Writing Has Taught Me – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Writing Has Taught Me (Page 2 of 5)

Writing Has Taught Me to be Unafraid

Writing Has Taught Me to be Unafraid

I’ve always been a bit of an introvert (to anyone who knows me, that “a bit” may seem like an understatement). I prefer the company of a good book, movie, or TV show to a crowd of people. It’s so much easier to be by myself than to try and keep up with conversations.

Thanks to writing, I’ve gotten out of my shell and have found that I am not afraid to talk to ANYONE!

On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to be one of the authors invited to a local author event at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.

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It was a blast! I got to chat with other authors, meet new people, and do the one thing I have been dreaming of for years: see my book sitting on a bookstore shelf!

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At the beginning, it was a bit tough to strike up conversations with other people–both authors and guests. I wasn’t too certain of what to say, how to talk about myself and my book, and so on.

But as the event went on, I realized one simple thing: people wanted to know more. They wanted to know more about me and my journey as a writer, about the things that have helped me to reach an audience of readers, about the story I was promoting, and about the things that went into crafting a story. EVERYONE was interested!

I’m certain some people only talked to me to be polite, but I made a lot of friends and sold ALL the books I had dropped off. More than that, I learned that being bold is the way to be a good salesman.

I am passionate about my books and my writing, so it’s easy to talk about it once I get started. Though there’s always that initial moment of hesitation to start talking to people, after I get past that, it’s smooth sailing!

I am now completely unafraid to talk to anyone about my book, myself as a writer, and my personal journey, and I believe that will play a large role in whatever amount of success I achieve as a writer.

 

Writing Has Taught Me to Think Ahead

Note: This is not me “tooting my own horn”–I’m just sharing what I’ve learned!

When I launched my first book–In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten ContinentI had one goal in mind: get that first book out there, no matter what!

When I received the final formatted copy of the book from my editor, I believe I waited all of 30 minutes before uploading the file to Amazon for publishing. A few days later, I had my first book launch. Hooray! Excitement all around!

How did the book launch go? Not as good as I had hoped. I rushed that book launch, with hardly any time to prepare for the release.

With Blade of the Destroyer, I learned that I need to think ahead and be prepared. Back in November 2014, when I finished the book and had it professionally edited, I could have launched right away. But because of what I learned from the earlier book launch, I set a much later goal: March 2015.

In that 4 month interim, I:

  • Reached out to people for reviews
  • Contacted sites for guest posts
  • Tried to expand my network and make new friends

By January 2015, I had roughly 200 people willing to help me launch my book in some way.

Fast forward to July 2015. The book got picked up by a publisher, thus delaying the launch. But when I got that final proof/ARC to send out, I was ready to roll! I had that long list of people willing to help, a tentative plan for the book launch, and pretty much everything I needed to do a “big” launch.

How is my launch looking?

  • I have about 60 author interviews/guest posts/book reviews being posted as part of a blog tout running between August 18th and September 25th. I’ve currently written about 35 of them.
  • I have roughly 100 to 150 people reading the book and preparing to post (hopefully awesome) reviews before, on, or around the launch date of August 21st.
  • I have a countdown going on social media letting people know how many days are left until the book is released (we’re currently at 18).
  • I have a list of fellow authors (20 to 30) who will either offer a book as a giveaway, or who will participate in my book launch.

Will this make my launch a success? I guess we’re going to find out in a few weeks. But I believe that because I didn’t rush into things but I took the time to think ahead and prepare, I’ll have a much higher chance for success than I had during my first book launch. I may not become a best-seller overnight, but I will definitely reach a wider audience, establish myself more firmly as an author, and continue to build that platform that will one day help me achieve the level of “success” I’m shooting for.

Let this be a lesson to everyone: Don’t do things IMMEDIATELY, but take time to think ahead and plan. It may not guarantee success, but it will help you be ready just in case success finds you!

Writing Has Taught Me to Search for the New

I’ve developed a new motto when it comes to trying new things: “I’ll do anything once.”

If you knew me a few years ago, you’d know that this is totally out of character for me. I’ve always been the guy who likes the “known” and “familiar”–things that are well within my comfort zone.

But over the last years of being a writer, I’ve had to make changes and do things a whole new way. I’ve had to be open to new experiences.

Why would new experiences matter to a writer?

Think about it: let’s say you are a man (like me). In your books, you can’t have all-male characters who think and act just like you. Your men have to be different–good, bad, short, tall, strong, weak, and so on. Then you have to write women, which adds a whole new layer of complexity to your writing. If you have to write children, old people, monsters, and creatures, you’re way out of your comfort zone!

