I can’t believe I’m typing this, but it’s been four years today since I published my first book. Where did that time go? Sixty Four romance novels later (what the?) and I feel like the last four years have gone by in the blink of an eye.
Birthdays are a great time of reflection, and I’ve been thinking about what this journey has taught me. So, without further ado, here’s:
FOUR THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN FOUR YEARS.
1. WHEN YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO, IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK.
My doctor asked me today what my hobbies are, and I had to stop and think about that for a minute. There are lots of things I love, like cooking and walking on the beach, but nothing I love so much as writing romance. It’s the last thing I do before bed each night and the first thing I do when I wake up, and I spend the day plotting and tinkering and writing and wishing I was writing when I’m not able to write.
2. DON’T READ TOO MUCH INTO REVIEWS – GOOD OR BAD
I’ve become much better at ignoring reviews – good and bad. It’s hard to write the books you want to write when you have other people’s voices in your head. Not my characters’ voices, but reviewers’. Everyone has opinions, and those opinions are valid, but they’re not particularly helpful when you’re trying to do something creative. I can’t write the story I want to write if I have other people’s opinions swirling around my mind. Nurture the vision you have for a book, protect it from anyone’s bubble-popping until you’re one hundred percent happy with the book you’ve written.
3. WRITING IS A JOB – A *REAL* JOB
This one took me a long time to accept. After all, if you love what you do, can it really count as a ‘job’? The answer is ‘yes’, absolutely, and it’s important to prioritise it as such. I keep a to-do list, and schedule my time, making sure I tick off small tasks in the morning, then hit my daily word count, before returning to some other marketing chores in the afternoon. Anything remaining gets dealt with after dinner, and then, if there’s time, I write a little more before bed. I have to guard my work time fiercely – and this is even more important if you’re juggling writing with another job, or other time-taking family commitments.
4. REFILL THE WELL OFTEN, AND WELL
It’s important to switch your creating-brain off sometimes, and simply soak up someone else’s work. I regularly take a few days to read or watch a TV series or movie (When Harry Met Sally is a favourite of mine!), and find this time my most productive for solving plot problems or hatching new story ideas. I always feel more refreshed when I next return to my work, seeing a project with more clarity.
It’s important to carve out regular breaks, as well. I’m not actually good at this, but I know I write better and feel happier if I force myself to take a weekend with my family- or minimise my work to an hour or two at most.
I guess there’s a lot more I’ve learned along the way – the nitty gritty of self-publishing, the workings of traditional publishing, the pleasure of seeing my book on the shelves of major shopping chains, the joy of knowing people are reading and loving my books, the importance of finding your awesome book tribe and cheering on their successes whenever you can, and the delight of being able to do this for a living …
Thank you for reading my books, and this post! To celebrate my fourth-book-birthday, I have 100 e-copies of THE SHEIKH’S SECRET BABY to give away to the first people to click over and claim!
Love, Clare. x