New year’s resolutions for writers (or how not to be a dick at networking events)

New Year’s resolutions. We love to love hating them. And yet each year, once the Christmas dust has settled, we begin to ponder on just how many of them we can make and subsequently break. Because the essence of a good new year’s resolution appears to be its inherent lack of achievability. Authors are no different. So, what exactly might a set of halfway relevant resolutions look like for the average author? Here’s my take…

Procrastinate in a more efficient manner.

Procrastination and being an author go hand in hand. Every author I know goes through phases when literally anything is preferable to opening up the laptop and staring at that giant unblinking eye. Anything. Reading the backs of toilet products whilst sitting on the pot. Watching endless reruns of Big Brother. Poking your eyes out with a spoon. There is another school of thought, however, that suggests that these bouts of vegetative nothingness are essential to the creative process. Leaving the field fallow and all that. The trick is to find a way to scrape yourself out of that protracted brain slump and get back on the horse. In 2019, resolve to ‘make procrastination great again.’

Stop being such a dick at networking events.

We all know that writer. You know the one. Turns up for an author social armed to the teeth with beautifully embossed visiting cards – book jacket on one side, meta-funny mankini author pic on the other – and proceeds to ‘work the room’. Barging into the middle of conversations, interrupting, talking over, and generally making themselves as welcome as a bout of gonorrhoea. All to tell you what they’ve written, what they are doing, and how they’d love to connect with you. A quick clammy handshake, a blast of beery breath in the face, and they’re off to accost the next hapless victim. There is nothing wrong with socialising and telling people about what you do as an author. But you are not auditioning for ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People, The Movie’. It’s light touch. In 2019, resolve to be natural. To be yourself. (Unless yourself is the dick described above.)

Be more understanding of your agent, editor and publicist’s constraints.

Authors are needy people. The world always revolves around them. How many times have I heard the refrain that my agent/editor/publicist doesn’t love me, doesn’t cuddle me enough, is spending all their time with that big knob with the la-di-dah multiple bestsellers. It’s time to get real. Agents, editors and publicists are human (most of them). They have only so many hours in the day and they have to operate a process of triage to get the best out of their time. Some authors need more handholding, some less. Some a cup of tea and a shoulder to cry on. Some need a club to the head. In 2019, resolve to think more kindly of this holy trinity.

Spend less time on social media.

With everyone telling you that an author MUST be out there whoring themselves day and night on the twit-face-blog-o-sphere, it soon becomes an addiction. Like any crazed meth fiend you become jittery if you don’t get your fix. And once you are sucked into the matrix it’s oh so hard to pull yourself out. Click leads to click, tweet to tweet, and before you know it hours have been misspent looking at pictures of cats hilariously spooning with hedgehogs or joining in twitter rants about hip hop star battles where someone called someone else something that you don’t actually even understand. The Internet is incredible, and has changed our world. In 2019, resolve to use it a little more wisely.

Pat yourself on the back.

An author’s output matters. To someone. Somewhere. Even if only six people read your last book, you have fundamentally altered their lives. For those few brief hours they were absorbed in something you created. You rocked their world. (Hopefully.) Own it. You are a writer. Published or unpublished doesn’t matter. So toot your horn. Get out there and tell people you are an author. Buy a sandwich board if you feel like it and stick it on there in great neon letters. In 2019, resolve to be proud of your writing accomplishments, be they ever so humble.

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