About the author: Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares resources, tips, and tools for writers in search of a path at DIYWriting. Her latest book, AWriter’sBucketList, is a launching point for all of the possibilities of being a writer, a kick in the butt for those who don’t know what to do next, and a simple guide to help writers forge their own unique career/life paths.
1. How would you describe your book to someone who has not yet read it?
A Writer’s Bucket List is a launching point for all the possibilities of being a writer. Instead of another how-to book, I call it a “Why not?” for the writer’s life. The book is a collection of 99 things I’ve either done to further my own career and bolster my creativity, or things that are on my own bucket list that will help me do so in the future.
2. Is there a message in A Writer’s Bucket List that you want your readers to grasp?
I desperately want to convey this message to writers: “TRY SOMETHING NEW, and do it RIGHT NOW!” I want everyone to stop being afraid to take bold steps and follow their dreams because it’s not really that scary, and the payoff is so huge.
3. How did you get the idea for A Writer’s Bucket List?
I was alone at home without Internet one day, and I just had an urge to write SOMETHING. I wasn’t much into writing fiction at the time, so I just started to make a list of things writers do or should do — maybe to use on my blog later, or something? I let it sit at about twenty items for months and never went back to it. After a few months, I had the idea to turn it into a book, and I built the list up to about 100 things.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book?
Oh, I already have a million little things to change! But you have to just get the book OUT THERE eventually, you know? I do have plans for the future that will address some things this first edition does not. I plan to launch a Kindle edition in a few months. I also may — in the future, maybe — create a special edition that includes a lot more tips and advice, and it will probably be available in print as well as ebook format.
5. What inspired you to write your first book?
My FIRST book was a collection of short stories. I had been blogging and devouring blog posts by other writers for a few months, and I realized how POSSIBLE it would be to create a book and share it with the world. The idea of self-publishing was instantly very appealing to me. I had already written all of the stories, so the creation of that first book involved editing, beta readers, formatting, and publishing on Kindle…then marketing according to my limited abilities at the time. It was an awesome adventure and learning experience.
6. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
“Writing” means so many things, and not all writing is created equal. You will love some things and hate others, and they may not be the same as what other writers love and hate. Just because others are determined to become novelists doesn’t mean you aren’t a legitimate writer if you prefer to write blog posts. Just because others are willing to write copy for PR firms to make a living writing doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong if you’re working at a cafe and publishing short stories for no pay. Don’t try to be any kind of writer other than who you are, regardless of the money or esteem you think you’ll gain because, in art, your strength lies in your uniqueness.
7. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?
The first words are always my favorite, whether I’m writing fiction, non-fiction, news articles, etc. The first words hold all the possibilities for what a story will become. As soon as you write them, you can see the spine of the book on a shelf, a reader’s eyes glowing as she meets your characters, a bookstore owner shaking your hand and welcoming your books into his inventory. When I’m writing fiction, I also fall instantly in love with my characters from the first words, and that feeling is so cool.
I absolutely hate the moment after the book is “finalized”. In self-publishing an ebook, that moment is when I have just uploaded the book to the distributor. That’s the moment you’re taking the biggest leap, and all the scary questions flood your brain — Did you run through enough edits? Did you get enough feedback from beta readers? Was that version of the cover REALLY the best? WHAT IF NOBODY BUYS IT?! It’s the moment when you beat yourself up with all the “shouldas” of the past and the “what-ifs” of the future.
8. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?
I want to write YA/NA. Romantic comedy. I feel so cheesy saying it out loud because I avoided these genres for a long time as a reader. But as I become more entrenched in the writer/reader world, I’m discovering a lot of YA that I love and romance that I respect and enjoy. The format is easy to enjoy, and the readers are awesome — I want to connect with those readers!
9. What’s up next for you?
In addition to promoting the hell out of A Writer’s Bucket List, this year my big goal is to get some fiction up on Kindle. I’m going to start small and work my way up. I’m just finishing a literary novelette, I’m collaborating with a friend on a literary novella, and by the end of NaNoWriMo 2013, I want to have a complete manuscript for that YA rom com.
In non-fiction, I’m continuing to develop new ebooks for writers, as well as e-courses. I want to create a more official community at DIY Writing, where writers have access to special resources and tools, and can collaborate and learn from each other.
10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to try anything, and don’t be afraid to fail. If you have an idea, try it, and share your work. The first thing you share won’t be the best thing you can share, but it will be a start, and the next thing will be better. Failure is how you grow, so embrace it. Don’t try to avoid it just because it doesn’t feel good.