Monday, January 16, 2012

Writerly New Year's Resolutions

Be as smart as Seth Godin? Get the bod of Lindsey Vonn? Cook like the Pioneer Woman? Pfft. My only New Year’s Resolution is to go easier on myself and enjoy the ride. But if you twisted my arm, I could probably come up with a few writerly New Year’s Resolutions that might make those “soft goals” a little more doable.

1.     Don’t check your Amazon ranking every half hour. Okay, I’ve never been that bad, but if you add up how many times you do an innocent check in to see how your book is stacking up against the Jack and the Beanstalk rankings, you’re killing time and your presh ego all at once. You’re only up against Nora Roberts and Stephen King’s latest behemoths as well as their backlist plus the thousands of new books going up each week, so, umm, wouldn’t that time be better spent writing? Or, in my case, doing the dishes, which nearly reach Jack and the Beanstalk heights.

2.     Connect more, spam less.  You know how much I adore tweeting, if my 17 thousand plus tweets tell you anything, but back in the early days, Twitter was a bastion of quips and intelligence and new friends and conversation. Nowadays, it smells like New Orleans after Mardi Gras. Sure, tossing links to your latest helpful blog post is a given, but remember the 3 to 1 etiquette ratio I read somewhere – talk and tweet about others more than you do yourself. And maybe make some of those entertaining and not just more links. As a reader, I want to get to know the author, not just the author's books. Key difference. Remember, a baby bird falls from the nest and dies every time you use the word “buy” in your tweet. RIP, birdies I’ve killed.

3.    Get real. If I’ve been told correctly, each human is a unique creation, kind of like snowflakes, yet somehow our online presence can look like my instant mashed potatoes – bland and unappealing. Do you want to be writerly mush? Do you want to write mush? I don’t. When I catch myself saying something that sounds like something someone else would say, I force myself to hit delete and try again. I can do better. We can do better. We can go deeper, be more authentic, push ourselves to write better stories and to live the life we uniquely were meant to live. If that last part sounds like Martha Beck and Oprah, then you know where I’m spending my time instead of cooking real mashed potatoes. You get my drift. We were one-of-kind snowflakes when we came down to earth, were we not? Yet we landed on the snowdrift and got stuck. Time to get back to being ourselves.

Malena Lott is the author of Life’s a Beach, Dating da Vinci and Fixer Upper. Her story, “Snowflakes and Stones” was featured in Sleigh Ride: A Winter Anthology and she'scurrently updating her first novel, The Stork Reality, to release as an ebook in 2012, and writing young adult fiction under the pen name Lena Brown. and


  1. Malena, Great post! I am impressed with your tweet portfolio, since I've not put my toes in the water at all. And being oneself as a writer, you've nailed that. Your voice comes through loud and clear on this post. Brava.
    Happy MLK day

  2. Yes, Malena, we DO need to be easier on ourselves!! Well said.

  3. Well, of *course* I don't check my Amazon ranking every half hour. Everyone knows it only changes once an hour!

  4. "Nowadays, it smells like New Orleans after Mardi Gras."

    Love it! I'd been wondering what the smell was. ;)

  5. *waves from the heartland* Sheila, thank you. I am a tweetin' fool. Heavy on the fool. Brenda, I'm so easy on myself that I didn't even brush my hair out after I put moroccan oil in it this morning! :)
    Lauren - Okay, you got me. I actually didn't even know it was once an hour! But you sell more books than me, so yours would show a change of status more often.
    Jess, I'll bring the febreze to Twitter if you will.