My 5 Secrets to Being a Happy Author

Thanks to many friends – old and new – it’s been such a great last week and I can’t wait for what’s to come. I would say you have no idea of what this means to me, but most authors I know feel the same way. We’re overwhelmed by positive reception, warmed right down to the soul that our writing has kept your attention even after you’ve finished reading. In light of the warm fuzzies, I wanted to share my personal secrets for how I got so lucky. Here are 5 of suggestions on how to be a happy author.

1. Have a great writing space. It sounds simple, I know. I write a lot on the couch but I tend to get distracted by the TV or my husband’s video games. (Then there’s this photo to the left – as great as this looks, there’s a TV to my left; with the fire going, it’s too awesome and comfy. You need a non-distracting space.) Having your own space is important. I suggest keeping it clean and organized, but I’m also a bit of a neat freak (much like my Witch Hearts protagonist, Ruby!) – I dust my desk about once a week to keep my butt in the chair rather than random cleaning frenzies that prevent me from writing. If you have everything in its place so that you’re ready to write for extended periods of time, it will definitely make you happy.

Keep your favorite things on your desk – whether it’s superhero bobbleheads, chocolate treats, or a decanter of wine (yeah, I said it), things go smoothly when you’re happy to be at your desk. I have my nerdy figurines, my super powers poster for GIFTED inspiration (plus that photo on the right wall is of a Ferris Wheel), my writing journals lined up within easy reach, and I always keep my dry erase board handy for reminders and to-do lists. It’s organized, but still ME, which is important in staying focused.

2. Write what you want.ย I simply cannot stress this enough. If you force yourself to write a particular story, character, or even style, that isn’t something you love or are comfortable with, it’s going to show. I’m a firm believer in this! Write what you would want to read. It’s the best advice I can give. I’m an indie author and proud of it – I know GIFTED is unique, hard to place, but I wrote what I would want to read as a fantasy adventure fan, ya know? It’s still a fun story and I’m more confident of my decision every day.

3. It’s okay to take a short break. I totally understand how writers might balk at this, but hear me out. I’m not talking weeks or months. Think more like a few nights. In addition to our dream careers as authors, we juggle with having lives, families, and jobs. Sometimes you just have to decompress. (Now, I don’t have kids, so I have no say in how you get a night off. You’re on your own there.) It’s not necessarily about a mental block either, but rather sometimes don’t you just need to step away? I’m the Social Media Editor for Leisure Publishing, which means I handle several of the publications’ multiple social sites. I’m plugged in all day, everyday and I accept that it takes away from my writing. There are some nights I can’t do anything but eat dinner, watch a movie/TV with JLo, cuddle with my dog, and go to bed. I try to do most of my writing on the weekends which means I don’t feel so guilty with crashing after work. I can write if it hits me but maybe I just wanna watch Game of Thrones and paint my nails, okay?

4. Surround yourself with a support group. My dog knows the plot twists before anyone else, as I am constantly talking out loud to him as he plays ย with Mr. Fox on the office floor. He’s my biggest cheerleader! My husband, mother, family, and friends are all my biggest fans. They swear it’s not because they know me, but all the same, it’s good to have them anyway. They respect the time I put into my hobby and maybe even appreciate that I’m achieving a dream goal. Then there’s the online community I’ve been welcomed in, from indie writers to book bloggers who have all so great to work with and know. That social media bit about building relationships? It’s true. But if they get to know you and then support you? You’ll have a friend and a reader for your entire career. And don’t forget about the friendships even as your support group grows. They got you where you are today.

5.ย Eat a good meal. You laugh now, but here’s my theory: every good meal serves as a writing tool. Think of the way you describe how the steak tastes, how smooth the sweet potatoes are, how the onions are perfectly caramelized. In my household, we go for quick pastas, frozen pizzas, and other things that aren’t hard on the budget. We like really good food, which means a really good steak is a wonderful treat. When my aunt gave me a Fresh Market gift card for Christmas, my husband made a meal so good I still look at the photo. That’s what I want my readers to do: pay attention to our stories and savor the details and characters even after they’ve finished reading. Small details keep a reader going, as well as keep your writing sharp. That, and you get a great meal when you decide to go all out one night. A delicious bonus.

There are my five suggestions on how to be a happy author! What are some of the ways you think we can be happier authors?

9 thoughts on “My 5 Secrets to Being a Happy Author

    • LizLong says:

      Thanks! I highly recommend it, if only to keep it all in one place ๐Ÿ™‚ But sometimes it’s okay to be thwarted. As long as it’s not EVERY night ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    OK, Liz, I must say that #2 is gold. I’ve been hearing this a lot lately–from an instructor at my last MFA residency, from recent reviewing of footage from an interview with a successful novelist–so it must be time for me to read it, as I approach completion of my memoir and wonder who the heck would want to read it. I would. So that’s a start!

    • LizLong says:

      Honest Patrick, one of the best tricks to writing your book – including making good edits – is to read it as a reader would, someone who doesn’t know you or the story. I ask questions like a reader would (“Well, if he did this, why doesn’t this mean..?”, “Wouldn’t someone be confused, oh, they explain it two pages later, maybe move that up”), which often fixes any weird plot holes or character development that I might not catch as an author who is familiar with the story! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading – hope it helps!

  2. Laura A. H. Elliott says:

    HA! I just wrote about food & books today:) I love your happy author 5. Great post Liz. *waves* You inspire me to clean my office! And you reminded me to be grateful for the fact that I have a “room of my own” SO important.

  3. bentitusmusic says:

    Lots of good stuff here! I’ll have to post up a new pic of my home studio workspace. This also inspires me to get a filing cabinet for all of the random papers I have lying around my computer on my desk…

    • LizLong says:

      Awesome Ben! Take a photo when you’re all set up. I’m always much happier to sit down and stay focused when I don’t have ways to distract myself (like cleaning!). Hope you’re doing well – tell that pretty fiancee I said hello! ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

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