How To Be A Perfect Author

In order to be the perfect author, you must sit your butt down in a chair every single day and write, even if it’s only a sentence or two. But not every single day because an author must also live a full and meaningful life, and chaining yourself to a rigid schedule like that might actually be hindering you. You must also visit social networks every single day and stay on top of the publishing scene. If you don’t know what’s going on out there, how do you expect to be successful? But don’t overdo it because if you spend too much time online, you will be distracting yourself from your true vocation of writing.

Once you are published, you must not read your reviews. You must stay off Goodreads and must never check Amazon rankings or BookScan numbers. But again, you really should be in touch with readers and know their true reactions and feelings for your writing. Interacting with only diehard fans who find no fault in your writing is not going to help your writing. After all, how are you supposed to improve if you are completely ignorant to how real readers are reacting to your work? And how do you expect to market your work better if you don’t know what’s working after you’ve tried it? You need to have an idea of sales numbers as they happen instead of two or twelve months later. But don’t read those reviews and check numbers because they. will. drive. you. crazy.

You must never, ever say negative things online about writing or publishing. You do not want to appear ungrateful toward the fact that you actually got published when so many authors would die to be in your shoes. You do not want to appear jealous of any other author because that would be sour grapes and may affect your sales or the good image of your publisher. But you must appear honest and approachable. If you flout yourself too much and never share anything negative, you’re going to look like a complete fake and others are going to start resenting you. But be careful. If you say anything remotely negative, you may incur that same resentment, as well. Just. Be. Careful. And don’t even think about retreating into a shell and never saying anything online anywhere. Because didn’t you read that first paragraph were you need to be online every single day? I once disappeared from online and never said a word about my books anywhere and my sales plummeted. So you cannot disappear. But your writing will be best if you stay offline as much as possible because then you will not have those distractions eating away at you. You might even create masterpieces that will blow away the world if you retreat into obscurity like the best authors do. But you really should be visible everywhere.

You must avoid adverbs in your writing because adverbs are horribly evil. Because the word horribly in that previous sentence wasn’t necessary, now was it? So avoid those adverbs. Chain yourself to rules others have made up for you and do not experiment to figure out what your own rules are. After all, it’s the books that feel like all the other books that sell the best, isn’t it? You want to be well known and well paid as an author. The perfect author is well known and well paid.

This is most likely not the first time you have heard all of this conflicting advice. It certainly isn’t the first time for me. The nice thing is that I am not writing at the moment. Taking a step back has helped me see how ridiculous and conflicting it can be to listen to everything. Taking a step back has helped me see myself a lot more. Taking a step back has helped me see that I was right in taking a step back. Intuition. It shouldn’t be ignored. I’m not a perfect author. Perfection, I believe, is right in front of us all the time. It is not a place, but the ability to choose what will work for us and kindly saying no to the things that won’t — even if those things work for others and they are successful and we are not.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle

9 comments

J. A. Bennett

I love this! It’s so frakin’ true. Gah! Love you!

hilarious – and true.

You should read George Saunders. He kind of blew my mind. Google “Adams” and read that story, but he writes better ones in his collections. “Adams” is still good, though.

Talking about ignoring rules made me think of that.

I love this post and I love adverbs. I. Love. Adverbs.

Scott GF Bailey

This is funny, because it’s true. Lately I’ve been wondering why I keep writing the wrong sorts of books. Then I sit down and write another one of those wrong sorts of books. Then I wonder if I should blog about that.

Linda Cassidy Lewis

This.

I’m getting better at finding the balance, but I still have my crazy days.

I’ve seen your posts on FB and I’m glad you’re finding other ways to channel your creativity. Temporarily. It can only be a good thing if you come back to writing refreshed.

Michelle, if it’s any consolation, the same things can be said about just about any profession.

Rebekah Loper

This. Is. Perfect.

I am not the ‘perfect author’. Partly because I have no books finished yet (hah.), but also because I am just not capable of doing all the things they say a writer should do.

So I’m making my own path. 🙂

Jenn Hubbard

It’s funny because it’s true.
This reminds me of a passage in Paula Danziger’s book The Pistachio Prescription. The kids are trying to decide who they want to be their class president:
“If we took all the suggestions made, the president would have to be a conservative, liberal, militant. He or she would have to be an intellectual person, who doesn’t act too smart and who is committed to support of the arts, sports, and keeping things the way they are, while making drastic changes.”

Michelle D. Argyle

Thank you for your comments, everyone. I wish I could have known a lot of this a few years ago, but hindsight is always 20/20, eh? We really do just have to follow our own path.

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