What the Game of Craps teaches us about Writing a Book

Happy Friday, Y'all. 

Some of you have (Okay, just Hubby Sam) questioned whether or not I got any actual writing done during my "Writing Retreat to Vegas". Sure, I may not have written 15,000 words. But I guarantee I ate 15,000 calories. And the more I got thinking about it, the more I realized that Vegas had a lot to teach me about writing a book. So, here goes. My attempt to justify my trip to Vegas as a tax-exempt writing expense.

1. Always bet the Pass line. 

In Craps, every time there's a new roller, everybody bets the pass line. Every single time. It's like an ante. 

In Writing: Write something, every day. Even if it's something throwaway, like a blog post. (Okay, like most of my blog posts). You may "crap out" on the first roll. But it might also turn into something beautiful. Like a seven. Or an eleven.

2. To win a lot, you have to bet a lot. 

In Craps, the people who win are the people who have chips covering the table. And if a certain number rewards them, they "press it" (corrected), meaning they apply their winnings to the same bet.

In Writing: You gotta take chances. Don't be afraid to get your writing out there. Don't be afraid to get slammed. And if something resonates with people, "press it". Find what works, and double down.

3. If you are afraid to lose money, don't play. 

In Craps, the dealers see it all the time: people counting their chips before they make their bets. These are the people who don't lay it all out on the line. These are the people who lose.

In Writing: Lay it all out on the line. Write what you want to write. Write what you think you can't write. Write the book that no one else can write. If you are scared of rejections, don't bother submitting. If you are scared of ridicule, criticism, or failure, don't write. 

4. No matter what you do, the House always has the best odds.

In Craps, there's only one bet that will get you the same odds as the dealers. Betting the odds is the best bet in Vegas. Other than that, the House always, always, without a doubt, regardless of how many pretty women kiss the dice, always has the best odds.
In Writing: Everyone knows their odds when it comes to getting a book published. They suck, basically. That's just the way it goes. Even if you write a killer book, it may be a time when there's a deluge of "killer books" on the market, and they won't have room for yours, no matter how good it is. It's good to know this, going in.

5. Listen to your dealer: He'll tell you what odds to bet.

Unless you're John Nash or the Rain Man, listen to what the dealer says you should bet. For reasons beyond my mental capabilities, certain bets get you whole integer returns, and certain ones get you like a buck 45, and the casino will just pocket the 45. The dealer (in our case, "Carmine" at the Casino Royale) will tell you what to bet so this doesn't happen. 
In Writing: Take constructive criticism. Find a good critique group, and listen to what they have to say. I like to have five people read my stuff, and then if 4 out of 5 have a problem with a certain thing, I know it should be fixed. No book is good enough the first time around. Every book gets edited. Unless you're Stephenie Meyer. And I'm pretty sure Cormac McCarthy sets his own rules. But at one point in their careers, they were critiqued and they listened.

6. Every day, someone in the casino will roll for forty minutes without hitting a seven. You want to be there when it happens.

In Writing: At some point, you may finish a book, about Fallen Vampires in the Dystopian future, and right at the moment you finish, you might hear on Twitter that a particular agent is begging for books about Fallen Vampiers in the Dystopian future, and you've got one. This will never happen if you don't play the game, and put in the work.

7. Never switch the dice to a different hand.

They get so mad when you pick up the dice and then switch them to your other hand. And then you get nervous, and so you switch them back and forth without realizing it, and then you lash out and blame the guy standing on your left for distracting you...

Okay, maybe that's just me.

I spoke at SCBWI about blogging on Wednesday night, so I'll share the tips with y'all next week. What's everyone doing this weekend?