Next week at Farpoint I will be doing a series of panels and workshops on being a writer. As a result, I’ve been giving the subject a fair amount of thought of late so I can sound like I know something useful. This morning, I came across a top ten list from Debbie Millman, a designer who doubles as an executive at Sterling Brands, who recently shared it with the Graphic Artists Guild New York Chapter. In looking it over, I realize this applies to all creators, writers included. You will look at the list and nod a lot, saying to yourself, “I know all this.”
Of course, there’s a difference between knowing this and putting it into practice.
Ten Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Rather Than Later
- If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.
- Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
- Work very, very hard.
- Ask for opportunities.
- Finish what you start.
- Say yes to almost everything.
- Busy is a decision.
- Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream.
- In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one.
- It’s only a failure if you accept defeat.
I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, both on staff and as a writer. I ghosted one of the Time Station Berlin books that Ace put out a million years ago and at the time, I tried a political thriller and while I researched the players in the era, I neglected to complete the task and really research the locale, Berlin, Germany. As it happens, I am currently working on a story also set in Germany and have learned the lesson.
I still have a YA fantasy partially written that pushes me in new directions and is certainly something risky and new for me.
Whenever I surface at the completion of a job, I tend to make a round of contacts, mostly to people I’ve worked with in the past and have remained on friendly terms. While it has not always led to new work, it certainly keeps me on their mind.
I can only think of one time in the last 20 years where I said no to an assignment because the deadline overlapped with an existing work and I was told it couldn’t move. As it turns out, I wound up ghosting two chapters for the book anyway. So, you never know.
I’ve written previously about how I never let defeat slow me down but I can’t say I’ve set out for a remarkable life. Instead, I have built a life and family that sustain me, freeing me to write which in turn lets me work hard, productively using my time.
Give that list a hard look and see how often you address these points.