Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I Know For Sure For Writers By Misty Evans

Today I welcome to my blog a great wonderful writer and a great friend, Misty Evans. I'm both thrilled and honored to have her joining me.

Misty Evans is an award-winning, multi-published author of romantic thrillers and paranormal comedy. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. Her debut novel, Operation Sheba, won a CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2008 and a CAPA nomination in 2009. Visit her at or .

Since the premiere issue of O Magazine, Oprah’s done a What I Know For Sure column on the last page. It’s usually the first thing I read in her magazine because it always gets me thinking about life and what I know for sure. When Autumn invited me to guest blog, I had just reread Oprah’s column from November 2008 – a collection of twenty of her all time Top 20. As a writer and published author, I have my own list of What I Know For Sure and thought I’d share a few of them with you.

No matter how many successes we’ve experienced, fear of failure can stop us dead in our tracks.
I have four stories published – my three-book Super Agent Series, and my Witch Lit novella, Witches Anonymous, which won a contest. All of my stories have hit My Bookstore and More’s Top Ten during their release week. I’ve received dozens of good reviews and even an award for Operation Sheba, the first book in my Super Agent Series. I’ve had pubbed authors and general readers alike email me after reading one of my books to rave about it.

But every time I sit down to work on my latest manuscript, the Doubt Demons snuggle up beside me. They fill my head with negative thoughts. They freeze my fingers on the keyboard. “You need to do more research,” they say. “Your muse is burned out. Give her a rest.” They tempt me with distractions. “Why don’t you check email/Twitter/writing groups? There’s a Ghosthunters marathon on today. You can write tomorrow.”

Fear is an ugly four-letter word. The Doubt Demons are in essence fear of failure, fear of rejection. Hard to face head on, so I sneak around them to give myself the courage to hit the keyboard. I light a candle, put on some relaxing background music and dangle a piece of chocolate in front of my laptop. I talk back to the Doubt Demons . “This is the first draft and I don’t have anything to prove.” If I make my writing goal on that day, I do reward myself with something other than the chocolate. An hour of Bravo or Twitter or lunch with a friend.

Being a successful writer is 10% inspiration and 90% determination.
I love my muse. She’s brilliant and wears fabulous shoes. However, she leaves me alone a lot, facing the Doubt Demons and the blank page on my lonesome. If I waited for her to show up in order to write, I’d still be working on my first story. A story I started in eighth grade.

But I’m determined if not brave. I love to spin stories and I’m completely, 100% on board with becoming a life-long, professional author. Goals and dreams are written in my journal. This year I’m writing YA and seeking new representation. I’ve given myself ten years to hit the New York Times Best Seller List but I’ve made a plan to do it in seven or less.

One caveat to this What I Know For Sure is that, like Alice, once I fall down the rabbit’s hole and immerse myself in a story, my muse usually shows up in her Laboutins with a brilliant plot device or line of dialogue that I would never have thought of. She touches me with her sparkly creative wand and, bam, the heavens open and words rain down.

What I know for sure is that when you most need the muse to show up is when you most need to force yourself to put hands on the keyboard and start typing. Don’t wait for her to guide you. Put on your own pair of fabulous shoes and start walking. Before you know it, she’ll be skipping along beside you.

No” doesn’t mean “never”. It just means “not right now”.
Remember that old saying about the only two sure things in life are death and taxes? Well, I’d like to add one more. Rejection. No matter who you are or what you do, rejection is part of life.

As a writer who’s lived through countless rejections, I can tell you they will not kill you, and to use another saying, they will make you stronger…IF you think of them as a tool and not a personal attack.

First, let your ego have a meltdown for a specified amount of time, say twenty-four hours. Rejection sucks, plain and simple, and denying it will only offset the emotional flooding you’ll feel at some later, openly embarrassing point in your life, like your kid’s parent-teacher conference. Better to open the gates, get it all out, and move one ready to face your writing again.

