Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Few Words to the Wise: Keys to Writing Success

There are a few things I've learned since winning the contest of 2008 and landing a multi-book deal with St. Martin's Press for my YA paranormal series 13 to Life. I figured I'd share some now in response to this week's Sunday Scribblings' prompt: key. These apply to all writing and seem to be key to most of life.

  1. Seek Balance to Maintain Sanity. Okay, this is probably the toughest lesson if you're a writer like me. I am nearly addicted to writing. It's a rush to create worlds and characters--to control their lives and put them through their paces. If I were a politician I might not be a dictator (as I write character-driven stories generally an so believe in a certain undeniable freedom) but I'd definitely be strong arming some folks... But you also need to pull your eyes from the computer screen (or the written page) and actually partake in real life. Which leads us to number 2.
  2. Be an Active Part of Your Life So You Write More Realistically. We write best when we write what we know. This isn't meant to limit our writing, but to enrich it. You don't have to know werewolves or vampires to write them (thank goodness) but you need to study people. Do it by interacting and observing. Savor the experiences (big and small) of your life and then layer aspects of those experiences into your writing.
  3. If You Use a Pseudonym, Choose One We Can Pronounce. We Americans don't like to look stupid. We don't like to stumble over words. This is why my pseudonym is being changed (dramatically) on all my books through St. Martin's Press. Perhaps if I was writing in the UK I'd get to keep Saoirse (which means "freedom", btw). But no. Here it seems to be a psychological stumbling block. So *le sigh* I shall be listed under a far different name (which my agent, a group of bloggers, and I are trying to figure out how best to announce and when).
  4. As a Writer Realize You'll Do Waaay More Than Writing. You must promote yourself and your work. Figure you'll spend between 1-5 hours a week doing promo. Set your Google alerts. Resond to them as soon as you can. Watch for things you can get involved in (I participated in an auction where a winner got to name a horse and rider in book 2 and helped raise money for a good cause). Join a forum or community group or two.
  5. Keep Writing and Learning. This business is about production, quality, promotion and popularity (not necessarily in that order and like most businesses are). Keep your head in the game in order to stay in the game.

What keys to writing success would you share?
Check out other great Sunday Scribblings participants!


Sheila Deeth said...

If I ever get successful...

I'd never even thought about psuedonyms until I went to a writers' meeting and was given a sticky label to write my name on. Straight away someone asked me, "So, is that your name?" and I suddenly realized all these people around me with "Hi, my name is..." stickers we using pseudonyms.

Saoirse Redgrave said...

It's funny, Sheila, when I started using a pseudonym I never imagined how many other people were, too. I actually was chatting with another author I greatly respect through Facebook and she suddenly mentioned in a round about way that what I knew her as was her pseudonym.

It blew me away! There I am incognito chatting to someone else incognito and suddenly wondering--who the heck am I really chatting with? ;-)

Maybe we should all have stickers that read: "Hi, My Pseudonym is... Try and Guess My Real Name" ;-)

Mary Quigley said...

I didn't even think about using a pseudonym. I love my name, and intend to keep it. LOL! Of course, it helps that my name is easy to pronounce.

It's kind of funny that you can't keep your name. My aunt's name was Saoirse, so for me it's easy to say. I guess to others it might be considered a mouthful, though.

Thank for the tips. As a newbie, I always appreciate whatever advice I can get.

gautami tripathy said...

I would rather use my own name..

I hold myself in the doorway

Dee Martin said...

Thanks for sharing these "keys". How do you pronounce your name? It looks lovely and I love the meaning but no clue how it sounds LOL

floreta said...

great advice and take to the prompt. thanks!

Novel Nymph said...

you are right, i had an experience on friday night that has helped propel the story that i was working on. life fuels creativity and you must live it to do write more (and hopefully better).


Saoirse Redgrave said...

Thank you all for popping by to read my blog in answer to Sunday Scribblings.

Yeah, the name change thing's a bummer, but it makes sense with marketing, I guess.

Dee, Saoirse is pronounced (at least around here) "sear-sha" which I think's easy to say, but there does need to be that connection between readability and memory that may get blocked by too many vowels too close together. Eh, live and learn, right? ;-)

Novel Nymph, I agree--live life in order to write it well. Even if we wind up writing aspects of it that we aren't personally familiar with at least our observations of others living their lives will help us get inside similar characters' heads.

Heliotropism said...

Great keys to successful writing. I don't write under my real name for several reasons... I like anonymity and my pseudo name is so much creative, LOL! I do believe the best writing stems from the heart, whether lived or dreamt. When we can envision our writing and watch it play out before our eyes then others will see the passion as well as feel it.

I never worry about who I am talking with and whether they are going by their real name or pseudo name. We can all be talking to under the pretense of real names but the words spoken may not be real at all. I try not to focus on who this person really is based on a name, but rather by what they say and do.

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Excellent points, Heliotropism! I agree--deeds matter more than words all the time. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. :-)