Why Not to Write

IMG_2594 (2)Everyone and their mother claims to be an “aspiring writer”. I’ve written about the idiocy of this term too many times to count, but that’s not the point of this month’s blog post.

Every time I scroll down my Twitterfeed, there’s a thousand and one authors and iAuthors claiming their work is going to be the next Harry Potter/Twilight/Fifty Shades/Gone Girl or whatever the hit of the year is. The truth is— 99% of these people will never see success as an author. You wanna know why? Because, yet again, everyone and their mother and the kitchen sink and Greg down the street and Jennifer from the coffee shop all want to be writers. It’s not just my Twitterfeed; it’s Facebook, that terrifying Real World, other blogs, everywhere. Everyone seems to wanna be the greatest writer eva, they want to be the next Shakespeare. That’s not a problem. Of course not. Writing is an awesome activity; it releases stress, you can change  people, you get to see your own writing in a bookstore or on Amazon, because isn’t that just awesome!? The problem is: Why? Why do most people write?

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How to Not Be Inspired

The internet is full of inspirational quotes designed to get people to whip into action and become the best person they can ever be. By internet, I refer to the Motivational Quotes pages on Facebook, every single creative mind and “guru” on Twitter, and whatever people post to break up the monotony of what they consider sad news.

Inspired yet?

Inspired yet?

Pursue your dream! they squeal. Be yourself; only by being yourself can you truly differentiate yourself. Misappropriated Marilyn Monroe and Dr. Seuss quotes. Don’t be a sheeple! they shout, as they act exactly the same as everyone else. Don’t forget that saying about being in a fishbowl, snowflake.

There’s a reason inspiration is so abundant on the internet. I quote famous people because I believe other people will be inspired by these quotes. Most people quote them to get more retweets and favorites and credibility.

But why?

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The Seven Different Types of Twitter Authors — and How They Fail

7fails

Almost every writer out there thinks there is some sort of trick that will magically transform their manuscript into money and a six-figure movie deal.

The truth is: there’s no such method, and that method  will lead to your madness.

However, what I’ve seen a lot of since I started showcasing my writing back in 2012, is that most writers/authors think they have the solution. And that solution is Twitter. Well, some choose Facebook, a miniscule amount have Instagram and LinkedIn, none of them choose Snapchat—but almost all of them choose Twitter.

If you’re a writer or author, you’ll be friends with those who enjoy the written word and showcase it well, and others who are just—what’s the word?—not real.

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What Makes Us Human Makes Your Characters Stronger

emotions

Emotions can sometimes overwhelm us. Happiness, sadness, anger, jealousy, surprise: these are emotions all human beings (except sociopaths) deal with on a daily basis. It is these emotions that make us uniquely human, for as far as we know, as we don’t know them yet, aliens can’t be included in the equation. At the time, sadness over a death (RIP) or a job loss or whatever; these things affect us like no other creature. When someone is jealous, or depressed, or furious, it takes over all other emotions. As writers, we have to make the most of these emotions in order to create convincing characters, a realistic setting, and a probable plot line. If we’ve experienced something, we know the emotions associated with it. We know how the characters would react.

Throughout my university degree, I was told to write about what I knew. If you wrote about a place you’d never been to before, or about an intergalactic alien battle, you had nothing to base it on—nothing that you’ve properly experienced. Sometimes this can be utterly ridiculous: many writers write about things that have never happened to them. Stephen King never walked from Maine to Massachusetts in a dystopian United States. Chuck Palahniuk probably never set his apartment on fire to escape the so-called American Dream. J.K Rowling didn’t defeat an almost immortal dark wizard when she was seventeen.

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The Harsh Reality About Overly Successful Authors

20140228_010650Over the past few weeks, I’ve been forcing myself to read a hugely successful novel which is absolutely awful. You really can’t criticise something unless you’ve read or watched it. The line gets a bit murky when you head into political and societal issues—see the raging debates between progressives and conservatives, or proponents of the zombie apocalypse and the reptilian takeover.

I found myself questioning why certain books become popular over others, and sometimes the writers question this themselves. Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman for many years, just to see if he could emulate the success story that started with Carrie. J.K Rowling was recently outed as the author of an averagely successful crime novel—which immediately received legions of one star Amazon reviews.

If you want to be the World’s Greatest Author, then how do you get there? Most of the Twitterati, for lack of a better word, would say you need to advertise your awesome ★★★★★book to your 17,051 followers. Others suggest starting a blog, spamming links and suggested posts on Facebook, placing an advertisement on primetime TV, or just waiting for your publisher to do all the dirty work.

The disheartening reality is none of these will work. No matter how hard you try, how much effort you put in, and how much money you spend, most of the time your success relies on both luck and the correct timing.

Many writers are perfectionists, myself included. We can spend hours on our craft, rewriting the same paragraph over and over, and spending weeks—or even months, or years—editing our pieces. We want our readers to have the luxury of reading a good piece, not just something like all the others, unless you’re cashing in on the latest craze (tsk, tsk).

Don’t believe those junk emails you get, or those advertisements that come on at lunchtime alongside the life insurance ones—there is no ultimate formula to success. Sure, some of the tips and tricks might help you get a little bit out there, but it’ll be for the wrong reasons. Who wants to be on a current affairs program because you were scammed out of thousands of dollars?

don't believe

Don’t believe *all* the emails you receive, like this ridiculous one.

I’m not discouraging you from getting your work out there, just realise you’re not the only one trying to do it. There are millions of writers on Twitter, constantly spamming people with book links, as well as heaps of new ‘indie’ and traditional authors on Amazon.

It’s a competitive market we’re in, but don’t let it dishearten you. If you really love writing, you’ll keep at it. Don’t give up!

It’s a difficult world out there, and you just have to keep trying. You can advertise your awesome ★★★★★ book to your 17,052 followers, start a blog and stick to it, spam links and suggested posts on Facebook, place an ad on primetime TV, let your publisher do the dirty work (not recommended), or use your second cousin twice removed (who’s a B-list celebrity) to tout your stuff. Just realise, a lot of people will be annoyed by the constant spamming, but there might be others who’ll see through it all and get to the good stuff.

As I just said, don’t give up! There’s always an audience for what you’re writing, and even poorly written books chock-full of clichés and one-dimensional characters can be bestsellers…

infff

[Insert cliché about success here]