12 Years a Writer

Matt Haig tells us what he’s learned after a dozen years as a professional writer, and we’re, hoping, praying, that he isn’t just funny, he’s also right.

Cuz what he’s passing on to us here is awesome:

by Matt Haig

I have been a published writer for twelve years this month. Here are some things I have learnt in that time.

matt-hait-writer1. Agents know the best restaurants.

2. E-books didn’t exist 12 years ago. They do now. No biggie.

3. Social media is the best thing that has ever happened to writers. (See point 10.)

4. I will never write more than one 90,000 word book a year. Twelve years = ten books.

5. The word ‘philosophical’ can be used as an insult, providing you are an Amazon reviewer.

6. If you write what people want you to write your career will be a lot shorter that if you write what you KNOW you should write.

7. If you can get yourself readers – and get them to like your work – you have yourself a career. It’s not about knowing the right people. It’s about knowing yourself.

8. They say that to be a writer you need a thick skin. This is true. But the bummer is that to write well you need to be a hypersensitive freak.

9.You will never write more than one 90,000 word book a year.You will never write more than one 90,000 word book a year.

10.Social media is the worst thing that has ever happened to writers. (See point 3.)

 11. We like stories because time moves us forward, when what we want to do is move sideways. We want to live every possible life, not just ours. Stories are how we can window shop other possible lives without committing to them. They teach us everything. This was true 12 years ago. It is true now.

12. Bigger advances are just bigger reasons to be dropped next time around. If you get an advance of, say, £60,000, and that book sells 2000 you will get probably get dropped by that publisher, like I did for my third novel. When my agent found me a new publisher I actually said ‘I don’t want too high an advance. At first’.

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