See this? This here is the bearded penmonkey who is, in my mind, the whiskey-soaked Yoda to my whiny Luke Skywalker, the cuss-heavy Stranger to my bumbling Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, the shouty Elrond to my somewhat smelly Aragorn, Chuck Wendig. He’s going to give you the secret to successful writing. Lean close. You’ll want to get this down. And all over your face.
Not so hard, is it? So now you have the secret to writing successfully, but I think it takes more than successful writing to be a successful writer. Yes, more rules. And yes, they’re still simple.
Rule 1: Follow Wheaton’s First Law
Don’t be a dick. Period. It’s fun to joke and whatnot, sure, but don’t look to cross lines or get in people’s faces for the sake of a laugh. There’s boundaries people have, and if you stay on the good side of them, chances are they’ll laugh along with the joke and not consider you a hate-spewing douchecanoe. And if you do cross the line, don’t be a dick about it and act all offended. Apologize, find out what went wrong, ensure it won’t happen again, even offer to make amends if you have to. I feel like I’m waxing overlong on what boils down to common human fucking decency, but it’s the age of the Internet and reality shows, sometimes you gotta spell this shit out.
Rule 2: Be Honest
People are going to ask you stuff. They’ll ask where your ideas come from, if you can read their stuff, what your opinion on X is, etc. Be honest with them. Don’t blow smoke up the people who don’t deserve it, and don’t be nice to someone who’s kicking a friend of yours while they’re down. It’s one thing to be honest, though, and another to be overly blunt. Telling someone the flaws in their work is not the same as telling them they suck and should just give up. Basically, be honest, provided you aren’t violating Rule 1.
Rule 3: Do More Than Market
Getting your words sold is great. I don’t have evidence to back this up, but I’m certain that tweeting and retweeting and sharing the same links and incentives and quick pitches sells more books than simple word of mouth. However (and this may just be me), I find that sort of thing really gets old after a while. If all you have to say day after day is how awesome your books are, I may lose interest in your books. I say, switch it up. Reach out to the community. Jump into fun conversations – or start one. Let people know you’re a real human being, not just a marketing bot with your social media login information.
Pretty simple stuff, and I’ll be trying to stick to these as I write as much as I can, write as fast as I can, finish my shit, make my deadlines, and try really, really hard not to suck.
What rules do you think successful writers should follow?