So, today is the eighth day of my blog’s life. Over days one through seven my baby garnered 351 hits, averaging out around 50 per day. This made, and still makes, me ridiculously happy. I put myself out there and people are actually interested. Bear in mind only one of my friends actually knows about this blog and linked to it from his. The rest of it is people I’ve met through Twitter, other blogs and randoms but not anyone that I actually know personally. This I consider to be a success.
My point is that, while 350 hits in a week is not world-changing, it is success. It shows that I have been successful in setting up a blog and keeping it stocked with content (either my deranged ramblings or assorted fiction) that other people are interested in. It is not a huge success. But it is a success.
Another success this week occurred just yesterday – I formalised, so to speak, a critique/beta partner relationship with Leona Bushman, another aspiring author and already a beta reader for various other people. She knows what I am trying to do and she is not afraid to tell me what she thinks is wrong with my writing. Another couple of people got pulled in by the vortex of Twitter happiness surrounding this, so I think we just started a very small critique club. The main thing is, I have a critique partner. A good critique partner. She has sent me some of her stuff too and she is a good writer. Call me picky, but I want to be critiqued by someone who knows what they’re doing. And by inference, she thinks I’m a good writer for exactly the same reason. There was a point where I would have sold my soul for a good critique partner. In the end I didn’t have to. I just joined Twitter and started networking. Oh, and started this blog. You see how one small success leads to another?
Over the last three days I have written a chapter a day of my novel. That’s between 1300 and 1400 words on my novel each day. Not only is this progress but it is regular. Now that I have a critique partner who has decreed (ok, I agreed to it) that we will write a minimum of one chapter a day, five days a week, this is likely to continue. Again, one success leading to another.
These are small things. They really are. But big things are made up of small components. Every small success takes you a step further towards your goals and they really are worthy of celebration. In just over a month I have gone from no one but my family and friends knowing about my writing aspirations to over a hundred people who didn’t previously know me from Adam, and that’s just my Twitter followers that I am fairly sure aren’t bots.
I used to think that celebrating each chapter was very stupid – how pathetic, I thought, to get all happy over 1200 words (my chapters ran a little shorter at that time). The book itself needs to be somewhere between 80 and 100k! 1200 is nothing! Except that it’s not nothing. It’s over 10% of your final book. You write 1200 words a day and in less than three months’ time you’ll have a 100,000 word manuscript. Celebrate these small moments, because they add up to the big ones. One day, those 1200 words a day will equal a finished first draft. Two edited chapters a day will equal a completed manuscript. Submission to five specifically targeted agents a week will equal representation.
One day your critique partner will be standing next to you in a bar at a convention cooing over the hardcover edition of your recently released book while a fan lurks, trying to muster the courage to come and ask for you to sign their hardcover edition of your recently released book because you are the AUTHOR. The PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
But you won’t get there without taking these small regular steps. Every one is important, so every one should be celebrated. Consider your work in progress as a very small child, whose every step, word and new tooth is something to be cherished, because they will all add up to the man or woman that child will become, out there as an adult, making their own way in the world.
And the tip I mentioned: Set your blog to automatically publicise your posts on Twitter and Facebook when you publish each one. But don’t leave it at that. Retweet/facebook that day’s new post every 1-2 hours. There is a lot going on on anyone’s Facebook or Twitter feed and things get lost in the rush. Also, bear in mind that you are interacting with people from all over the world and your readers may not be online at the moment you publish your post due to the time difference. So keep retweeting/refacebooking. You will see the difference in your numbers.