We’re constantly bombarded with advice. There are rules that we must learn before we break them (good advice in my experience). Writers have to have a social media platform. We need to build a following (not bad advice either). We have give away at least some of our stories (less helpful). Then there is well intentioned if wildly different advice. It covers editing, querying, hybrid publishing, and a host of duties to self-publish. No wonder so many authors feel overwhelmed.
I’ve sat through dozens and dozens of webinars. I’ve lost track of how many hours of commercials disguised as webinars I’ve watched. Not to mention more online classes than I can remember. Most fell on a spectrum between useful and garbage that wasted my time. I wasted more time than I’d like to think about. The worst of this garbage centered around a cult-like guru. Who, through personality alone, would help their followers do something life changing.
Don’t worry, this isn’t the set-up for another webinar. I have no class to teach. I’m not selling a product that will revolutionize your writing routine. There is no pitch for a masterclass at the end of this post. I’m just ranting about how many of those pitches I endured before I realized how foolish all of it was.
I’ve taken classes, signed up for programs (and cancelled some too). I might not have a finished manuscript without one of those programs. I’m still of the opinion that good online advice is rare. For every worthwhile subscription or monthly membership, there are countless charlatans who only want to make you feel good and pocket some more of your money.
I’ll share an epiphany I had almost a year ago. Before I started the program that helped me finish my debut novel, Fantastic America. I don’t need any of those programs to be successful, and neither do you. The good, the bad, and the ugly programs aren’t the secret to our success, we are. We have to put in the work. We need to learn the fundamental skills to tell good stories. Then our work will (literally) speak for itself.
Bookshelves are lined with tomes from authors who wrote their stories. They jumped through all the same hoops we have before us. Some of them may have taken online classes, some didn’t. Some may be hawking their own process now through a third party or to make a few extra bucks. The truth is, we really only need to practice our craft, read the works of our peers.
Write. Keep on writing until the passion and excitement inside you ripples across the page. Build worlds. Develop characters, instill them with life, hopes, dreams and fears. Show AND tell stories that leap off the page and into the minds of your readers. Our tribe is out there, our audience is waiting, and only we can write what they need.