I hit a milestone this month, and it wasn’t a birthday. I saw the publication of my twentieth book, Twins for the Teacher. It seems like yesterday, not October 2000, that my first book hit the shelves. I also realized that Jessica and I had been together since book 15, and that a few years had flown by.
Where did the time go?
I’ve learned a few things since I first started, and thought I’d share ten things with you.
1. Trust your voice and your vision. That old “if it feels right, don’t change it, or if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it,” has kept me out of a lot of trouble over the years.
2. Don’t get hung up on the rules. They’ll say don’t break them, and then someone always does. So again, trust your gut. You’ll know when it’s your turn to be a wild child. Although remember that there are a few cardinal sins, like sliding your manuscript under a bathroom door, that are never ever excusable.
3. Be persistent. Too many people give up the first time things get rough. I’ve written through divorce, job changes, and child angst. If you are a writer, you write. Don’t let one or one hundred rejections get you down.
4. Prioritize. It’s the only way I get things done. When my priorities are out of whack, things don’t go right. Writing is #3 on my list, after family and day job.
5. Be kind and polite. That old “you catch more flies with honey” adage is true, true true. If you can’t say something nice, bite your tongue and keep quiet. That way it won’t come back later and bite your butt.
6. Say no. While being kind is important, you don’t have to say yes to everything. You don’t have to attend every meeting. The wrong offer can be a bad offer, the wrong agent can hurt your career. Agreeing to every committee or social engagement can keep you from writing.
7. Say thank you. Thank everyone and let them know how grateful you are for the opportunities you’ve had.
8. Respect yourself. This goes along with #1. Don’t try to be something you’re not just to make a sale. Think long term.
9. Writing should be fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re burning out. And PS—have friends from outside of the world of writing.
10. Write. You don’t have to write every day, but you do have to write. Whether you submit or not, that’s up to you.
Also, if you’re interested, I have a 20 questions interview at www.harauthors.blogspot.com. It was posted on March 12.
Twins for the Teacher is Michele Dunaway’s 20th book for Harlequin. Michele is currently revising her 22nd novel, all while balancing teaching full-time, writing an article for Communication: Journalism Education Today, and, most important, being a mom. Her next release is this July’s Bachelor CEO.