Beyond the skill and love of writing, there’s something more important. If you’re going to be a published author with staying power, you need some DICK.
Settle down and bear with me. DICK stands for:
Determination, Independence, Compassion & Knowledge.
(Get your mind out of the gutter – where it’s having a faaaaaaabulous time with mine!)
Determination. You’ve heard it before but it cannot be said enough. You get into the business of writing, you better be determined to keep at it, NO MATTER WHAT. Put on you perseverance pumps and your best resilient red lipstick because this industry will mow you down if you let it. Do not let it. Remember everyone goes through the valleys of darkness (yes, valleys, plural), even your very favorite NYT Best Seller. She or he probably considered quitting when their sales dipped or their contract wasn’t renewed, or their sub genre glutted, etc. etc. Here’s a little secret: everyone has considered quitting at some point. Probably a few times, but guess what. They didn’t. That’s why they’re still around, putting out books.
Real life will get in the way of writing, and sometimes you must let it. We will go through times when writing simply has to be put on hold in order to deal with bigger issues. Other times, you have to power through and write anyway. I’m currently writing the opening of book 3 and this blog post on my phone as I sit at the gas station around the corner from my house. Why? Because the people looking at my house still haven’t left and if they’re going to put in a purchase offer, I’m certainly not going to rush them. So here I sit. Me, typing on my phone and my son with his iPad, looking like we’re casing the joint because we’ve been here half an hour yet haven’t left the car. At the moment, my real life is a tornado of house showings, keeping my house tidier than I ever keep it otherwise (seriously, you could eat off the floor right now) a book deadline, day job projects, and wondering if and when we’ll sell or find a home, etc. etc. I know we will, but these ‘tween times ain’t easy. And still, the earth keeps on turning and I’ve got to keep on writing, just like you. 😉
Independence. Here’s something you may not know as a newbie author. Your agent or editor, amazingly fabulous though they are, cannot always be there for you for every little thing. Your critique partners, while THE best, most coolest people you know, have books and lives of their own. Sometimes you’ve got to go it alone. You’ll need to make a judgment call, turn in a novel that hasn’t received critique, think up a book title, resolve an issue – all of it, by your self. It’ll be scary, but I promise, you can do it.
Compassion. For yourself and others. For yourself, ease up on the harsh judgment. Maybe you didn’t write 2,000 words today. Hell, maybe you didn’t write 2. That’s you okay. Go get ’em tomorrow tiger! For others, realize they may be in the middle of a shit storm you can’t even fathom. If someone’s behavior is less than stellar, maybe cut them a little slack. But if they’re consistently horrible, that’s a whole other story.
Knowledge. This business is constantly changing. Uuuuugh, that sounds so trite, but it’s also true. Publishers close, new house lines open, editors move, sales trends change monthly/daily. Arm yourself with knowledge. Stay plugged in via a writer’s group, blog or loop, Twitter or Facebook or whatever. Stay informed so you aren’t left with your mouth hanging open like a fly catcher the next time some big news rocks publishing.
I hope this insight helps (and made you smile at least a wee bit). Just remember, whenever the going gets tough, think about DICK.