For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

January 10, 2017

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On:

Happy New Year!!! I am in LA at the moment, on the #WayWitch tour (hence the late newsletter! Sorry about that!). I hope to see some of you at B&N at the Grove tonight--or anywhere else on the rest of the tour! See dates below!

In other news, I did a wrap-up thread of things I learned in 2016 on Twitter. It was hands-down the toughest year of my life on so many levels, from personal challenges to work/writing challenges to simple exhaustion and breakdown of my mental health. It was also a tough year for the world at large, and yet...

It was my best year because I learned SO MUCH. I honestly wouldn't change anything (except who won the election, ha), and as the year switched over from 2016 to 2017, I felt a surprisingly deep sense of calm and readiness.

Here's why (or at least here's my guess for why): Sometimes, in karate, the only way to learn is to get punched in the face so many times that you FINALLY have no choice but to learn to block, to punch back, to shuffle aside -- or sometimes, to just take the pain and keeping going.

2016 was my year -- and the world's, I think -- for getting punched in the face until everything was a bloody pulp. But I gotta say: I'm finally learning. And I think the rest of the world is too. Meaning 2017 will be the year WE DO BETTER. It'll be the year we get up, dust ourselves off, and fight back in whatever form that might be.

For the Mislanders:

Windwitch in stores TODAY!!
Witchlands Fan Art Feature


The book that broke me is here. Literally, the hardest book i've ever written--the book over which I wrote tens of moaning newsletters, the book that sent me into countless panic attacks, the book that I only JUST finished a few months ago...

It's here.

Windwitch is In stores.


In the acknowledgments of Windwitch, I describe how "it takes a village to create a book." So many people work tirelessly behind the scenes at Tor Teen (and UK Tor) to turn my dreadful writing into something actually readable. From my editor to the typesetter to the final proofreaders, there were ~25 people at Tor Teen alone involved in the creation of the book.

There would simply be no Windwitch without them.

And of course, there are all the other support people in my life. From my husband keeping me alive (and reminding me to shower) to my powerhouse agent who keeps me (and my publisher) on track to the invaluable writer friends who brainstormed or critiqued or were simply a phone call away when I needed to have a massive meltdown.

There would be no Windwitch without them either.

And then there are the readers. From the incredible Witchlanders to YOU all, my dear Misfits & Daydreamers, to the countless others I'll probably never meet. I would have no CAREER without you. You are truly the reason I continued fighting--that I started over again and again in pursuit of the Right Story for Windwitch. I didn't want to let you down. I wanted to give you the best possible sequel I could, since you all give me your best day in and day out.

So thank you. To everyone. This book is triumph not just for me, but for all of YOU who helped me reach this day.

And now, because my publisher would kill me if I didn't do this, here are links to buy Windwitch. No pressure to buy it -- NEVER any pressure. But just in case you forgot/were waiting until after the holidays/decided you suddenly DO like me and want to keep me fed, then American & Canadian friends can get the book at any of these links:
amazon bn indiebound bam ibooks kobo
And thank you. Again, thank you.

OH, and if you need a recap of Truthwitch, then check out this quick GIF-version I made. (Spoilers ahead!)

One of the COOLEST things about being an author is, without a doubt, getting fan art. As someone who used to make so much fan art (all of it terrible) for my favorite series, knowing that people do this about my series...

Wait. You don't believe I made fan art? Then what about THIS glorious/terrible attempt at drawing Lizzie Bennet? (I went on a Jane Austen kick my freshman year of high school.)

Yeah....So THAT happened.
So, to show YOU all how much it means to me, I thought I'd do some "fan art features" from time to time.
Now, without further ado, check out these incredible creations! From left to right and top to bottom: Iseult by Diana, Iseult + Aeudan by Clari, Safi by Alexandra, Safi & Iseult by Leo, Iseult + Aeduan by Ellie.

Note: if you don't see your fan art here, but you DO want it featured in the future, please reply to this email and let me know!

For the Daydreamers:

