Things Writers Shouldn't Subscribe To
In the writer world, there are lots of flexes that go on and lots of weird things writers say to show how great they are. As writers, we should know that you SHOW don't TELL. Be honest. I have never done a list before but thought I'd do a semi-list to talk about three things I don't subscribe to as a writer (anymore).
1. The No Sleep Flex
I know, as writers who don't make a living off of writing (yet!), that we ALL have jobs. Yes, plural. More than one. You might be a mom and wife. A husband and provider. You might be one of the lucky ones who makes enough money off of freelancing/ghostwriting/editing and writes for pleasure on the side. Whatever your job(s) are, I know you work hard. I do too. I have two jobs. I have a lot of editing to do and grading and lesson planning on my own time. I also insist on self-time (video games, naps, Netflix, etc.). I caught myself the other day with three novels to suddenly re-edit and submit by December. While of course not skipping NaNoWriMo. I stayed up till almost 4am Saturday night (after a 11.5 hour shift at once of the jobs) to get 4 chapters edited. I was furious with myself.
I see a lot of writers using #NoSleep and other such novelties. They boast about it. It seems that if you are not miserable, you are doing something wrong. Well, there was a hot minute I was excited: I finally joined the ranks of the sleep-deprived writers! But why did I have to stay up late? Because I did not manage my time more wisely. I did not get up early enough to edit before the long shift. I played games online with friends when I got home before I edited. So here's the thing: you have to give things up to be healthy. I will never say it's cool to starve yourself sleep. If you have to give up lunch with the girls, you have to. If you have to give up Netflix hour, you have to. I have to give up TV and a few hours of video games with the guys these coming months so I can get the work I LOVE done. Sucks, but I'd rather be well-rested and alive then subscribe to making myself miserable. It's just temporary. Manage your time, don't boast about how much you suck about getting stuff done.
2. The Tearing Down Of Other Writers
In an attempt to remain professional, I will not use a certain writer who has tried to attack me over social media as an example. I will use myself. It's a funny story too. To me, anyway.
Many years ago, when I was but a young lass of 13 when I was almost finished with my first novel. I started writing it when I was 11 (because Fellowship had just come out, I had just discovered the Renaissance Festival--it was a good time) and was so excited to finish it. My friends read this book about a boy and a blue dragon...and they would not shut up about it. It was amazing! The boy who wrote it was only 17! He was homeschooled (just like me)! Ah, wonder, excitement, yay!
Delighted, I told my friends I too had written a story about dragons and a boy named Glenn. They didn't care. I was furious. I read the book about the boy and his dragon about a year later and was miffed. It sucked. It was cringe and clearly written by a hormonal boy. I was confused. As the years went by, the movie came out, the sequels--all that. I still hated Montana Homeschool Boy and thought his other books were just as bad. I took every opportunity to tear him apart when my friends gushed about him. I did this out of jealousy. I was an insecure teenager. I can forgive my younger self (blue dragon is still not in my top 100 fantasy books though) but I cannot forgive these grown, adult writers I see in my communities. They are acting like a jealous little girl. This kind of thing happens in the Twitch community too. Boys think that those e-girls are taking their views. No, those views were not yours. Those readers are not yours. You have to get your own readers. Supporting other writers, especially fellow small-time, just-trying-to-sell-three-copies writers is important. They are not taking spots that were yours. Support each other. It won't hurt you.
It might just help you.
3. The "Goal" God
I was this person this summer. I wanted to be in ten paying anthologies by the summer of 2020. I still have this goal, but you know what I don't have? Stupid goals that are not helpful. Pushing yourself to write more, better, or more diversly is always good. That's what makes anthologies and writing prompt contests fun. I have one goal to plan, plot, world build and write a quintet. I've never set out to do that before and I want to just to make myself plan that far ahead and that deeply. But smashing out trash just to a story or novel goal is stupid. Word count goals are not stupid. Chapter goals are not stupid. You are working towards something bigger (your chapter, your novel) with purpose. But "I will write two a novels a year!!" and "I will be in 150 anthologies this year!" really don't get you much unless you are a god who can spin gold out of your ass.
Do you know what a good goal is? Doing something new, even if it doesn't get published. Testing your boundaries. Writing in a new genre. Now, don't get me wrong. Publishing goals are great too. I want to have ten books out in the next 4 years and be in ten anthologies a year. But I want them to be good ones. I told my brother the other day that I was no longer writing for every anthology that passed my way. Know why? Because I could feel the writing, stories, and characters getting flat and icky. Don't lie to yourself and say it won't happen to you. Turn out quality work. It will be better than the truckload of utter crap you push out while in a goal frenzy. You are a good writer even if you don't publish every story you write. However, throwing out 200 stories and seeing which ones stick is not the way to do it. Yes, write every day, submit often, but don't get known in the community as the writer who dishes out shit in an ice cream dish and expects editors to eat it up.