In my “secret side project“, I’m writing about a female thief who climbs to the top of the tallest tower in the city. She is stunned when she looks down and sees the city laid out below. Do you know where that experience comes from? From the time I went bungee jumping at the age of 15. I can feel that same rush of excitement, the same knot in my stomach, and the same thrill of being up high as my character is feeling. That helps me to make the character’s experience that much more authentic, and that’s what I transmit to the reader.

As a writer, it’s all about trying to fill as many shoes as possible. You have to try to think, act, and speak like each of the characters you are writing. If you don’t, your characters come off as inconsistent or–even worse–bland and generic.

But how can you fill those shoes properly? After all, you’re just one man! What can one man do? (I know that’s a reference to something, I just can’t figure out what…)

Well, there’s where “the new” comes into play. The more you experience, the more you talk to people, the more points of view you can understand, the easier it will be to put yourself in the shoes of the characters you’re writing. You will have an easier time seeing from behind the eyes of your men, women, children, old people, monsters, and myths because you can relate to them in a way.

The broader your base of experience, the broader your store of knowledge. The more experience you have, the more you have to draw from. That will fuel your creativity and expand your creative horizons, making it easier for you to write broader, deeper, and more varied characters and stories.

If you want to be a better writer, you have to try new things! It’s just one small way to gain more experience, which will help you have an easier time putting yourself in your characters’ shoes.

Writing Has Taught Me to Prioritize

How many things are left undone during your day?

I’ve found that I have SO MANY things to deal with in these final days leading up to my book launch. Yes, I’m a month away, but there’s a lot to do in that month:

Write all the author interviews and guest posts

Contact all the people who have agreed to review a copy of the book

Find new venues for book signings, channels of distributions, etc.

Solicit more reviews and posts for the blog tour

Set up the book launch party–including the Rafflecopter book giveaway

Fix up my website–including all the difficult back-end stuff

And that’s ASIDE from all of my regular work! I still have my day job to keep up with, plus spending time with the missus and kids, trying to relax a bit, hit the gym every day, continue the work on the TWO books I’m currently in the middle of writing, and more.

So how do I get it all done?

Sadly, I can’t! I can’t do everything every day. I can only do some of what needs to be done, so I am forced to decide what that “some” will be.

First off, regular work. Have to pay the bills, so that’s the first thing I get out of the way every morning. I don’t do ANYTHING else until I’ve finished my writing work for the day.

Next, I have to make progress on the Book 2 of my new series, The Last Bucelarii. I can’t rest on my laurels just because Book 1 is coming out. (August 21st, by the way. Mark it on your calendars!)

After that, it’s off to the gym and cooking lunch–two important tasks that have nothing to do with my professional career, but have everything to do with staying healthy and productive.

A quick shower and nap later, and it’s back to work at my desk. I prepare all of my work for the next day, so it’s easy to start writing first thing in the morning.

Then I’ve got to keep plugging away at the book I’m writing for the Writers’ Bootcamp I’m attending. Great stuff, but more work.

Finally, and by now it’s evening, I have to decide what I’m going to do for the book launch. Thankfully, I’ve got the author interviews/guest posts all dated, so if I write two per day, I’ll have the 30 to 40 posts done well before the post date.

A bit more time working on my website, sending out emails, and doing all the other things, and it’s off to dinner and a relaxing evening with the family.

Sure, stressful days, but it’s the only way to get things done! The fact that I’ve prioritized everything is how I continue to pay the bills while working at my book launch, make progress in TWO separate novels, and actually launch the book in one month’s time.

It’s all about putting the important tasks first, and fitting the other “less” important tasks in around them!

 

Writing Has Taught Me to Be Social

Most people consider writing to be a fairly anti-social activity–which, in most cases, it really is. You spend most of your time hunched over a computer screen or a notebook, scribbling or typing away. Countless hours are spent alone, editing, writing, or re-drafting.

But there is an inherent need to socialize as well. After all, a majority of your customers are going to buy your book not only because they like the look of it, but also because of YOU.

I spent the weekend at San Diego Comic Con (a totally epic weekend, by the way), and I noticed an interesting phenomenon: the most popular people were the ones who were kind, friendly, and outgoing.

For example, I sat near a fairly well-known comic book artist. He greeted every single one of his customers by name, gave hugs, took pictures, and interacted. In the four days of the convention, he ALWAYS had people by his table.

Compare that to other artists who were sitting and either drawing or just waiting, and their sales were probably much lower. Their clients were far fewer, and the interactions were much less pleasant.

I also met amazing Australian thriller author Luke Romyn. He was one of the friendliest people I met at the entire con, and I know his personality is a huge part of what has made him incredibly successful in a highly competitive industry.

