Write your second book already

You’ve written a book. It took you thirty years and eighty-million revisions. You’ve gotten some positive feedback from agents/ editors/ critique partners/ your mom, but you can’t seem to ramp it up to the sales-ready level.

Here’s my advice to you: let it go.

Goofy meme aside, I genuinely mean it. You can’t tie yourself to any one story. You are a writer, not a writer-of-this-one-thing. As much as you love it, as much as you worked on it, it doesn’t define you.

Write a second book. See what happens.

 You don’t have to throw your first manuscript into a symbolic fire and curse cruel fate.

Print it out. Kiss it. Tie a ribbon around it. And stick it in a drawer. Maybe as you go along you will gain the tools you need to take it out of the drawer and make it into something marketable. Maybe in three years fae­­­-werewolf adventure/romances with speculative elements will be in. For now, write something else.

You’ll go in this time with all of the research and internalized advice you’ve received while going through the hell that it is writing your first book. You are starting from a better place. You can do this, I promise. You can write again.

Get you a job that can do both

Step 0 to starting a sustainable writing career is to get a day job that you at least don’t mind. I understand that it’s not what you want to be doing. What you want to do is write and make enough on a debut novel to never have to work in a stuffy 9-5 again. I get it. If you have a job just to pay the bills, why spend the time and energy getting one you like?

But I urge you to not let yourself be pulled into a toxic environment. It will affect your writing. For a year of my life, I worked as a secretary, a position that forced me to interact with strangers for eight hours a day. Since I am as introverted as they come, this was a nightmare.

The marketing aspects of the job that had made me take it in the first place were dangled like carrots to make me stay, then flung away. Instead, I dealt with vendors calling me “sweetie” and “young lady.” My worth as an employee seemed to hinge on how full of soda I kept the fridge in the breakroom.

Certainly not the worst job I could have had after college. But not the best. When I got home every day, I ranted to my boyfriend and watched mushy animes just to make myself feel okay again. This didn’t leave much time for writing.

I decided to go back on the job market because I knew I could do better. I applied for a job at a small press that had almost hired me for the same position a year earlier. It was a bit humbling to apply again, but it showed my dedication, and I got the position.

Now I work with books every day. And I love it. At the end of a day, I have more emotional energy leftover, meaning I have less ranting and anime-watching to do to feel ready to write. It’s made a huge difference in what I’m able to accomplish on any given weeknight. It’s done as much or more for my writing as craft classes have.

Self-care is an integral part of the writing process. Take it with as much seriousness as you take grammar and punctuation.