Which One Are You?
The topic for this blog hit me as I perused the same ol’ same ol’ of “how to” articles/posts: how to make an infographic for your website, how to not suck at marketing, how to earn more with CPC (click to pay ads) on FB or Amazon, etc. There’s a proliferation of knowledgeable (and not-so-much-so) bloggers and authors out there in digital space eager to share what they’ve learned from their successes and mistakes.
But at what point can I/you turn away from all the “do-this-if-you-want-this-result” advice and blaze my/your own trail in the world of writing/self-publishing? Looking back over the last thirteen years (I self-published my first book in ’07), I have learned more on my own.
Considering that one of my books (published in ’16) still sells monthly, I’d say that makes me a trailblazer.
In reading some of these articles/posts, it struck me that one writer’s path to success is not necessarily another’s. Just because Joe Author found a way to get a gazillion hits on his website and Jane Writer discovered the “secret” to successfully marketing her book doesn’t mean we have to follow in their paths (copycat).
Yet there is validity in much of the shared successes by authors online. It’s always been a good idea to learn from others’ experiences, both successes and mistakes. What’s vital is knowing when that information will benefit you and your writing business.
Good But Not How-to Advice
Take, for example, George R. R. Martin, famous for his Game of Thrones series/movies. Instead of providing a bunch of ‘how-to’s’ he offers up his personal approach to writing/telling stories. This personalizes the writing experience. Many writers can identify with what George experiences when he writes. This kind of ‘experiential’ advice seems more powerful, more useful, to me. And perhaps to you, as well. These are some of my faves, as I can identify with what he’s talking about:
“I end each chapter with a cliffhanger, resolution, a turn, a reveal, a new wrinkle … something that will make you want to read the next chapter of that character.”
“I want a story to take me to a place that I’ve never been to before and make it come vividly alive for me.”
“It doesn’t matter what the scene is. You can see it and you can hear it, but you’re still staring at a blank screen. That’s the nuts and bolts of writing.”
“I’ve never been a fast writer, and I’ve never been good with deadlines.”
“One of the big things that distinguishes the strongest fiction from writing that’s perhaps without depth is a real understanding of what real human beings are like.”
In the end, what it comes down to is doing what’s best for you and your stories. Follow someone else’s lead if it will bring you somewhere you need to go. Otherwise, blazing your own trail in the writing/publishing world, while it may prove daunting, will most certainly bring you to triumph albeit via a bumpier road. The bumps and bruises I gained along the way are mine and mine alone; better for me to trip up myself than for someone else to do it. That’s what makes me a trailblazer.
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