Six months after turning to freelance writing full-time, I’ve learned some lessons. Mostly about what not to do. Here are ten Don’ts and one Do.
- Don’t blog about writing (hem) when you should be writing. You’re not fooling anyone – you’re playing for time.
- Don’t get two-thirds of the way through the first draft of your novel and then decide to restructure it by spending two months creating a detailed storyboard using balsa wood, different coloured pens, colourful sticky labels and map pins. You are now a storyboard manufacturer, not a writer.
- Don’t re-cut your rejected short story into a radio play just by adding columns and colons. It’s the same story, you idiot.
- Don’t self-promote your novel so much that people start to block you, delete you or apply for restraining orders. Begging random passers-by to read your book is usually counter-productive – and let’s face it, it’s demeaning.
- Don’t kid yourself that an experimental story in which all the characters, irrespective of gender or species, have the same name will ever be read by anyone on this entire planet. It won’t. It will be garbage.
- Don’t begin an editing course unless you want to temporarily inhibit any joy you ever had in writing creatively. You can be an editor and a writer but not both in the same moment. You will implode.
- Don’t study your Amazon sales rankings and compare them to those of other writers you know. It hurts.
- Don’t edit your 5000 word story so that you can enter it into a 500 word Flash Fiction competition. It just doesn’t work. Also, you have lost all your critical faculties and should take a holiday.
- Don’t track your progress on a spreadsheet unless you want to spend all day tracking how far behind schedule you’ve fallen.
- Don’t expect to earn any money at all. Keep telling yourself it’s all about the art.
- Do just write. Every day. As many words as you can. Preferably in the correct order. Occasionally in pleasing combinations. That’s what writers should do. Mostly.