Let’s face it, there are lots of posts out there that will tell you exactly what you need to do to be a successful author. They vary greatly, but they all seem to be built up around the same thing. Structure and need. You need to have a planner, a word count goal, a outline, an editor, beta readers, alpha readers, a blog, a Twitter, a Instagram, a snapchat (by the way, what the hell is that?) and a Facebook. Need. Need. Need.
Well, here’s some news, from me. I don’t need to do any of that. Because I don’t need to write. That’s right, I’m an author and I don’t need to write. I don’t need to do anything I don’t want to do. I started to realize the other day what made me so different from many of the other authors I see and perhaps even talk to and love. I don’t need to write. I’m sure there’s some people out there with their mouths on the floor thinking I’m dissing this whole thing that I do as an author. I’m not. I’ve simply come to terms with the things that set me apart from other authors.
Many other authors have writing as their sole job aside from being a stay at home parent (which is a full-time job in itself), and the stories I see associated with that usually start with I always loved reading and one day I had this idea and started to write. I’m not saying this is a catch all and is everyone’s story. I’m simply saying that I see a lot of that–stay at home moms who had an amazing idea and ran with it, and for them it has become a much needed second revenue stream. So, they find they need to write. They need a planner and an outline and all that other stuff.
I don’t. Because that’s not my story.
I don’t have kids. I have an amazing day job that pays my bills, and that I love. I actually hate the idea of someday not doing that job. I’m a financial marketer–and no, I’m not stuffy, but I am damned determined. For the last five years I’ve been holding a full-time job (of which I’ve worked up to a promotion almost every year), going to college at a part-time plus level AND I’ve published 8 books. I’m not bragging. I’m just trying to explain who I am as a writer and author, and why you will never hear me tell you to do word count, grab a planner, outline and write every day. I haven’t. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a mainstream publisher yet, or maybe it’s because I don’t need one. But I want one.
And I want to write.
I’ve always wanted to write–I didn’t just wake up one day and have an amazing idea and run with it (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This writing thing has been a part of who I am since I was a toddler. I do not remember a moment in my life where I wasn’t a writer. I’m not making this up — by the time I was twelve I was writing full length novels. They probably weren’t the best, but I was writing them–because I wanted to. I’m not going to lie, there was a point when I felt the need to write, and you know what? It sucked. It truly and utterly sucked. I hated the feeling that I needed to write, and it just bogged me down.
When I want to write I get this feeling in my belly that moves up to my brain, and that’s the only time I need to write–because I want to. Because I was born to, and it’s a part of who I’ve been my entire life. When I moved from a writer to an author things did change, though, because as I’ve grown as an author I’ve learned things do make that need easier. One of them being a kind of outline–not the one people are usually telling you that you need to do, though.
It’s kind of a bunch of scribbles in a notebook — more like a wireframe. It has a few keywords linking up scenes to give a general idea for flow. I also have character outlines for some books, but definitely not all. Again basic: name, descriptions and keywords for the characters. These are usually my music books, because bands have way too many characters to remember. I use these as a tool to make my writing quicker and more fun for me. It means I don’t forget all those meaty bits I think of when I’m driving or walking, or doing whatever, because writing is kind of like breathing to me.
Then this year I decided I wanted a planner (which my husband laughed at). I wanted it so that I could mark off certain days for certain posts on my blog, and for writing quick ideas. I’m thinking of it as a wireframe for my writer life. Being a writer is not an active choice I made –it is a part of me that I’ve sometimes hated and sometimes loved. Being an author was a choice, and it’s not a need. It’s a want. I want to share the worlds inside my head with you. I want you to sigh over book boyfriends, and most of all I want you to want to read my books.
And I’m never going to tell you that you need to do anything as a writer or an author.
If you want to use something I do — then do it; not because you need to, but because you want to. This year I’ll be showing you more things I do, but please don’t feel like I’m telling you need to do these things to be a writer or an author. The truth is, you should do whatever inspires you to write and helps you be the best writer you can be, whether it’s poetry, novels or essays for school.
Oh, and if you like my planner — it’s on Amazon. 🙂