So as I go through this whole writing journey, I spend a lot of time observing other authors–be it in person or, more likely, on the internet. I want to know what makes one so successful and the other not as much. What makes one likable and another unapproachable. In other words, what separates the good from the great. And so, based on my very unscientific observations, I’ve come up with my own Ten Commandments. These are the things I’ve seen successful authors do and the things I strive to emulate. So here we go…
1. I will always strive to make the next book better than the last.
This is one that keeps me awake at night sometimes. The desire to make this next book better than the first one, to improve on every new project. We put so much effort into THAT book, you know the one to get the agent and the book deal. It’s the best we have to give on a page. Then the dream happens and you’re faced with book two and oh, you have a time limit this time, and oh if this one tanks, there may not be another book deal. *breathes into paper bag* The best authors out there manage to do this, even on tight deadlines, even when the check is already in the bank. They keep topping their own work.
2. I will not fear risk.
It’s tempting to be safe, to stick to what you know and what you know works. But the best authors don’t just put out book after book that follow the same formula. They take risks, they push boundaries, hell, some of them even test out different genre waters. With no risk, there’s no challenge. Write the stories you want to write. If some don’t work out, that’s okay.
3. I will never believe "I’m the sh*t." Well, at least not for an extended period of time.
We’ve all seen it. The author that hits whatever level and now seems to wear the "I’m the sh*t" tiara. Don’t do it. No matter if you top every bestseller list. It’s okay when you get a good review or hit a list or write a passage that rocks to think to yourself–yep, I’m the shizz nizz, baby. But keep it to yourself–please–and don’t let it go to your head. No one’s that awesome.
4. I shall not wallow in a pool of self-pity and doubt when someone doesn’t like me or my writing.
Someone, probably many someones, will absolutely hate your writing. It’s inevitable. You can’t please everyone. If you let negative feedback get in your head, it will eat away at your confidence like cancer. This goes for rejections too. Feel the sting, eat a piece of chocolate or take a shot of whiskey–whatever you’re preference–and move on.