The same goes for the Winner Twins, authors of the epic science fiction series The Strand Prophecy. They talked with EVERYONE, and they were so nice about interacting both with their die-hard fans and their new recruits.

Remember, everyone is trying to sell something. As an author, you’re trying to market yourself to people who have never heard of you. You can’t expect them just to like your product, but you have to “sell yourself”.

You know how I got people interested in what I was selling? I offered “free” high fives all day long. It put a smile on people’s faces, and when I started talking to them, they were much more interested in what I had to say.

If you want to succeed, you have to be social, friendly, polite, and outgoing. It’s the only way you’ll make it in this highly competitive industry–or in ANY industry!

Writing Has Taught Me to Make Sacrifices

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could spend every moment of the day doing something we love? Whether you want to play music, write books, or fly kites for a living, there’s nothing like being able to live your passion.

But in order to live your passion, you often have to make sacrifices.

You have to sacrifice your time. You rarely have enough time to do everything you want to do, so something has to go. Only a few very lucky people can pay the bills by writing all day long, and most of us have to spend hours at our day job. What little time we do have available is occupied with writing. Say goodbye to video games, TV, and often time with friends and family.

You have to sacrifice your dreams. Perhaps you dreamed of being a professional skateboarder or escape artist. As you work toward that dream, you realize that it is a time-consuming passion. It takes up every minute of your day and all of your brain power. Every other “lesser” dream you had is put on hold or forgotten in order to chase that passion.

It’s not always fun, but it’s a necessary part of life!

I just spent almost my entire weekend working at my desk. I got the final edits on The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer back from my publisher, so I had to go over them. I also spent the weekend polishing up my manuscript, making sure it’s as good as it could be. I had to cram all that into two days in order to reach my publishing deadline.

What happened to my family during that time I was working? I don’t know, which sucks. They had to entertain themselves while I worked, rather than us being able to do stuff together. I have no doubt that I’m going to hear about it at some point, but it was a sacrifice I had to make.

To make things worse, I didn’t really get a day off. It’s Monday and I’m back and work, and I feel like I didn’t take a break at all.

But to me, it’s all worth it! It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make because it’s going to ensure that the final product that I put out is not just good, but AS GOOD AS I CAN MAKE IT.

Sacrifices may suck, but they are an important part of being the best you can be.

Writing Has Taught Me to Keep At It

There are days when the last thing I want to do is work!

I’m sure it’s something all writers have to deal with. It’s so exhilarating to be creative and write novels that the last thing we want to do is crunch numbers, haul boxes, oversee annoying employees, drive a truck, and all those other mundane tasks that make up our day job.

Even writing is a lot more hard work than most people realize! There’s the thrill of creating, but that’s less than 25% of the actual work. You have to spend so much time polishing, editing, rewriting, fixing, changing, and finding mistakes. By the time your book is published, it’s 25% fun and 75% plain old-fashioned hard work.

But, like anything great, it’s worth fighting for. It’s worth waking up one more day to go to your boring day job and put in a solid 8 to 10 hours at the grindstone, all so that you can come home and put your 30 to 90 minutes a day into the work that makes you happy.

Most of the great writers started out writing in their spare time, and they had to find ways to work around their day job. They had to excel at their day job, too, as that was the only way to stay hired while trying to work their second job (write their novels). It’s like having two full-time jobs, and having to excel at both. A lot of hard work!

Thankfully, I’ve learned to keep at it.

Yes, my day job sometimes gets boring. Sitting and writing all day long can take its toll, both on my mind and body. But when I find myself complaining because I have to write another article, I remember what I’m doing it for. Thanks to the regular work that I have, I’m able to put in those hours of “free time” writing novels.

If you keep at it–both your “boring” money-making job and the “exhilarating” job of creating–you’ll find yourself a much better person in the long run. You’ll have the dedication needed for all the hard work of writing (remember 25% fun, 75% work), but you’ll also have that desire to create and the NEED for an outlet. It’s a beautiful balance, and one that can help you be a better, more professional writer and person overall!

 

Writing Has Taught Me to Look for Mistakes

One of the hardest things for me to realize was that I am a flawed person. I don’t mean when it comes to personality or temperament, but I mean more along the lines of professional skills. Let me explain…

When I first started out writing, I knew that I had a lot to learn, but I considered myself pretty skilled. By the time I completed my first novel, In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent, I thought I had the writing thing down pretty well.

Boy, was I in for a shock! A few reviews opened my eyes (I’ll be writing about this on Friday), and I came to realize that I had A LOT to learn.

