A writer's attitude can help bring success. But what should that attitude look like? Rah-rah positive? Pragmatic? Take-no-prisoners serious?
USA Today bestselling author and renowned business blogger Kristine Kathryn Rusch helps guide writers to find the right attitude for a long-term writing career in this latest WMG Writers' Guide.
Rusch covers topics such as habits, the importance of routines, the dangers of following a crowd, and how create—and follow—one's own vision of a writing career.
With The Write Attitude, Rusch shows writers how they can do what they love and love what they do without sabotaging their own success.
My book, The Write Attitude, started as a book on how-to-write. But I am less interested in the hows than in the whys. Writers need reasons to go to work every day. And we need ways to overcome the day-to-day discouragements, excuses, and hardships that the writing business can bring. So I wrote about attitude instead of craft. Craft will get you started; attitude will keep you going. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
"[Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog,] The Business Rusch…is full of sound advice and analysis about what's going on."– Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
"Kristine Kathryn Rusch's new book Discoverability is by far the best resource I have read to date to help indie authors succeed after the book is written."– Chris Syme, Principal of CKSyme Media Group
"The bible for the self-employed."– John Ottinger III, teacher and editor of Grasping for the Wind, on The Freelancer’s Survival Guide
This book came about—as so many of my nonfiction books do—because someone suggested it. In this case, the man who suggested the book didn't even know he had.
Jason Chen of Storybundle asked me to curate a Storybundle on the craft of writing. For those of you unfamiliar with Storybundle and other websites of its type, the bundles are assembled from the works of various authors. The authors contribute e-books, and those e-books get sold for a special price, often set by the consumer.
In addition to getting a bundle of books generally for less than the price of a single paperback, the consumer can also contribute to a charity at the same time.
I love participating in Storybundle. Over the years, I've done several. And that was a problem.
Jason doesn't like repeating books in various bundles—even though previous bundles are no longer available.
In the fall of 2014, I included a craft book in a bundle curated by Kevin J. Anderson. Normally, I would have put that book—The Pursuit of Perfection and How It Harms Writers—into any craft bundle, but I had already done so.
Still, I had time. I decided to write several craft-focused posts on my writing and publishing blog, Business Musings. The blog appears on my website every week. I also keep a list of the topics I've covered. Head to my website, kristinekathrynrusch.com, and click on the Business Resources tab. You'll find a lot of information there.
As I started to write the posts, I realized I was writing less about how-to-write than I was about attitudes. Attitude makes the difference between a successful writer and a want-to-be writer.
I don't just mean attitude as in that happy-go-lucky you-can-do-it! rah-rah stuff you find in most how to write (or how to do anything) books. I mean the way that a writer should look at her writing, her career, and her life in order to succeed.
Before I go further, I should define a few things.
When I talk about writing, I mean the actual creative part of the process. Creating new words. Playing. Not revision, not rewriting, not all the drudgery stuff your English teacher had you do in high school. If you don't understand why I say creating new words is important but rewriting isn't, then pick up The Pursuit of Perfection or follow the links in the Endnotes to read the original posts free on my blog.
When I talk about career, I don't mean hobby. I really don't. And I don't mean something you do while you have a day job. I mean a career in writing that lasts for decades, not one that will last maybe five good years before petering out. I've been at this career since I was sixteen, which is (sad to say) nearly forty years. I've had ups and I've had downs, and I've weathered all of them—by having, finding, or rekindling the right attitude.
When I talk about life, I mean the stuff you do in addition to your writing. It's all part of the package that is you. Your life informs your writing. Your writing can intrude on your life, if you let it. Your life will intrude on your writing at times.
The key is to make writing part of your life, but not your entire life.
If you want to be a career writer—someone who has decades of writing and publishing—then you must find the right balance for you. You will give up things and you will also find things because of the writing.
Because I assembled this book from blog posts, the book is anecdotal. After I finished the initial posts, I thumbed through what I had written in five years of blogging on writing and publishing, and found some other posts that were, in some ways, even closer to the idea of this book.
I decided not to cut the posts much. I didn't want this to be a standard how-to book, only filled with advice and shoulds. I think shoulds are deadly to the writer.
Instead, I left the posts mostly intact because they were written in the moment, and they show how I grappled with large problems that came my way.
I wrote these through serious illness (I nearly died in the spring of 2012), the loss of friends and family, the near-loss of my career, and the start of several businesses (not just writing-related). I share some ups here as well as some downs.
I am rather amazed at how clearly my attitude comes through these posts. The attitude—my strong desire to write and to remain the writer I want to be—informs almost every word.
A few other things to clear up here, for those of you who've never come to my blog. I'm married to another writer, Dean Wesley Smith, who writes both fiction and nonfiction. We've been together nearly thirty years, through ups and downs. He also blogs about writing and publishing at deanwesleysmith.com. I mention him and his blog a lot.
We co-own several businesses, including three retail stores (at last count), and a publishing company. Yet we make most of our personal income through writing.
We have owned a lot of businesses over our years together, as well as several businesses before we met each other. So you'll see that many of my posts are business-oriented, even when I talk about craft, because business is how I think about things.
I also edit. I'm currently editing projects for WMG Publishing, Baen Books, and Kobo. I used to edit The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I've won awards for both my editing and my writing.
And once upon a time, I was the news director of a radio station.
Yet through it all, writing sustained me and outearned everything else I did. When the other jobs (or the other businesses) got in the way of writing, I jettisoned them.
Sounds easy. It was often hard.
Some of those difficulties inform this book. Some will have to wait until another book.
I hope you find a lot to think about here. I organized everything to move you from setting up your writing habits to dealing with the outside world to remembering why you like writing.
Most of all, though, I hope you enjoy the book.
And if you have questions, you can find me, every week, blogging about something at kristinekathrynrusch.com.