Brainstorming a new story idea can take mere moments of inspiration, but great writing takes time.
Writing can be exhilarating. Being able to conjure new plots, premises, and twists for your stories, as well as new story ideas in general, is impressive. However, the idea phase is just the beginning — the rest of your writing process involves dedicated time and effort in actually putting words to the page.
Instead of seeking instant gratification, focus on accountability.
It’s likely going to take years for you to enjoy the fruits of today’s writing efforts. That’s why writing is not for the faint-hearted — it requires incredible amounts of discipline and patience. But if you can find it in yourself to put in the time and the work, you will reap the rewards.
In today’s interview, author Kern Carter shows us the path he takes to hold himself accountable for his writing, his routine, and his career as an author.
OUR SPECIAL GUEST TODAY IS…
Author, blogger, and creator of CRY Creative Group
Purchase his latest novel Boys and Girls Screaming
What is the most memorable writing tip or technique that you have heard, and how did it influence your process?
My English prof told me it will take five years to learn how to write well, another five to build an audience, and another five to make enough money to sustain myself. That advice impacted my writing in two ways: first, it made me patient. I immediately recognized that writing would be a long game and it kept me patient. The second way this impacted my writing was that it kept me in a constant state of learning. Writing a novel is such a technical craft. Ever since graduating back in 2008, I regularly take online classes, watch videos on writing, and in 2019, put myself back through a full semester of college. The confidence I've gained from each of these educational undertakings has done more to elevate my writing than anything else.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in your publishing journey?
Validation. As a writer, I often felt like I was writing into the wind. Before the multiple rejections from agents and publishers, my blogs weren't met with much success early on. I was searching for validation not as a person, but as a writer, which was really difficult to accept. Once I focused on building my own community of readers and writers, the support and validation they gave me did wonders for my confidence. And trust me when I tell you that support and confidence in this industry are crucial. You don't want to feel alone and you don't want to feel like your writing isn't good enough.
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What is one thing you wish you had known about the publishing process before going through it yourself?
You know what... I heard a lot of negative stories about publishers. That they are distant and don't care about the art of your work, only about putting out a book that will sell. I have to say that with all three of my publishers, I have found almost the opposite to be true. While they certainly care about sales (as they should), they have been just as passionate about the story. The writing, the book cover, communicating with me to make sure I'm comfortable every step of the way—this has been my experience thus far and I think it's important for emerging authors to know that people within the industry care very much about you and your work.
That's a bit of a tangent that I'm not sure answers your question. Something else I wish I knew is a bit more specific. I currently have three publishing deals for which I am utterly grateful. However, I probably would've waited till I had sales numbers from my first published novel before signing my most recent publishing deal. There's a reason for that.
Advances and royalty rates can both be negotiated. However, you need some leverage in order to do so. If I could've proven that I am commercially viable (meaning I can sell books), then I would've had more leverage to negotiate higher royalty rates. And royalty rates are super important because it's how I intend to earn money for the rest of my life. My books are assets and as I pursue this life of a novelist, getting the most out of my assets is super important.
How do you balance finding time to write and managing other obligations and responsibilities?
I was part of the 5:00 AM club for years. This past year, I've been more like 5:30-6:00 AM, but either way, I wake up every single morning and write till 9:00 AM. Three to four hours of writing every single day, including weekends, left plenty of time for me to handle everything else.
Note that I currently work from home so that has helped immensely. However, I worked a lot of odd jobs when I started this morning routine and never wavered.
What's one writing "rule" or piece of advice that you decidedly break?
This is a good question and nothing immediately comes to mind. What I would say that's possibly a bit more conceptual than pragmatic is that I don't conform to the structure of my genre. What I mean is that by label, I am a YA author. The main characters in my novels are teenagers which is the general prerequisite for YA. But just because my characters are young doesn't mean I compromise depth or heavy themes. I have found a way to create these heavily layered stories through a
This keeps my stories accessible to readers who just want to enjoy the thrill of the storyline but leaves plenty of room for readers who want to explore the deep meanings of my novels' themes.
I just wanted to thank you for writing the one newsletter that I actually read all the way through every time I receive it. I hope you have a successful, peaceful and healthy new year 2023!