My Ten Commandments of Authorship

Who’d have thought writing a book was not just sitting down and writing?              

Someone who has never done it successfully.

If you’re new to writing a book as I am, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information available in the blogosphere to absorb. Everyone’s telling you what you need to do and offering many differing versions on how to do it.

I was spending more time reading pro blogs, than I was writing my book. I justified it by telling myself, ‘this is how you learn’. I was right about that. However, I felt I was trying to navigate a maze. You move through it making turn after turn, sometimes hitting a wall. So you back up and find your way to the next turn, always hoping the next will lead directly to the end. It’s always a bit more difficult than you imagined.

In gaining the tools a writer needs to compile a book, you must navigate a different kind of maze. One of rules, advice and lessons. You move from one writer’s blog to a marketer’s blog, to an agent’s blog, toa publisher’s blog, devouring all the material offered, sometimes landing on one that is poorly written or nearly identical to one you’ve already read. You back up and try another avenue, which leads to another and yet another blog you feel you must read.

More! More! Give me more information! I need it! I must have it!

You just keep hoping that you’ll finally gather all the tools and can stop reading blogs, just long enough to write your book! 

The ideas, advice, admonitions keep flying around and around in your brain, until you’ve reached the point of Overload. One more bit of counsel will make your head explode!

You’re speaking a whole new language: blog, social media, protagonist, antagonist, character arc, plot, query,  pitch, voice, POV, MS, WIP, mind-mapping, post, tweet, market, platform, theme, concept, scene, conflict, outline, MC, and the list goes on.

So, what’s a newbie to do?

I created a tool to bring all of that into focus. It works for me and I hope it will give you some clarity and vision. I call it:

The 10 Commandments of Authorship

Building the platform

1. Start early – It takes a lot of time to create the platform. Time for people to find you and vice versa, time to see what you have to offer, and time to develop a friendship-even if it’s a virtual friendship.  

2. Be yourself – You would find it difficult and tiresome to keep up a pretense. then you would be no more than a lie. Just be the wonderful person you are and people will come.

3. Be friendly – Being friendly and open creates trust. Once people trust you, they will want to support you and will buy your book. Also, be sincere. Making false friends to sell your product is wrong and you’ll be the loser in the end. It’s the helpful and supportive writer who gains. 

4. Be organized – Marketing can suck up all your time, if you let it. Make a schedule for blogging and tending to your social networking. Writing your book, must take precedence.

5. Quality, not quantity – Write quality content, even if means blogging less often. Write useful and supportive tweets. You don’t have to ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ everyone. As you list of friends grows, it becomes harder to stay in touch with everyone. I rotate who I look for on Twitter daily. That way I can talk to many followers over the course of a week. 

Writing the book

6. Learn and read – To learn the basics, read a few good instructional books. Find out which are the most revered bloggers and follow them for their experienced outlook and information.

7. Research and observe –  Take the time to do the research necessary to your writing project. Lack of sufficient research can be spotted immediately by an editor. Observe the world around you for ideas and inspiration. Story ideas can come from human behaviors, movie scripts, cultural elements, public events, and even the foods you eat, the books you read, the neighborhood you live in.

8. Write, write and write some more – Write everyday. Remember the adage: Practice makes perfect? You’re writing continually improves as you write more and more. Write your story, your blog, your one-sentence journal, a magazine article, a short story, flash fiction or poetry…just keep writing.

9. Revise, read and repeat – Self-editing is an important skill to master. It has been recommended to self-edit at least three times before sending to professional editors. Send it to several pro editors for a ‘fresh-eyes’ approach.

10. Be patient and be tough – Writing your debut novel should take longer than any subsequent book. You have much to learn and practice. Don’t admonish yourself for not writing as fast as the next person. Traditional publishing is a long process where patience will save your sanity. Giving up would make this all a waste of time. Rejection is a part of being a novelist. Agents, editors and publishers may not want or have time to work with you. It isn’t personal. Keep writing, keep improving. A wise person once said,

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

Don’t expect to be doing as well as published authors with several books on the market. Write at your pace, write a quality book and let it go into the publishing world when it’s ready, and not before.

How do you filter all the information available to new writers?

I love hearing from you and anxiously await your comments! If you haven’t already, please click the Sign Me Up button to receive these posts in your email.

!Announcement! You can find me on Facebook here. Please LIKE my Facebook author page to receive regular updates. When my LIKEs hit 100, I’ll randomly select one person to receive, NY Times Best-selling author, Robyn Carr’s book, Wild Man Creek.


14 thoughts on “My Ten Commandments of Authorship

  1. Pingback: Time Saving Steps for your WIP « Adventures in Full Time Writing

  2. Pingback: Links for Writers: Being a Writer « Writing Life

  3. Marcia, this is a marvelous list of commandments! Thanks very much for sharing them. My favorite part is “Traditional publishing is a long process where patience will save your sanity.” Such an important reminder in this age of instant gratification.

    You will definitely make it. 🙂

    • Patience is not my strong suit, so I am constantly reminding myself what a virtue it is. I figured there must be someone else out there like me!. Thanks for your support, Lisa. it really means a lot!

  4. This is a great list. I’ve often taken what I needed from all the advice and information out there, and while it’s all useful when it comes to craft I see the Malcolm Galdwell observation of 10 000 hours being applicable to writers.

  5. Love your commandments; wise advice. I also know the feeling of being overwhelmed by the information overload; I have days when I feel anxious that all the important info is ‘scrolling past me’ on Twitter or Facebook; I’m afraid I’ll miss my crucial networking opportunities that ‘serious authors must have to build a social media platform’ if I don’t keep up, and all of a sudden, the day is over and I’ve written nothing except Tweets. I will keep these commandments in mind as I work on finding that balance.

    • Isn’t it awful? I spent more time on social media than writing, too. I guess it’s all a matter of discipline. I wish we had a Discipline Store where I could get some. Thanks for coming by Krisitn

    • It is tough. With Twitter, it’s really hard to get people to talk to you. I think it’s best to start out in a group like #amwriting or #mywana. It’s seems easier to follow the conversations and then comment. If there’s anything else you’d like me to address, please let me know here in the comments or email Happy to help.

  6. I would add a crucial 11th and 12th….network with very good writers, some of whom may have published a few books already and who may be willing to share their wisdom; attend good writers’ conferences where, again, you will meet and get to know fellow writers who are ambitious and talented.

    For all the data floating around the Internet, you need people you trust who have already written books to help you make sense of it. I’ve published two NF books and a friend just sent me her NF book proposal and asked me to blurb it; other fellow writers have featured me on their blogs or reviewed the latest book for national publications. You need a network!

    • I agree. Those are very important, too. They’re on my Life List for the upcoming 12 months. Life List Club is a writer’s project kicking off on Friday. We’d love to include you, if your interested. You have an awesome blog! I’m a huge fan of NF and your book sounds right up my alley, Caitlin. Since you’re a baby boomer like me, I’d love to have you guest post here. If it sounds like something you’d like to do, we can discuss it further via email. Look forward to hearing from you and thanks so much for coming by!

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