New Year’s resolutions - write that book you’ve always been talking about


Short blogs and essays increase the chances of the actual book being read. At least that’s my experience -- more people read my last book of essays than my 382 page suspense novel.

Murder mysteries are among my favorite things to read, but they are tricky for a new novelist. They look at the idea of writing volumes of fact or fiction, and then get completely stopped and overwhelmed in their creative pursuits.

Try writing little essays first and see what happens! You can either stitch the essays together into a larger plot line, see where the mind takes you in the writing process to un-conceal a plot line that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, or perhaps end up publishing a book of essays.

I began writing essays about three years ago as an exercise in breaking a long streak of writing block. They amused me, people liked reading them in the Irish press, and now we have one volume of 'This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks' in the can and a sequel halfway written out of this little exercise!

One more sore point before I get to the good stuff -- less than 100 writers are walking around America slinging ink as their primary source of income.  Many self-published books sell about the same amount of books as there are family members, and Facebook friends, so you can do your own personal math.

Some folks like me are lucky enough to get some national and international press, but even that only brings in a couple of thousand more than the average bear. If your book turns $5,000 in profit, consider yourself in the 1% of an “Occupy Bookshelves” movement.

So, don’t quit yer day job, laddies and lassies!

Are you discouraged yet? That wasn’t my intent -- quite the opposite. My writing life has made my life rich and delicious beyond my dreams and beyond any measure.

While there are very few zeroes in my royalty checks, I have almost tripled my income in my chosen profession of medical device sales during a decade that has seen that industry shed jobs by the thousands in the last decade.

The funny thing about being fully self-expressed 24/7 is that your creativity is off the charts and your poor boss has trouble finding things to keep you challenged. They throw anything and everything at your insatiable creative engine just to feed it.

You find yourself getting immersed in fun projects that give you a corner office perspective and in a blink of an eye, you begin to think and act like someone who has a corner office, and then voila! You find yourself with a vice president’s title and are bestowed your very own corner office.

I remember moaning to Higgins Clark about how little time I had to write. Now, I never complain about how busy I am because writing fulfills me, and most of what life throws me doesn’t seem so burdensome.

Now that I just shut up and write, I find I have more time on my hands. That has allowed me to go back for my master’s degree, learn bass guitar, start a web business venture, write a weekly column for the Irish Voice, consult for businesses on sales force effectiveness, coach people on their effectiveness and power through Landmark Education, and write at a quicker pace since I began working on my first book.

So, let’s review, shall we? If 2012 is your year to write it all down, you need to be prepared for some things.

Be prepared for lonely nights at a monitor, getting more frustrated each time the cursor blinks.

Be prepared to laugh and cry at the monitor so much that you fear the day will come when the monitor writes a tell-all book of its own.

Be prepared to not have a lot to show in the bank account.

Be prepared to have other riches show up in your life.

Be prepared to play big or go home.

Be prepared to shut up and write.

Write on!