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My dad always said, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” I always hated that saying, but it’s absolutely true! As I delve more and more into the world of writing, story-telling, and being an author, I realize that there is so much to learn.

Which has helped me tremendously! I’ve come to understand that I will make mistakes in my writing. With that understanding, I’ve started to actively SEARCH for those mistakes. If I can find them myself, it will improve the quality of the work by the time it gets to the people who are reading it–alpha readers, beta readers, editors, and finally the general public.

It’s amazing how often I end up correcting my writing. Take that sentence right there as an example. It started out as “correcting myself as I write. I changed the structure of the sentence in order to improve it (or at least I think it’s better).

Any time I write, I look for mistakes. I’m comfortable with the fact that I will make them, so I can look for them to eliminate them.

The same with life! I’m going to make mistakes as a partner, a parent, and a professional, but that’s not a problem. It’s just part of being human. But if I can look for the mistakes I’m making, I can correct and eliminate them before they affect those around me.

Thanks to this simple habit, I’ve improved not only my writing, but also myself!

 

Writing Has Taught Me to Do Less

This may not sound like a good thing, but hear me out….

When I sit down to write, I want to keep writing until I have finished the story. I’m so excited about what I’m going to put down on paper that I don’t want to stop. Being a storyteller is highly addictive, as I’m sure many of my fellow authors can attest!

But if I spent all of my time writing, I wouldn’t get anything else done. I have a family to care for, responsibilities around the house, a body to take care of, and so on. If I don’t spend time with the family, at the gym, taking a break, and paying the bills, we’d be in serious trouble!

So I have to intersperse my writing with the rest of my work–as all newbie authors do. Unlike those of you fortunate enough to dedicate your life to the work you love, I (along with 99% of the world’s population) have to go to work every day. It’s hard to fit the “work I love” in with the rest of stuff.

I’ve written about how I’ve had to push myself hard to write more, but I’ve also had to learn how to do less. Why is this a good thing?

Back to the “addictive feeling” mentioned above. I can (and have) sit down and write for hours on end, but I’m pretty sure the people I live with wouldn’t like that. If I did that during the work week, a lot of other things (like the kids’ homework, the cooking and cleaning, workouts, taking the kids to their events, etc.) would be neglected. So I have to force myself to do LESS than I really want to do, all for the sake of keeping things on an even keel.

But in many ways, I think my writing comes out better for it. It’s hard at times to work on big projects one small chunk at a time, but breaking the writing down into small chunks helps me to keep things on track.

So I’m forced to do less, but it helps me make it quality. If I know that I’m only going to get an hour of writing time in, I’ll do my damnedest to make the most of that hour. In that hour, I get as much done as I can, and then I move on. No prolonging the work, no “just a little bit more…” Get in, write, and get out. Makes for much cleaner writing, and a much happier family!

Learn to do less at a time, and you’ll find that you get a lot more done in the long run–and with less displeasure from those around you.

Writing Has Taught Me the Joy of Being Busy

I’ve always been a pretty chilled guy. In fact, one of the problems I had as a child/teenager was being TOO chilled. I preferred a good book, an enjoyable movie, or an awesome video game to study, working, learning, or doing active things.

In recent years, I’ve been blessed to work from home. That means I can set my own hours and choose how I spend my time. With my off hours, I would read, practice martial arts, spend time with my kids, watch TV, and do enjoyable, relaxing things.

Then I started writing. I had all those extra hours, so I would use them to write. Writing, while enjoyable, is still work, so my hours became more and more productive. The more time I spent writing, the more time I wanted to spend writing–and the less time I wanted to spend watching TV and “hanging around”.

It has gotten to the point where I am currently working from 7 AM to 1 PM on my day job, 2 to 3 PM on one novel, and 5 to 6:30 PM on a second novel. Around that schedule, I’m eating meals, taking care of my kids, trying to be a good parent/spouse, doing what I can around the house, and so on.

But I love it! I feel so much more productive than ever before. Even when on “vacation”, there’s nothing I want to do more than just sit and write. On those rare days when I can’t get to my writing, I miss it. I miss the thrill of creation, but more than anything else, I miss the feeling of working toward something.

I’ve come to love feeling and being busy. If I don’t have a project to work toward, I feel like there’s something missing in my life. Taking a week off writing is a challenge for me, and even then my brain doesn’t stop working. I may not be writing a book, but I will come up with ideas for the next book I’m going to write. It’s an amazing feeling, and one I’d never want to lose.

Yes, I never have enough “down time” to get to all those extras–reading books and comics, playing video games, etc. But I’ve noticed that when I’m working hard, the little down time I do get feels amazing!

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