SHELF LIFE: Criminal Habits
Today is a guest post from New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell. She’s fun, talented and a good friend–or so she tells me. Anyway, she’s here to tell us what a terrible person she is.
What are my worst writing habits?
Someone recently asked me about my worst habits as an author. Sadly, I have too many to list here, but I decided to give you the top five that would be considered criminal in writer’s court, punishable by not getting as much writing done as I think I should. Here are the top 5, in reverse order. Try not to be too shocked.
5. Worrying about deadlines or sales or anything else. It’s a terrible waste of time, very neurotic. And I do it anyway. But I’m trying to stop. I am. Let me just check my numbers on Amazon and then I’ll be right back.
4. Remembering only the bad reviews. My first novel, A Trace of Smoke, got almost uniformly great reviews, including starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library Journal. Do I remember quotes from them? No. But four years after it came out I can still recite all the damning bits from the ‘mixed’ New York Times review. Obviously, this is a trend that must be reversed. I must set about memorizing the good reviews and blurbs and become positively insufferable.
3. Not backing things up. I do back up my work. But not my iPhone. Not when I’m traveling. This one ranks so high because a couple of gallons of the Chesapeake Bay killed my iPhone with all my pictures from my New York tour on it. I should have known better. I did know better. And I got punished for it. So, now I back up more. In fact, I just went and backed something up now.
2. Over-researching. My books often have historical elements, so I have to do a lot of research. But I overdo it because it’s just plain fascinating. I find out tons of things I don’t really need to know to finish the book. For example, I have a scene with Hitler in it in A Night of Long Knives. I read tons of diary entries of people who were at that event, bits from the Nuremberg trial, historical analyses, etc. I compiled them all and picked out what I needed for my scene. That should have been enough. But I kept going. I call it the “what would Hitler smoke?” syndrome. He’s not smoking in the scene, so I don’t need to know it. But I do. In fact, that’s a trick question. Hitler was a nonsmoker. (hey, I did get to use that bit of research somewhere!)
1. Spending too much time on the Internet. Sure, I can pretend that some of it’s promotion and some of it even is, but I think I’d get a lot more done if I moved to a remote island with no Internet connectivity. Wait, I did live on a remote island. It didn’t help. The Internet was there, too.
What are your writer’s crimes? Reader’s crimes?