Like many authors, this is often the time of year when I run out of steam. By the time I’ve written a year’s worth of newsletters, blogs, and Facebook posts, everything begins running together and I find myself fresh out of ideas. This month’s post will definitely not be rocket science since many of my writer colleagues are far more experienced and savvy than I, but I would like to take the opportunity to mention some things that work for me when I’m in a bit of a funk.
The “what if” game is one many writers use. That question has been the premise of many a book. When we visited Alaska in August, the guide pointed out an island that a millionaire had purchased. He was the only person who lived on it but ended up leaving because taking a boat out to pick up food and supplies every day proved too much for the elderly gentleman. As we passed the island, I kept thinking, “What if some young woman inherited that island with only one house on it and she was from New York City, unaccustomed to the rugged terrain of the Alaskan wilderness?” Before we finished the tour, I was always plotting a book in my head.
When my book sales slump, and this happens more than I care to admit, I pour myself a nice cup of coffee, hunker down with our two dogs, Gypsy and Bella, and take a deep breath. Sometimes I discover that my characters in a novel are too much alike and are all blending together. In that event, I pick up my favorite book on character development and head back to the drawing board. I remind myself that even very successful authors fall into the trap of creating the very same characters with different names. As writers, we definitely don’t want to do that!
But sometimes even when the muse returns, I’m filled with self-doubt, wondering how I can possibly compete with all the other authors out there-authors who have written a hundred books-authors with thousands of fans who don’t have to do giveaways to gain followers. And that’s when I pull out my “good luck charm.”
My good luck charm is a picture of me at my first book signing. Forty people attended and people began calling my husband Mr. Gray (my pen name is Tessa Gray). I remember the rush I received as people opened up my book and said, “This is awesome. Please sign a copy of my book so I can show my friends that I know a real author.”
The very last thing I do to get the muse going is to study the photo taken at my 50th year high school reunion. Some of these ladies and I went clear back to fourth grade. Back then I was a foster kid, scared to death of attending a new school. But as nine-year-old children, they welcomed me with open arms, and through it all, they always believed in me. When you’re a writer, you find out quickly who your true friends are. And sometimes those friends can go back decades.
As the year begins coming to a close, I encourage you all to reach out to the people to support you, to continue being your very own cheerleader, and write the best damn book that you can.