Just seven? Seriously, this wasn’t a difficult post to write. I can think of many ways authors make life difficult for themselves. But they are complex creatures… yes, I can see their partners or family – or editors! – nodding vigorously in agreement. All of these are based on my own experience, and I’ve worked hard to cross some off my list. How many do you tick? Perhaps you’d like to comment below anonymously!
Before we start, this is how the dictionary defines a sin:
“An act regarded as a serious or regrettable fault, offence, or omission.”
One… the biggest ego in the world – which can so quickly swing to being the smallest. Whilst starting a first draft, I have what I call “X Factor Moments”. That is, flashes of thinking the book I am writing is so brilliant that any film director would be mad not to turn it into a movie. Then, usually, a third of the way through a manuscript, the total opposite happens and I suffer a massive crisis of confidence. It’s an exhausting rollercoaster and a regrettable fault, indeed, because it can shred a writer’s nerves.
Two… using writing as an excuse to justify overindulging in substances. Coffee, wine, chocolate, cake – be it a bad review or fantastic book launch, we’ll tell ourselves our poison of choice is the only way to commiserate or celebrate. This inevitably leads to writer’s bottom and is a huge offence against our health. Last year I took myself in hand and got cycling. I still enjoy my coffee and cake but try to aim for moderation.
Three… Comparison. With other authors – which, inevitably, leads to jealousy. I blogged about this here and can heartily recommend this post if you ever suffer pangs of wishing you were J K Rowling. Remember, your own success could be just around the corner. Comparing yourself is fruitless as there is a lot more to an author’s career than just the quality of their work. Luck plays a part and it is pointless wasting energy fretting over something that you can never consciously acquire. Instead focus on learning, improving and becoming the best version of yourself.
Four… Use their job as a threat. I do this quite a lot. “Be nice (read that as ‘do a good job’), or I’ll write you, as a villain, into my next book.” I say it with a sweet smile and little tinkling laugh, but believe me, I mean every word. This phrase has come in handy with all sorts of people, including an optician, tiler and a gynaecologist!
Five… Selfies. I now take these regularly to promote my work. And yes, I admit the sin of vanity – I do sometimes use Instagram filters. Like the one below. It’s a coaster about coffee because my upcoming May release, The New Beginnings Coffee Club, features this marvellous drink a lot. Last week I visited my editor and we were talking about photographers who ask clients which is their “best” side. Most of us wouldn’t know but *shamed face* I do now. Although I can never remember which it is!
Six... An obsession with social media. Hands up. At all hours I feel compelled to check my notifications on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I tell my family – and worse, myself – that this is purely for work. That funny gif of Brad Pitt? *Ahem*, um yes, it might inspire a character. And don’t get me started about checking the Amazon ranking of a newly released novel!
Seven… The blame game when things go wrong. The fact is, the publishing industry – the charts, readers, reviews – it’s all such a random, fickle, unpredictable business. Yes, sometimes causes can be pin-pointed, but prolonged negative thinking, resentments, bitterness – they are highly destructive and ultimately futile. If it’s impossible to focus on the positives – or they just aren’t there – then alter your situation, even if that means changing agent or publisher. I find meditation and mindfulness help. Plus a recent interest in Buddhism. Rubbish happens and will probably happen again. Usually it isn’t personal. For your own sake, try to move forwards.