Self Defense

I see posts online at the start of each year with recommendations on “how authors should behave,” a list of things we should do and not do in the year ahead, mostly related to social media and reviews and writing habits and conferences and publicity and — okay, mostly related to everything. So here’s my contribution: When you see advice, please only take the parts that feel truly right to you. Dump the rest.

Because some of the stuff these posts will suggest will make sense. But not for everybody. Not for me.

In the year ahead, I’ll be guarding my time. If I only have so many words to write during my lifetime, do I really want half of them to be tweets? There might be days — maybe even weeks — that I don’t log on to Twitter. And that’s okay. I can still keep my account. I can engage when I want to and catch up when I need to. Is it the most effective way to use Twitter? No. Is it the most effective way to remain healthy and focus on my writing? I hope so.

For me, it means abandoning Goodreads. Maybe you can hack it, but I can’t. I find it, if not soul-destroying, creativity destroying. I haven’t deleted my account, but I do try to uphold an OSHA-like record.

301 days without a workplace accident.

301 days without signing on to Goodreads.

Actually I’m not sure exactly how many days it has been because I’d have to sign on to find out. I’m not one of those advocating a change to the site. I’m just saying I avoid it like the plague.

If I hear, one more time, “well if you’re that sensitive maybe you should do something else,” I am going to scream. ARRRRGGGH. (That was preemptive. Also, a Charlie Brown reference.)

Here are the only things I want you to take away from this post:

1. Please take all of the advice you hear, even this, with a grain of salt. Some of the things people suggest will be good for you. Great, even. But some won’t be. See paragraph 1 about dumping what doesn’t feel true to you. Protect your creativity.

2. Find a community that will support you. Online or off. Big or small. Your community has to feel right to you, too.

If you’ve been writing for years and you’re still publishing, CONGRATULATIONS. If you’ve been writing for years and you haven’t published but you haven’t given up, CONGRATULATIONS. If it’s your debut year, CONGRATULATIONS. And if you’re just getting started, CONGRATULATIONS to you, too.

If you want to do this for the long haul, you have to trust yourself

And you have to protect yourself.

Over and out,


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