Writing Commandment # 7: Honor Thy Support Network
"No man is an island..." It takes many people to write a novel. The one actually doing the writing and the ones you write for, be they in your head or asking you to make dinner.
We've already covered Know Thy Characters. So now we move on to the people who can't wait to read what you churn out next, the ones who sign up for websites they have never heard of but are willing to go there for you. The ones who are disappointed when you haven't written anything in awhile and help you knock the flying doubt monkeys off of your back.
Whoever your home team is, be sure to thank them on a regular basis. Spouses and Significant others, especially. I was a navy wife for many years, I know what it's like to be able to do nothing but cheer from the sidelines. We all want to be recognized, whether for our intellectual or emotional contributions. here's a few ways to do so.
1. Say so. Yeah, okay, duh, and you may feel like a dork, but a simple thank you for being there can go a long way.
2. Quality time. Pick a day and make it no Internet day. Just be with your family and close friends for the whole day. Do yourself a favor and really be there, not with half your brain wondering who responded to your latest quip on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Buy them something with your first paycheck. My husband is a music junkie and I bought him an itunes gift card as well as a card with my first royalties check. This is a double bonus because it was the first paycheck I earned for myself with my writing. I told everyone so too, the lady at the bank, the guy in the card isle at Wal-Mart, the clerk who rang up the sale. It was a good day all around.
4. Dedicate your book to them. Don't wait for a sale before you write a dedication and page of acknowledgements. I do it immediately after finishing the rough draft so i don't forget who was the most supportive, be it my husband, my best friend for listening to me gripe, my grandmother who passed away, the critique partner who pointed out the errors of my ways or my boys for not burning the house down while I was writing.
5. Keep in mind, writing is a job. It's a creative endevor and a little different than working the late shift at the local shop-n-rob, but a job nonetheless. Treat it as such, put in your hours, then go home. Be sure to take days off too, and go on vacation every now and again. A great time to do this is after you finish the first draft and your Beta's are hard at work, or when the thing is polished and you have sent several queries out. Before the rejections start to pile up, give it a rest, I promise, you'll be in a better place, mentally, to deal with them. You can't hurt your novel's feelings if you go MIA for a spell but the people around you are a different matter.
6. Give 'em free swag. Mine's Hag Swag ;-) T-shirts, mousepads, magnets,key chains, bookmarks. Whatever you have, give those closest to you first dibs. Again double bonus because you are getting free promotion with it, too.