Most writers have a desire to be published. It might not be the position you started out from, but over time, the way you view your writing might have changed as your skills grew. You’ve joined a writing network, and started hanging out with other writers, so you know that ordinary people do get published. Then you start to think, if he/she can do it, then maybe I can. It’s all well and good to have the desire, but do you have a vision?
Without a vision backed up by a plan, you won’t be published. Some writers are destined to remain dilettantes, dabbling here and there, trying out this and that, but never applying elbow grease and letting words and sentences frustrate them to distraction. That’s what a determined writer does.
Your dream of being published has to be more than something you work at on and off or ‘as the spirit moves you’. You have to want it to the point where you’ll do everything in your power to achieve that dream. Many of the motivational pieces I’ve read have one bit of advice in common.
Put your vision in black and white.
You can think about being published twenty-four hours for the day, but until you write that vision down, it’ll be like grasping after a smoke ring. Yes, that’s right. Your dream will disintegrate, get pushed aside, forgotten. I know it takes more time than you have to write ‘the dream’ down, but grab ten minutes out of your day to do it, if it’s important.
And don’t just scribble vague notes. Be specific. Start with your fondest desire. Whatever you’re aiming for – whether to publish a book, article, get an agent, self-publish, doesn’t matter. After daring to put your hopes on paper or the screen, fill in the baby steps. Write a short story or article each month, approach two agents per week, query one publisher per month.
You know better than anyone else what you’re capable of, therefore it’s critical to pace yourself. Although it’s important to challenge yourself, it makes no sense writing down goals you’re not likely to achieve. Better to set a goal of an article per month, than to decide on three when you know you don’t have the time or inclination to get the writing done.
In the past, I’ve been lucky. Once my stories start percolating, they pretty much spew from my fingertips to the keyboard until they’re done. The articles don’t work like that though. I’ll write down 3 or 4 points I want to cover, but if I don’t make myself sit down and get that baby written, I’ll drag the notes around with me for months and do nothing with them.
Along with the vision, you must make a decision.
I am going to be published and I will work at it. There, now you have the resolve to make it happen. This is kind of like having faith, for those who are believers. Don’t just decide you’re going to do something, work at it for a few days or months, and then give in when you feel nothing’s going to happen for you. D’you know how many rejections the big names got before they struck gold? Check here and here after you’ve read to the end of this post. Stay with me, and keep your focus. (Thanks for that second link Doralynn!)
The worst enemy we have is ourselves. I’d be lying if I said I never had negative thoughts. Sometimes, I wondered if I’d be published. At times, I asked myself ‘Who am I kidding? There are so many better writers out there. Why should I be published over them?’ But I never let those thoughts settle in my mind for long, and I never gave up.
This might make me sound crazy as a loon, but somehow I knew I’d be published, despite what my doubts told me. I wrote Contraband in 2005, and thought it was ready a couple of years later. It wasn’t, but that’s another story. After tons of editing, it was finally ready for submission in 2009.
Part of what gave me the drive to continue pushing was the comments from the other writers on The Next Big Writer. Sure, some people are going to give you nice reviews, telling you how lovely your stuff is, others will tell you the same, but will temper their opinion with good advice. I like your writing, it flows well, you’re a good storyteller, BUT if you did x or y it would take this story a notch higher.
And then, there are the people who give great advice, except you feel like you’ve been raped after a review from them. But I’m straying. The point is, if 8 out of 10 writers tell you they think you’ve got something, then you’ve got something. Work with it. Writers are the most helpful people on God’s planet. Believe me on that, and the bunch over at tnbw are among the best.
Now, having faith in yourself is similar to having faith in God.
Remember James 2:20? It says faith without works is dead, so you can believe you have the talent to write and be published, but if you do nothing to achieve your goals, then you might as well kiss the idea of being published goodbye.
And another thing, I’m not just pulling random thoughts out of the air. The things we do today, have been done for thousands of years by people before us, and will be continued by other folks long after we’re dead. In the past, many writers gave up on their talent, and put aside their dream of being published, and still others persevered and got that elusive ‘we would like to offer you a contract for…’
Yesterday, I was thinking about what to write for this post. I decided on something in keeping with what people do at the start of a new year, so I thought about making plans, writing them down, and following through.
I knew I was on the right track when I came across the following quote among the rubble in my office. It’s from Habakkuk 2:2-3 – “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; but at the end it will speak, it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”
Now you have the vision, what are you waiting for? Run with it and believe that what you hope to achieve is possible.
I’ll see you at the finish line.