Next, take steps to rebuild your self-confidence, as a person and as a writer. Every small step, every goal you’ve achieved so far is an earned accomplishment. Every sentence, every chapter, is a hard-won masterpiece. Keep a “pride” list or “success” list on display where you can read it every day. Fill it with the goals you’ve achieved and compliments you’ve received. Over time, those successes will far outweigh the failures.

Last, but not least, find the positive in the negative. When I say use rejection as a tool, I mean glean anything you can from it to make yourself a better writer. Like author Suzanne Finnemore says, “Rejection can be like mulch: dirty, smelly and essential to growth.”

Rejections can give you perspective and help you overcome your writing weaknesses. They can push you to up your determination and cull the crap.
And the next time around, you’ll be one step closer to a “yes”.

No one else can walk your journey for you.
Expressing yourself is a fundamental human experience. Be true to the small voice within and remember that you have two selves. Your inward self that remains untouched by the world, which is your soul, and your outward self, which is your personality. Respect, understand and nurture both, and your writing will change lives. Including your own!

So tell me, what do you know for sure?

Thanks to Autumn for inviting me here today. To learn more about me and my stories, visit or chat with me at .


  1. Great words of wisdom, Misty!!!! I know love really does conquer all and everyone needs a HEA!


  2. Terrific insight and VERY thought-provoking. As for what I know for sure..... for a writer, when all is said and done, it's between you and the page. Make it happen!

  3. Tessy, I totally agree! HEAs for everyone...wouldn't that be a great platform?

    Eileen, thanks for adding to the list. It IS between the writer and the page, isn't it? If we don't make it happen, it won't. Plain and simple.

  4. Hey, Autumn and Eileen,

    Thanks for the advice.

    I know that not all readers like the same authors' writing styles. My critique partners like some books I don't and the reverse is true. It stands to reason one editor might love a book another editor wouldn't buy.

    Someone will like my story and yours!

  5. I loved your comment about nuturing both the inner and the outer. I think we are so busy in our lives that we forget to both.

    Terri P

  6. Absolutely, Mary. We all have different tastes in reading. Finding the agent/editor who loves your story and can't wait to talk about it is like winning the jackpot!

  7. Very inspirational post! Thank you.

  8. Hi Tess. Glad the post inspired you! Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Thanks for the great post.
    We all are unique and like different genres to read. Thank God!

  10. Terri, if you're like me, it's easy to get caught up in 'doing' all the time. Writing, marketing, blogging, chatting. Sometimes I need to shut off the outer stuff and let my brain rest. If I don't nurture the inner world, I can't bring my characters to life. If I don't bring them to life, they aren't worth devoting a story to because no one will read them. We all definitely need to nurture both. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  11. The one thing I know for certain is that personal tastes vary widely.

    You can't let one rejection kill your style when you might be one editor away from finding someone who understands (and enjoys) the way your write.

  12. Misty, Your response to to Terri is so true. You need to take care of you, refresh the well so to speak if you're going to draw from it.

    I think many writers stress themselves out because they don't have hours on end to write. Honestly, most of my writing is done between life.

    Great post. WINK.

  13. Hailey, I agree. Stay determined and have faith in your writing. It only takes one 'yes' to turn your life around. Thank you for stopping by!

  14. Autumn, a great deal of my writing is done in between life too! In fact, some days, I swear it helps me hit my word count if I have to work it in amongst kids, hubby, appointments and my mother's phone calls. LOL.
    I really appreciate you having me as a guest today! It's been great to read what others consider their own What I Know For Sure mantras.

  15. Sorry I'm a little late to be chiming in but I LOVED your post. It's so important to remember these basic things. I often forget them as I type away alone in my office. Can't wait to read your stories. Thanks, Misty and Autumn

  16. Judy, you're not alone. From time to time, we all forget these basic truths. Since no one else can create your story, it can be a lonely venture. Lucky for all of us, we can reach out and share our progress.
    Good luck and keep writing!

  17. What a great post! I love it and I noticed that the Doubt Demons are plural : - ) that's so they can attack from front and back LOL.

  18. Ha! Magnolia, you are so right. Those pesky Doubt Demons get me coming and going. Amazing how much power they can exert.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!