Top 5 on my “TO DON’T” List

M.C. Escher Drawing Hands
M.C. Escher
Drawing Hands

I am a faithful reader of the life affirming and inspiring blog, Marc and Angel Hack Life (Practical Tips for Productive Living). I read every post and ponder a lot about what they say. Yesterday’s post 20 Things that Belong on Everyone’s “TO-DON’T” List  got me thinking. So I decided to blog about my top 5 with regards to writing:

“Be a voice, not an echo.  Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.  Find the courage to bring your ideas and dreams to life.  Don’t compare your progress with that of others.  We all need our own time to travel our own distance.  It’s perfectly OK to be different.” (Marc and Angel Hack Life)

So here’s my top 5 don’ts. (and I have no idea why some of the letters insist on being so big)

1. Write like someone else

There’s a smorgasbord of talent out there and while it’s important for me to study it, I do not wish to copy it. Maybe they do make hoards of money and draw stampeding crowds of readers, but I’m not them, and as David Morell says a writer should not aim to be a second rate someone else. They should be the best at being themselves.

2. Forget how lucky I am to be  writing

I’m really lucky to be able to sit down and spend time at my craft. This is easy to remember when I’m flying through an exciting bit of first draft. Not so easy when I’m slugging through editing a piece that just won’t gel. lol.

My blog now has more than 2000 followers. It’s fun and an honor to be able to communicate with so many people.

3. Meander from my own voice and vision

I could try to jump on the BDSM bandwagon, or write YA, but neither interest me. I need to follow my own path. I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

4. Let criticism swamp me

I received a so-called ‘good rejection’ this week from a NY city agent. Talk about an oxymoron <blush>. Rejections never feel good, even when they say it was a hard decision. But, as one friend said to me, “That means you’re getting closer.” Maybe.

What I do know is that you receive all kinds of criticism for your work in this business. I’m learning to mine it and use the gems to improve my craft.

5. Give up

Enough said.

Check out the number of rejections these writers got at Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity. Teaser – C.S. Lewis -800!

Your turn. What’s on your “TO-DON’T’ list? Sorry for shouting.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

10 thoughts on “Top 5 on my “TO DON’T” List”

  1. I’d have to think about that – and it is worth spending some time on. Yours are all good, but I like #1. No one “breaks out” by copying someone else. We can’t help but be influenced, hopefully for the better, but discovering and sticking to your own path, your own voice, is crucial.


    1. Hi Judy
      I think you’re right. Sometimes it looks easier to follow others, but it doesn’t work out in the long run. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  2. I like number one best. It’s true that you’re the best at being your self. I’m sorry to hear of your rejection. For what it’s worth I think a lot of times it’s what they’ve already committed to and it’s always easier to say yes. Although if you go on to become the next J.K. Rowling of E.L. James they’ll be kicking themselves!


    1. Hi Pat
      Thanks for your condolences. I think I’ve stopped wincing.
      It’s the agent btw that you have a phone relationship with. I’m guessing she likes medical thrillers (and your great writing).
      I think you’re right that there are many different reasons behind rejections, and I do like to imagine their chagrin when/if I become popular. lol.
      Funny business we’re in.
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Happy writing


      1. She may still reject me. And when I sent her the first sentence she sent back an email saying it sounded like a creepy serial killer. She was kinda right but I really thought it grabbed you and drew you in. So did my critique group. You’re right, it’s a funny business.


      2. Hi Pat
        I’ve got my fingers crossed for you Pat. I liked her, and she does seem to like the island.
        Interesting story about your opening sentence. Go figure!


  3. Aw, sorry about the rejection, Jo-Ann. I have a story–don’t I always? I have a friend in my writing chapter. She did all the things a writing aspiring to publication should do: conferences, classes, contests, submitting, writing, rewriting, and all of it over hundreds of times. After many rejections, she decided to self-publish, and she came out with several books all close together. I bought 3 of her books, two I’ve read. The second right after the first, not because they were a series. No. they were stand alone books. But because she such a great writer! She refused to do those things in the Don’t Do List. She stayed true to her writing and her voice. Her name is Chris Kenniston. I read THE HOMECOMING and HOPE’S CORNER. I look forward to reading her others. I swear, as I read, I thought, what’s the matter with the publishers that they didn’t pick this author? I have no clue, but I’m so glad that Chris stuck to her guns. Otherwise, I and others would have missed out on some good reading.
    You stay true to your voice and writing, Jo-Ann. There’s an audience out here waiting! Number 5 is the most important! Don’t ever give up! 🙂


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