving room for creativity in your writing doesn’t mean leaving room for things to fall apart in terms of planning and organization–and in fact, many of the authors I work with find that tangible, manageable goals help rather than hinder the creative process.
On to the second point. What does it mean to facilitate goals. To facilitate something means, loosely, “to make (something) easier : to help cause (something)” to happen, and to remove any hurdles that might prevent you from keeping your resolutions. My job description boils down to facilitation, to helping authors get from point A to point B with the greatest ease and the least inconvenience possible. Your job, as an author, is to make sure nothing gets in the way of your writing–and in the way of your writing reaching your readers. I recommend reconsidering, if time is an issue, the number of hours that you work or your social commitments. You need both time and energy to meet your goals, and those resources don’t just manifest out of thin air. Someone once told me: “I think every person has a kind of emotional budget for the day. You wake up, and you have a certain amount of energy, and you have exactly 24 hours. You have to balance that budget by the end of the day and set up your budget for the next day.” If you spend all of your time and energy on other things, you’ll have–literally–nothing to spare for the writing and publishing processes.
And that third step you already know to be non-negotiable: Make writing a priority. You’ve heard all the tips and tricks before, some of them here on Self-Publishing Advisor: Take a break from TV and social media, and set aside a time to write every day. Whether you post creatively on Twitter or write your spouse a juicy love letter, regular writing is guaranteed to feed your creative side and improve your craft. There are loads of online writing courses and how-to guides to self-publishing available for free these days, and there are online communities and forums dedicated to providing support and encouragement to aspiring authors. Every person will find help from different sources–there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to writing and publishing–but one fact remains true for everyone. There is no cheating when it comes to writing original content; it all has to come from somewhere. And if you don’t carve out room for writing to be a priority … it won’t happen.
And last but not least: Read, read, read. The number one piece of advice best-selling authors offer to other writers is to read as much and as widely as possible:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
— Stephen King
“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
— Ray Bradbury
and last but not least:
“Be awesome! Be a book nut!”
— Dr. Seuss
See what I mean? Reading may be the last item on today’s list of resolutions, but it’s by far the most foundational practice for you to succeed as a writer. Books are your friends, both the ones that you write and the ones that you read, and your fellow book-lovers make the staunchest of allies in a world that can sometimes make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, much less check items off the to-do list and meet your New Year’s resolutions.
But always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎
|ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.|