11 Things I Have Learned from Writing and Publishing Minor, Novice, & Limbo
By Meghan McDonnell
In December, I published Minor, Novice, and Limbo, the first three titles in an ongoing series of journals I have been writing for the past 28 years. Here is what I have learned:
- No one gives you time; you have to take it. This is deceptively challenging. Sometimes, you find yourself so deeply in the mode of editing, writing, or researching publication and marketing that nothing prevents you from getting it done. Other times, you would rather be watching a flick or having a beer with your beloved or friends instead. But even people who love you and support your writing can convince you to work less and stop being so obsessive. Don’t listen to them. Keep working.
- You can feel down, unmotivated, unclear, etc. but most likely you know what you need to do to move forward with your manuscript. For me, this means copious list-making. I have lists for overall/long-term goals, broken down by month, week, and day. Breaking these overarching milestones down into manageable steps is essential. If I don’t, I get paralyzed by the overwhelming amount of things I need and want to accomplish.
- Set really large goals. Initial momentum will carry you through to accomplish more than you otherwise might had you never set the goal to begin with. A footnote to this is to set tiny, ridiculously achievable goals like items that take anywhere from two to 10 minutes of your time to give you a sense of productivity.
- Remember what you’re doing and why. Reassessing wtf your book(s) is all about and what it means for your readers and your own life can keep you grounded and determined when fear, insecurity, and inertia threaten to derail you. Stay with the essence and the purpose that got you writing in the first place.
- Be discerning in who you share the process with. Other writers get it; good partners get it (mostly); good friends and family members get it (kinda; they also think you’re a little nuts). Refrain from sharing your project, ideas, and dreams with just anyone. Negative Neds and Nellies are everywhere. Run far away from them at any hazard (this pertains to life in general just as much as it does to writing).
- Remember you are a human being as well as a writer. Writers are compelled by nature – curious, inexhaustible, and hard-working. Create habits that support your vision and establish a baseline discipline that produces results for you. That said, you don’t need to sweat yourself if you take a day once in a while when you’re off the job. Stay sane (when possible). Your motivation won’t flag if you take one day off, especially if you have tapped into the incessant well within and developed a schedule to keep you on track.
- Most things take longer than you expect (writing, transcribing, editing, etc.). Accept it. Roll with it. Give thanks when things go smoothly and get done on time.
- Love what you do. Make sure you enjoy most aspects of writing and publishing if you want to make a living out of it. Any job, even the most amazing ones, come with resident irritations and setbacks. If you can even learn to love and embrace those, you’re golden.
- Writing can be highly emotional and you may experience the gamut: joy, frustration, terror, elation … It’s okay and you’re probably not insane, even if it feels like it sometimes. Do your best to harness those emotions, your heart and soul, and your passion and put them into your writing. Then try to remember to de-emotionalize the process of marketing and promotion, confident in the quality of your book(s).
- Finishing the process of creating your book (writing, editing, formatting, cover design, etc.) and publishing it is only the beginning. Getting it into the hands and lives of as many readers as possible is the next task and if you believe in your book, that task should never end.
- The only way to “fail” is to stop writing and stop promoting. It’s all about the long haul.
Meghan McDonnell lives in Walla Walla with the man she loves. When she’s not writing or reading, she spends time outdoors, solves crossword puzzles, and pretends to garden. You can visit her blog at http://meghanmcdonnell.blogspot.com/ and find here on Twitter here:https://twitter.com/MegMcDonnell. Her books are available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595439
Minor is the first installment of the personal journals in which, for over 20 years, writer Meghan McDonnell has chronicled her life beginning at age eight through present day. With searing candor and tenderness, her musings on daily life and observations of family, social and romantic relationships coalesce in a commentary on growing up, facing down passion and fear, and American life in the 21st century. Wide in scope and vivid in detail, her journals are her confessional love letter to the world. Join her on a fearless, vulnerable, sometimes painful and quixotic, but always honest journey, also known as the human experience. Readers who love Cheryl Strayed or Karl Ove Knausgaard will enjoy this author.
Volume one spans her eighth year through age 17; reflections on family, friendship, education, a stint at survival camp and coming of age.