Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Stay the Course

 By J.T. Ellison

Only six years ago, I was a debut author. I remember the joy, the excitement, the sheer, unadulterated fear like it was yesterday. Now, with 13 books under my belt, I recognize how important it is to treasure the journey. Every moment of your writing career is precious – the good, and the bad. It’s what makes us better people, and stronger, happier, more capable writers.

You must treasure the journey to keep yourself on course to a long successful writing career.

Trust me, I know how easy it is to stray. I had it good way back when – I wrote in a vacuum, with only my own voice to derail me. Now there are so many negative, distracting voices clamoring for our attention -- Facebook, with its siren’s call. Goodreads and Amazon, where you can read your reviews and self-congratulate or self-flagellate at will. Twitter, where you can compare your number of followers and retweets and pithy witticisms with the masses. Blogs are a dime a dozen, and Instagram and Pinterest are a massive time suck.

And then there’s the doubly whammy of family and friends who can, with a well-placed, well-meaning word, create train wrecks of such magnificent proportion they’re hard to walk away from.

It’s all sound and fury signifying nothing. As such, you must find a way to retreat from the distractions, and chart your own course, so you can churn out books like kittens.

The Internet is your number one enemy. Whether you use apps to keep you away (Freedom, Self-Control) or you have the discipline of a general, you have to stay off the Internet. You have to live your life. See and feel and touch and taste. You must hear dialogue, not read it. You must experience all the world can offer – even if it’s taking a break to walk outside. Live, and your prose will be richer, your spirit more content. The only true satisfaction in the writer’s life in knowing it’s well lived.

Learn how to say no. No is your best friend. It is so tempting to agree to everything – guest blogging and touring and conferences and teaching engagements. They stroke the ego, and make us feel important and strong. And some of that is fine. Learn what fills your well socially, and stick to it. Half of us are introverts and half are extroverts. If going to a conference drains you, don’t do it. If it fires you up and you come home raring to tackle that manuscript, do. It’s that simple.

Lastly, respect your work. Respect your time. Get in a habit – find the best time for you to write and just do it already. You’ve already written one book. I know it can be scary tackling another. But here’s
a little secret: every book feels that way, whether it’s your 2nd or your 14th.  It gets worse, not better. All you can do is march those words onto the blank page, one by one, soldiers in your on-going war against writing entropy. Do that, every day, and believe in your work wholeheartedly, and I promise, success will follow.

J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of ten critically acclaimed novels, including Edge of Black and A Deeper Darkness, and her work has been published in over twenty countries. 

Her novel The Cold Room won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original and Where All The Dead Lie was a RITA® Nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. She lives in Nashville with her husband. Visit for more insight into her wicked imagination, or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick.


New Scotland Yard’s chief inspector Nicholas Drummond is on the first flight to New York when he learns his colleague, Elaine York, the “minder” of the Crown Jewels for the “Jewel of the Lion” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was found murdered. Then the centerpiece of the exhibit, the infamous Koh-i-Noor Diamond, is stolen from the Queen Mother’s crown. Drummond, American-born but raised in the UK, is a dark, dangerous, fast-rising star in the Yard who never backs down. And this case is no exception. 

Special Agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich from Coulter’s bestselling FBI series don’t hesitate to help Drummond find the cunning international thief known as the Fox. Nonstop action and high stakes intensify as the chase gets deadly. The Fox will stop at nothing to deliver the Koh-i-Noor to the man who believes in its deadly prophecy.  Nicholas Drummond, along with his partner, FBI Special Agent Mike Caine, lay it on the line to retrieve the diamond for Queen and country.

1 comment:

jenny milchman said...

JT, this is such excellent advice. I wish I could have you do this for me :) Seriously, will read these words again.