To Write Everyday or Not To Write Everyday

Recently, I tweeted something about not buying into the importance of writing every day. (Read the thread here.)
I was surprised by how many people answered—specifically, how many people offered a relieved, “Thank you for this.” And, as you might expect, this got me thinking.
To preface what follows, though, I feel it’s important to say: if you write every day and that works for you, then that is AWESOME. Goodness knows I envy those writers who can churn out thousands of words every single day.
Not too long ago, I thought I was one of those people! For every book I have ever written, I have made myself churn out new pages almost every day. And I’ve participated (and “won”) NaNoWriMo like…3? 4? times.
In my head, being Miss Good Professional Writer meant I had to write daily. Even if it was just meeting a "non-intimidating goal.”
Then Windwitch came along. And every habit that had worked for me in the past DID NOT.
Like most people would do when they find themselves writing in circles, tossing every day’s work, starting over again and again, or generally hating everything in their story, I tried to find a reason.
I mean, you can see in all my newsletters over the past 2 years: I was floundering. I was lost. I was feeling pretty hopeless, and the GUILT of not being Miss Good Professional Writer was eating me alive.
Why wasn’t it working? Was it this drama in my life that was causing me so much emotional strain? Or maybe it was that drama over there that had been a black cloud for so long?
Oh, or maybe it was the fact that once I started drafting Windwitch, all the things I’d planned to write no longer felt right…
Maybe I just needed more incubation time—it was SUCH a big story/world/cast of characters compared to my first series…
Or perhaps if I had simply talked to other writers more instead of holding the story so close to my chest…
Oh, or I bet it was all that promo I did in 2015! I spent more time and money and effort on self-promoting Truthwitch than I even knew possible, and it was clearly a huge drain on me (and my wallet) in all ways…
Or maybe I was burned out. Maybe I should’ve been taking weekends these past 5 years. Maybe it was Twitter. Maybe it the newsletter. Maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe…
But here’s the simple truth, my loves: Nothing in life is a clear, straight, cause-effect line. Nothing. Ever.
I worked in ecological modeling, so mapping webs and calculating the impacts of a hundred different influencing variables used to be my THING.
Which is why it surprises me that I was so blind to the same complex web of interactions happening in my writing life. Not just during the years of 2014/15/16. But ALWAYS. Even right now, as I type this.
And just as all ecosystems are constantly evolving—the conditions changing every second—my own writing “mojo” is constantly shifting. All the different variables are affecting what I can produce at any moment of any day.
Additionally, just as no ecosystem is like another, no writer is like another. What works for me, won’t work for you. Your output won’t match mine. And all the different variables that contribute to YOUR creative output will never, ever, ever align exactly with what contributes to mine.
This is why the “write every day” advice can quickly turn to poison for so many people. (It’s also why the book-a-year publishing schedule can also quickly turn to poison for so many authors.) Not for EVERYONE of course, and probably not right away, but it’s inevitable that output and ability will warp over time and from person to person.
I think a lot of the “write everyday” advice boils down to trying to teach self-discipline. Which I wholeheartedly understand. I often meet writers who want to get published, but when I look at what they’re actually doing to achieve that goal...Well, let’s just say, I suspect it’ll never happen.
And I frequently tell those people, “Yeah. You just gotta sit down and write, man.” But I know they never will. Not in some meaningful way that will actually propel them to The End.
Then I meet aspiring authors who’ve “got it.” They’ve researched publishing on their own. They know how the industry works because they’ve immersed themselves in the online community. They’ve found critique partners. They’ve studied craft and attended cons.
Those writers will get a book deal one day—or sweep up the indie charts. I’ve no doubt. And they might get there by writing everyday…
Or they might not. And either way is okay.
What upsets me is that—just like when I tweeted about this—so many writers carry a deep sense of shame when they aren’t producing at some speed that they have defined as “good.”
You know this scenario: you see someone declaring, I wrote 15,000 words today and finished my next book! My third this year!

That’s awesome for that person. Seriously. I WISH I was him/her.
But the truth is that when I see those kinds of tweets, I instantly feel like complete shit. Because I got 23 words down today and I’ve been working on the same cursed book for 2 years now and I’m so behind on deadlines and the story isn’t working and DOES THIS MEAN I AM NOT MEANT TO DO THIS JOB? AM I BROKEN?
You know that feeling, right? The sense that everyone is moving forward at some incredible pace you can never match? You’re just watching them all charge ahead while you’re still stuck behind, feet glued to the pavement...?
But no one anywhere ever said that you have to write 15,000 words per day. Nor that you have to write three books a year.
And I am going to — just as I did on twitter last week — give you permission RIGHT NOW to write at the pace that suits you best.
I’ll talk more about how to figure out what that pace might be in later newsletters. I’m on a deep mission myself right now to better understand my own creativity and output. I am, if you will, building "an ecological model of my writing self."

The old model, the old method, and the old, ceaseless guilt don't work for me anymore. It's time, then, to find something new.
But until then, please: create at whatever pace actually FEELS good. Write at a speed that takes into account ALL the factors affecting you right now. Write because you want to add these specific words to your manuscript, not because you need to get in another 500 words—whatever they may be—to hit your daily goal.
And above all, ditch the shame. You are YOU and only YOU can create the way you do. That means there is no right or wrong way for you to make art.
Upcoming Events:
#WayWitch Tour!

Novi, MI
January 20-22
Full schedule to come!


Link Roundup:

As always, here are some links for your weekend! Thank you, as always, for reading!

photo by Emily Rae Photography

Copyright © 2017
Susan Dennard
All rights reserved.

110 West 40th St., Suite 2201
New York, NY 10018

I'm a misfit, a daydreamer, a fangirl, an animal-lover, and a (now gluten-free) cookie-eater.