Thursday, January 17, 2013

Consistency: the Most Important Tool

As writers, we are constantly looking for that magic tool to help us attain success. For aspiring writers like myself, "success" means "getting published." For published writers, it probably means selling more copies or being on the New York Times Bestseller list or whatever the personal goal is.

No matter what advice you've been given, it seems to me like it boils down to five basics. Four of them I hear about a lot. The fifth, not so much.

1) Social media. We all have heard about the importance of having a presence on the web to be successful in our careers. So we blog. We tweet. We facebook. We pin. We create websites and work hard to establish and maintain a presence on the web.

2) Networking. It's all about who you know, right?

3) Writers conferences. You gain invaluable knowledge and contacts.

4) Read books on the craft of writing. This includes things like blogs, podcasts, etc. We're all told to read read read these books to help us hone our craft.

But I think the fifth area is the most important of all.

5) Consistency. Set a writing goal and stick with it. Because no matter how many conferences you attend, books you read, people you meet, tweets you send, none of it means a thing if you aren't writing. The only way you will ever get published is if you write.

We focus a lot on honing the craft, meeting the right people, gaining the skills needed. But we don't spend a lot of time talking about the importance of just sitting down and writing. Even if the words suck. Even if you don't want to. Practice at least improves, if not makes perfect. All the knowledge we gain needs to be put to the test. Writing is something you have to do to truly become a master at.

It's easy for me to forget this. Sometimes I get caught up in all the other aspects of writing. Let's face it: all that other stuff is easy. I can hop on twitter and call it "work." But actually writing every day? That's hard. It's hard to sit your butt in that chair and make the words come. At least it is for me.

I've not been as consistent as I'd like to be lately, but I'm going to get back to it. I only have nine chapters left of Wishing on Baby Dust, so I definitely can finish that first draft this month if I just sit down and work.

Things get in the way. I've been so tired lately, and all I want to do when the twins nap is watch TV and relax. But I'm not going to get published that way. I vow to be more consistent this year, and treat writing more like a job and less like a hobby.

Which of these five things do you find the hardest to do? Is it just me that struggles with consistency?



M. R. Buttars said...

I struggle with consistency a lot. My biggest problem is in getting caught up trying to make that one project so perfect, and polished, I forget to write anything else. I'm trying to balance the two better this year. Edit, while writing new rough drafts. We'll see how it goes. :)
Only nine chapters? Pshaw, you'll have that done in no time. ;)

Laila Murphy said...

Ahh this post really rang true. I also struggle to just get the words down sometimes. I feel there is a lot of pressure to engage in social media and build an audience before you have even written your book. Do you think that's the case?

Lindzee said...

Marla, I have the exact same problem. And Laila, I think that is definitely the case. We are told over and over at conferences how important our social media presence is before we're ever even published. It's overwhelming! But seems to be a big deal.

Kami McArthur said...

I've been thinking about this exact same thing, Lindzee. I think social media is attractive in part because it's like we get our own fan club without even having to publish a book, and we get rewards faster than if we sit and write.

I make myself write from 2-6 or 7 every weekday, and sometimes it's really hard! Consistency is hard, but in the end, it's more rewarding.

Lindzee said...

Wow, Kami, that's awesome! I agree that even when consistency is hard, the results are totally worth it. I notice that when I "take a break" from writing for a few days, it takes me a lot longer to get the same number of words written as when I'm being consistent.