humor / writers tips

12 Survival Tips for Writers

I’m excited to join Raimey Gallant’s #AuthorToolbox monthly blog hop (third Wednesday of each month) with the theme of resources/learning for authors. Post are related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful. We share our experiences as it relates to these topics. Interviews are also permitted as long as they provide valuable knowledge for authors (i.e. advice.) Straight book reviews are not permitted unless they are reviews of books about writing/publishing/etc.

This month: 12 Survival Tips for Writers

As I get ready to launch my next fiction book, Survival of the Fittest, I can’t help but wonder how we-writers survive–keep publishing one book after another, hoping for that blockbuster but settling for whatever fate doles out. Clearly, it’s not about getting famous or rich. It’s something else I can’t quite quantify.

Having said that, what keeps me going? Here are twelve tricks I use when I get stuck, blocked, discouraged, or f****** p****** off that nothing is going as planned:

  1. I HODL which is nothing like Yodel. It’s my husband’s acronym for Hold On for Dear Life. If I hang a sign around my neck saying, I’m HODLing. Leave me alone, he avoids me.
  2. I remind myself that writing is like a race car with blinkers. I must move the plot quickly and aggressively but with purpose. Every once in a while, I must alert the reader (that’s where the blinkers come in) to what’s coming next.
  3. Every book needs a Goldilocks character–one that is not too smart ( so s/he doesn’t overshadow the main character), not too dumb (so s/he doesn’t bore the reader), but extremely effective in keeping the plot going.
  4. When coloring between the lines doesn’t work, I try a bigger paintbrush. What I mean is, when those multitudinous rules about genre writing bog my story down, it’s time to try breaking the rules.
  5. WRITERI never forget Mark Twain’s critique of the famous James Fenimore Cooper: “A tale should accomplish something and arrive somewhere. But the “Deerslayer” tale accomplishes nothing and arrives in air.” Good reminder–I’m not talking about the writing criticism. I mean that one of the most accomplished writers ever still fell short in at least one reader’s eyes.
  6. My husband used to kill flies by snapping them with his fingers. Then he got old(er), tired of his miss rate, and switched to a dishrag. Here’s what that metaphor means to me: If something that used to work no longer does, change it.
  7. Every once in a while, I sit in a hard chair and reflect. I don’t do this one often.
  8. Before I read reviews, I don my body armor. If it’s nasty, I dismiss it with, “Well there it is, the stupidest thing I’ll read all day.” Or, here’s a solution from one of my Tweeple: “Wisdom is difficult to define but I think I know it when I see it. I ain’t seeing it here.” Umm, if you wrote that, please tell me so I can give you credit.
  9. I pick carefully who I trust about my writing. That’s also my attitude toward trusting boneless fish. Or (as another efriend once wrote), gas station sushi.
  10. Few care whether I overcome or succumb. I just need to pick one and move on.
  11. Writing is entertainment. It doesn’t make me famous, sell books, or make people like me better. Well, maybe that last…
  12. For difficult days, I don my I Am a Writer t-shirt, take half a baby aspirin, and howl at the detractors.

BTW, I’d love help launching my book starting March 7th. Here’s the link to signup. I’ll give you everything you need. To promote you, I’ll post your blog and a link, to entice click-throughs. Here’s a link with more information.

If you RT, FB, or share, I’ll send positive thoughts your way for a full day!

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning


86 thoughts on “12 Survival Tips for Writers

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  6. Hi Jacqui – love your HODL sign – we need an emoji! We just need to wear flexible armour … always adjustable to whatever is thrown at us … husband must be getting scratchy as launch time is near … I may be emailing you … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just got Survival of the Fittest up on Amazon as a print book–Yay! It’s a first. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be so will go back and get the rest up too.

      Of course, that means I’m not writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: #AuthorToolboxBlogHop: 12 Survival Tips for Writers – darkofficehumour

  8. Such a serious, realistic but also light hearted post at the same time, Jacqui. There’s so many ways we can try to get motivated to write more. Really like the one where you say writing is like a race car with blinkers – aggressively but with purpose. That reminds me of how I like to write with intent; putting in enough detail so as to capture the reader but at the same time holding back some detail and saving that for the punchline or twist at the end.

    The sitting in the chair point also resonated with me. I reckon I do it more often than you. Most of the time when I get stuck writing a sentence or a section I am drafting, I stop and sit back in my chair. I might then listen to my music more intently (I listen to music while writing) and let my mind wander. Sometimes I never come back to writing for that day lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love the rules (especially the one about gas station sushi)!

    Mark Twain’s comment is funny. It shows people have been over long, descriptive writing that goes nowhere for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mmm. At the end of the day all anyone else ever sees or knows is the story we share. How we get there, the tricks and scaffolding we use, are never known, unless we choose to share those as well.
    In some cases I’ll write the bad, cliche story that I “need to write”, and then I’ll move on to writing the story that others want to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “a race car with blinkers,” now there’s a colorful image.

    I definitely agree with you about rules. One of my first writing instructors used to teach us that the point of learning the rules is knowing when and how to break them, so that only you do it intentionally, and with purpose. That way the audience will trust that there is a purpose, and look for meaning, instead of assuming that the writer just made a mistake.

    And I have to agree that if something doesn’t work, try something else. I think that’s part of why blogging and reading books on writing is a good idea (in moderation). One never knows when the tried and true methods may fall short, and something new will be needed to reignite the writing fires.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jacqui, these are terrific and should be on every writer’s wall! I have a feeling you’ve starteda HODL movement here on WP, an acronym that should/will be widely adopted!

    You’re doing great … soon the release of your new ‘baby’ … and time off for a little celebration, I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. These are such good tips, I think I’ll post them in my office. And I’m making a HODL sign – for when all I want to do is huddle under the covers.

    I think you’re getting a tougher skin, Jacqui – probably serves you well in this business. Ignore the bad reviews – why does anyone bother to write something like that?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Some very useful thoughts in this list. I’m more and more inclined to think that the most important is 11. I turn to fiction firstly for entertainment – anything else after that is a bonus.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I love your advice with all of these, Jacqui – the metaphors and the explanations. I particularly love this one: “Wisdom is difficult to define but I think I know it when I see it. I ain’t seeing it here.” Best wishes for your launch. Keep on writing!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I need a HODL sign 🙂
    Awesome tips here, particularly the reminder that a tale should accomplish something and arrive somewhere! I need to remember that as I try and sort out my plot!

    Liked by 3 people

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