As we say a final goodbye to 2018, may I say a very sincere thank you for all your help and support over the this last year. Every review you have written for me has been truly appreciated, and where would I be without my wonderful beta and pre-publication readers? Everyone of you is truly valued.
2018 raced by at an alarming rate. I appreciate that time appears to get faster with increasing age, but this year flashed by in such a whirl, I could swear I must have slept through a whole month without realising it! In writing terms, I seem to have so little to show for it – in fact, absolutely nothing in the last six months! But, with no more cruise lectures in the offing and Christmas celebrations now over (so no more baking, card making, present buying or major house cleaning to worry about) no more excuses – it’s time to get writing again.
At the start of a new year, writers often take themselves in hand and review/re-establish their writing goals. One year, I meticulously worked out a spreadsheet for myself to keep records on average daily/weekly/monthly word counts, monthly marketing goals and programming in regular blogs and Facebook posts. It didn’t take long for it all to go to pot. The writing side worked but the marketing went badly awry by the middle of February!
This year I’m contenting myself with good intentions. I’ll try my hardest to write and publish another book this year (that’s a possibility if I can manage to come up with a plot) and I’ll try my hardest to get to grips with twitter and Amazon advertising etc, but I’m not making myself any promises. Life is far too short to waste time feeling guilty about my lack of technical prowess. With two degrees and a string of letters after my name, I should be able to get to grips with the social media skills that five-year-olds appear to master after five minutes, but is it really worth beating myself up about it? I know it would help to make me considerably more visible and advertising might help sell more books, but have I got the patience to struggle with these new skills?
Last August, when I was at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, following the example of a writer friend, I made a resolution to spend the next year getting to grips with marketing instead of writing the next novel. It seemed a good idea at the time. (Note to self – must check up on how she’s doing. She’s very disciplined so she’s probably well into it.) I love giving talks and presentations, I can cope with a monthly blog, but the whole social media side fills me with horror. I will try to do more on Facebook – I’ve sadly neglected even that these past few months – and I’m prepared to commit a couple of hours a week to trying to master the rest, but that’s as far as it goes. Yes, I’m well aware that established authors claim that a writer needs to divide their time 50/50 between writing and marketing, but I didn’t become a writer to spend half my time struggling with things I really don’t enjoy. I love writing – I write to please myself. Yes of course I want others to read and enjoy my books. The sense of elation, pride and intense satisfaction I get when total strangers write amazing 5* reviews of my books on Amazon is worth all those hours tapping away at my PC and agonizing over plot twists while I’m in the shower, scrubbing the floors and cleaning the loos etc. (Writing really does take over your life.) I’ll never be a Joanna Penn, Nick Stevenson or Mark Dawson and quite honestly, I wouldn’t want to be. I’ve learnt to be happy as I am.
My advice for 2019 to the writers among you is to decide why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. If you want to make a living at it then you have no choice – it’s the 50/50 model for you. If the next mortgage payment doesn’t depend on your sales figures, decide on how you really what to spend your precious time. If you only want to write for yourself and are not bothered by sales, just go for it. If you fall somewhere between the two, as most of us writers do, then plan your writing life accordingly.
It you’re the type who loves to plot and lay out a detailed plan for each month in 2019 then go for it. If you know you’ll fall at the first hurdle, don’t set yourself up to fail. It’s a policy that works for life in general. We all need our dreams and ambitions – to stretch ourselves to reach our full potential – but life is first and foremost to be enjoyed not ground down doing things you don’t want (at don’t really need) to do. Count your successes – don’t set yourself up to fail.
Have a wonderful 2019. May all your hopes be fulfilled and your dreams come true. Enjoy!