Do It Your Own Way
“Do it your own way,” Mom would tell me. “It doesn’t matter. If you like it then it’s just as good.” “Use your own imagination,” she’d say. “Your idea might be better than the pattern.” Without either of us realizing it, my mother, who never read parenting books, was affirming my imagination, bolstering my courage and building my confidence to step out of a pattern and do things my own way. Her gentle encouragement shows in the way I handle discouragement, rejections, and do-overs. I just keep at it. Every time I tried to make a puppet theatre out of a box, threw it out and made a new one, it was better than the one before. I didn’t mind rewriting a book report; I knew the next write would be better. Just keep at it, she taught me. “Don’t quit because you don’t like the way something turns out. .................
I still do things my own way. I create, and do over until I’m satisfied. I’m not painting snowmen for plays or creating African masks out of paper plates anymore, not writing book reports for grades. But I am a writer. And create is what I do.
Writers must write their own way. There are patterns, “to-dos” and “not-to-dos” as well as accepted style. Sticking to the pattern many authors can be successful. But the memorable books are the ones that broke with the pattern, made a new tradition, a surprise. And those took many do-overs, I can promise you. An overnight success started ten years ago!
Marketing your work also must be done your own way. You are the salesman for your book. There is a generic pattern and every conference will tell you this is the way marketing should be done. But, the only right way is your own way. You need to know your market, know where to find them and take your product to them front and center, with imagination, courage and self- confidence.
Don’t quit because you don’t like the way it turns out. So you didn’t sell as many as you’d hoped. Why not? Learn and try it again. This is what writers do. They create. They write. They sell what they write. Only you know if it’s a success. You will, of course, have your own criteria for success. I hope you had a mom like mine.