Hey, everybody. Great to be here on A Slice of Orange. Some of my favorite people can be found at OCC/RWA.
Iâ€™ve been asked to write the first Advice to Me as a Newbie post. Iâ€™m honored and Iâ€™ll do my best. But this could be long, folks. After all, Iâ€™ve got the first installment and nobodyâ€™s taken all the good ones yet.
Here I am: Newbie. Love the hair. And get a load of those shoulders! Pads, people. Those were so the days.
And looking at me thenâ€¦le sigh. I sold my first book on my own and then I hooked up with my first agent, the lovely Pat Teal. Pat was the one who told me, â€œChris. You donâ€™t have to be alone.â€ Because, I swear, until Pat, I didnâ€™t know about RWA! So I joined OCC. There, in the back room of a Sizzler restaurant, I found a whole bunch of amazing like-minded women to share with and learn with. There, I joined my first plot groupâ€”you know who you are! So. My first bit of advice is patently obvious:
1. Get outta the houseâ€”and your own headâ€”now and then. Join a RWAâ€”or whatever writerâ€™s group fits your passion. And participate. Learn! Grow! Share information! Okay, okay. Too many exclamation points. But you get my drift.
And point number one leads me directly to 2 and 3, which areâ€¦
2. Make writer friends suitable for a long writing life. This is a necessity. Find other authors you like, admire, want to learn from, haveâ€¦chemistry with. Build trust and long-term relationships with said authors. Because things will get rocky, folks. Things will get ugly. You need someone you can call when that happens. You need friends you can cry to, friends you can admit your deepest self-doubts and jealousies and pettiness to. Friends to whine to. You need friends who will love you and respect you and help you get through the tough times, no matter how unattractive and needy you are at those times. And you also need someone you can crow to when you triumph. Some moments in a writerâ€™s life are only meant to be witnessed by true friends. Find those friends. And whatever kindness and love they give you, give it back a hundredfold.
3. Reach out a hand. Support beginning authors. Go with your gut on this. Do what feels right to you: judge contests, give the occasional critique. Itâ€™s not a matter of owing it having to. Itâ€™s a matter of passing the goodness along.
4. Fill the Well. The creative well. Itâ€™s not necessarily bottomless, though it can be if you keep replenishing it. Have artist dates, with yourself as a creative individual. Whatever floats your creative boat. Coffee at Starbucks, watching the people; a movie that calls to you, as a writer. A trip to a location youâ€™ll use in you book. Itâ€™s not what you do to fill the well, but that you fill it.
5. Nurture the body. Eat well. Exercise. Get a good writing chair and a keyboard that doesnâ€™t strain your hands. Taking care of the equipment is so important. You only get one set and you wonâ€™t last in this career if youâ€™re in pain or ill. It takes stamina and strength to write good books over a long career. The condition of your body is going to matter, bigtime.
6. Get a life. Writing is your passion, but itâ€™s not your whole life. Love, live, take care of your family, party hearty now and then. Being able to say, â€œIâ€™m an author,â€ is a wonderful thing. But thatâ€™s by no means all you are.
7. Center yourself daily. Meditation, prayer. Whatever name you want to give it. Just as you need a life and to fill the well, you need a place to take your mind and heart thatâ€™s outside of your ambition and your day-to-day trials and tribulations.
8. Set goals. Break them down into tasks. Accomplish these tasks. Do this daily. And you will amaze yourself with all that gets done.
Newbie self, I could go on and on. But start with the above. Itâ€™s going to be a grand adventure. Savor every minute.