There was a time in the writing industry where a writer could write a good book, and because the book was so good–and so much better than most books people were writing–that book stood out and agents and publishers came out of the woodwork to represent it and publish it. And all an author had to do was publish a really good book, and they’d be on the bestseller list, doing book signings around the country and getting interviewed in the media.
Ah, it was a lovely time to be an author.
Except that you had very little control of anything. Your fate was in someone else’s hands.
Good thing that time is over now.
Yes, over. Finished. Done-zo.
It just doesn’t work like that anymore. And it can’t. The market is way too saturated.
So what emerging novelists in today’s digital age need to do, is step up and take control of their own writing destinies.
If you have a dream, a vision, a goal for your writing, it’s up to YOU to make it happen. Y. O. U.
No one else can make it happen for you.
It’s in your hands.
I realized this a while back. I had a finished draft of my novel, SoundCheck, and was sitting on it. I was procrastinating and not doing the work.
And my soul was suffering for it.
Because writing stories is my soul’s work, and I know it.
And that’s when I realized it–I was (subconsciously) waiting for someone else to give me the go-ahead. For someone else to give me permission to take things to the next level with my writing life.
I was leaving my destiny to chance, instead of being intentional about it.
In the digital age, emerging novelists have a unique opportunity to be intentional and use that intention to achieve their writing goals.
Because there’s so much more in your control. You no longer need a gatekeeper (aka: agent or publisher) to get your novel out into the world. The doors to the self-publishing world are wide-open. All you have to do is just walk in.
But there’s more to it than that. And a lot of writers don’t see it and end up publishing something subpar and then wondering why no one buys it or writes reviews or really even cares.
Don’t be that kind of self-published novelist. Be the self-published novelist who took control of her writing destiny and did things as professionally as possible, and who learned what it took to write a good novel, to publish it, promote it and make sales.
Be that kind of authorpreneur. The kind who publishes an awesome book that builds a foundation for a long writing career (one that grows with each book).
Here’s my roadmap for taking control of your writing destiny:
1. Learn the Craft of Novel Writing
Novel writing is unlike any other kind of writing out there. It’s a very specific beast that needs to be put together in a very specific way. You can’t just write whatever you want and call it a story.
You have to follow the principles of storytelling.
And yes, once you’ve got the principles down you can break them when you need to. But only when and if it works (and NEVER if you’re a first-time author, and most especially NEVER if you’re a first-time author who’s trying to get traditionally published).
No matter what else you do, learn craft. Master the craft of writing stories that work.
This will serve you to no end. And I can think of nothing more aligned with being in control of your writing destiny than knowing what the fuck you’re doing.
If you know what you’re doing you can surpass even the authors out there who know what they’re doing but don’t have the language to describe or talk about it (meaning they intuitively know how to write a story, but they don’t have the words to describe how they know what they know).
When you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to repeat it over and over again (and never make an ass of yourself in Writer’s Digest magazine by suggesting that you have no idea how you write your books, even though you’ve written a ton of them, including one that was a smash-hit bestseller). A repeatable process based on the principles of storytelling.
And no one can ever take that away from you.
2. Master Your Mindset
I harp on this a lot, but it’s because honestly this is the secret sauce that totally shifted my life.
I’ve always been an insanely positive person. But I had a ton of negative programming about myself. And that’s where things started to fall apart as I got closer and closer to finishing my novel and publishing it.
Because you can’t think negatively about yourself or having tons of limiting beliefs if you want to be successful. Sure, you can still achieve things with that kind of mindset (I’m proof of it).
Except there’s no joy in it. You’ll just achieve the goal and feel like it’s still not enough and you probably won’t even take time to celebrate and will just go on to the next thing (yep, that’s what I used to do).
But when you get your mind to a place of feeling like your goal is already yours and already a done deal… then when you achieve it, you’ll actually enjoy it and it will actually feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Because you’re in control, and your mind is in a place where it’s open to receiving what you’ve asked for and you’re not sabotaging it.
When you don’t work on your mindset and you just let your thoughts run wild, you’ll never be in control. And then things will just happen to you, instead of you intentionally making things happen.
Whereas when you focus on being intentional about how you want to feel and what you want to think and believe about yourself, that’s when you’re taking control of your destiny.
Taking control of your writing destiny is about being intentional.
3. Create Your Own Reality
Some people believe they have no control of what happens to them. They believe the reality they see with their eyes is the only reality that exists and it’s the only one that’s real.
So that’s how their lives unfold. Stuff happens to them, they have no control over it. Then they use the stuff going wrong in their lives to make excuses for why they don’t have what they want or why they haven’t finished their novel or published it.
And then there are the others. The crazies. The people who not only believe they control their own realities, but know that they can change that reality almost immediately, just by changing their thoughts, beliefs and the things they focus on.
I consider myself to be one of these crazies. Because I’ve seen the power of focus and of being intentional, and I choose to live my life no other way but that.
If you know that you can control your own reality, then you can see how easy it will be to take control of your writing destiny.
When you set an intention and believe it’s possible and that you can have it… you will. You’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted.
But you’ve gotta be intentional about it. You have to know what you want and then you have to create it with your words, your thoughts and your actions.
The best tool for this is getting a journal and doing a daily “write your reality” exercise where you write about your dream life as if it’s your real life. You do this every single day, until what you’re writing about starts to become your life.
That is an intentional way of being. It’s a way of focusing yourself on what matters most to you.
And what you focus on expands.
4. Be Your Own Publisher
This is an extreme “take control of your writing destiny” tactic, but self-publishing is a great way to keep creative control and get your book out into the world.
But if you’re going to self-publish (I do, and totally recommend it), you have to do it as professionally. You can’t just write your book and put it out there. You need to hire a team of people to support you–an editor, Beta Readers, a story coach, a cover illustrator–whoever you need to bring your book to life and as professionally as it would be if a traditional publisher put it out.
That’s taking control of your writing destiny. That’s being in charge of your writing career. That’s setting yourself up for success.
If you self-publish and then just put your book out there… that’s not professional. In fact, that’s the opposite of taking control of your writing destiny. That’s kicking your writing destiny in the balls.
You’ll never be successful that way.
Professional authors treat their books professionally. You need to do the same.
5. Get Out There and Be Visible
This is maybe the hardest part of taking control of your writing destiny. Especially because most writers are introverts and prefer not to have the spotlight on them.
But succeeding in the online world requires you to get out there and be visible.
Because you can’t always be in front of people in person. So you have to get creative and find ways to show up and get in front of your audience.
Authorpreneurs in the digital age use social media, videos, livestreaming, guest posting, getting interviewed on podcasts and in the media, and more, to be visible and get their names out there. And the name of the game with all of this is consistency.
You have to be consistent with being visible. You don’t want to be super visible one week, disappear for a few weeks and then resurface. Building a fanbase means being visible and consistent–pretty much on a daily basis.
Just follow the authors and writers and successful artists that you love and watch what they do. Pay attention to what they post and how often, and how they connect with their readers and audience.
Use what they do as a guide for what you do.
By following this roadmap, you will be able to totally take control of your destiny and create the writing life of your dreams.
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What can you do right now, today, to start taking control of your writing destiny?
If you’re ready to get over your shit (excuses be damned), learn how to write a kick-ass novel, and get the support and feedback you need to finish and publish it, check out the Students of Story community.