Before I wrote my first book, there was exactly one thing I knew about being an author: I said I would never become one. I probably should have learned the whole ‘never say never’ thing by then, especially since breaking the rules is something I had come to enjoy as I walked proudly in the male-dominated world of entrepreneurship.
So, when I emerged into the book publishing world and released, “How Are You, Really?”, I knew I’d be breaking some of the unwritten, and often unspoken, rules of being an author. I wanted to be an author my way — forge my own path, create a book that is exactly the one I wanted to make and live out the journey in a way that was true to me.
And while I broke a few rules that were handed to me and truly did my thing (I’m so glad I did!), I learned along the way a different set of rules: personal ones. They’re the ones that the publishers and marketers don’t tell you about — the ones that have helped me navigate the process of becoming, and owning, that role of being an author. It’s a role I love owning!
If you’re a hopeful author (maybe right now you’re remembering the manuscript you were working on 2 years ago that never saw the light of day), I bet you’re going to break a few of those rules and create your own, too. Today, in the hopes of inspiring you to pursue your dreams as an author, I’m sharing the 5 things I’ve decided I’ll never do to ensure that I remain true to myself throughout the writing process!
And if you’re not sure whether or not you’re an aspiring author, here’s a post I wrote on why you should write a book in 2023!
#1. I’ll never compromise my writing style for the sake of marketability.
As an author, one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your readers is staying true to your voice and writing style, even if it means that your work may not appeal to everyone. When the idea of a book first nudged its way into my brain (and when I finally listened), I wasn’t just surprised that a book was beckoning me. I was surprised that, once I started to get my vision out of my brain and onto paper, I wasn’t going to write a book about business.
I took a moment to be sure and then dove in. I knew the people who expected a business book might squint a little at my book at first, but I trusted that this was the writing that needed to come out of me. And the best part? I didn’t have to fake a single word! Here’s the truth: you can’t write for everyone. It’s not even possible. So, write for you and the rest will follow.
#2. I’ll never stop reading.
I firmly believe that reading is essential for writers to stay inspired, learn from other writers, and improve their craft. I keep my current books on my nightstand (like I’m the main character in a Nora Ephron film) and reach for my latest adventure before I drift to sleep every night! But there have admittedly been days, weeks, and even months of my life where consistently reading wasn’t a priority of mine. As I challenged myself to return to that habit, I rekindled my love for reading faster than you can say “plot twist.” For the last few years, letting my habit for reading grow has expanded my creative mind, too. As an author, my advice to would-be or even experienced authors is to never stop challenging yourself to keep reading, even outside of your preferred genre, to keep that brain on its toes!
#3. I’ll never write just for the money.
This one feels so straight from my gut that I’ll keep it simple. While it’s important to earn a living as a writer, writing solely for the money can compromise the quality and integrity of your work. You should write because you have a passion for it, not just for financial gain. This is why I wrote before I ever had a book deal to save me from the pressure of writing a book that didn’t feel true to me. I know this is easier said than done, but if you care about your work, this is a boundary you’ll hold tightly to!
#4. I’ll never neglect the editing process.
While I’m catching myself hunting for typos in the previous paragraph, it leads me back to the long and important journey that was the editing phase of my book. Editing is a crucial part of the writing process, and neglecting it can result in a subpar final product. I had to call in a lot of help to make sure my words fit well together. I could do the work to get what I wanted to share out of my brain and into a google doc, but like most authors, I was too close to my work (and I wanted to be!). Having a trusted and tight-knit editing team helped my words and stories weave together into a work I can really be proud of. Take the time to edit and revise your work thoroughly, and hire a professional editor to help!
#5. I’ll never let criticism discourage me.
Writing is a subjective art form, and not everyone will love your work. I experience this with everything I create, and even every post I share on social media. Part of what we do as humans is to attract the right people in — into our communities, our lives, and even our creative work! As a natural flip side to that, we repel the wrong people in the process. Criticism is going to come, especially as more people read your words. But there will be criticism as long as there is art. Be prepared to receive criticism and, when possible, use it as an opportunity to grow and improve, rather than letting it discourage you.
Now, I’m not sealing these rules in stone. I am prone to change and that’s honestly something I really love and appreciate about myself! As I grow into my life as an author, I may decide to add to this list. And that’s the beauty of being creators, artists, writers, and people who see a blank page as an opportunity. We take ideas, break them, and build them into something new!
Want to read the stories that turned a ‘never’ into a big, life-changing ‘YES’? Grab the book that made me an author and a New York Times Bestseller!