Monday, June 17, 2013

The Cart Before the Horse - Getting it Wrong

It's difficult being a writer. It's more difficult becoming one. All too often we consider ourselves writers before we become writers.

You write  until you become a writer. You don't practice medicine and call yourself a doctor before you attend classes for umpteen years, learning under the tutelage of masters. Some will argue with me on this. "I write, therefore, I am a writer." If you need that to write, so be it. But the rest of the world isn't going to recognize you as a writer until you earn it.


A few mistakes we tend to make as pending writers:

1) Thinking of who will publish your book before it's written (or edited).

It doesn't matter where you'll publish when the words aren't dry on the page. Besides, between the time you think of the story, write it, and edit it to the point you submit it, the sources you want to submit to may have changed or disappeared....or redefined who is eligible to submit or what material they'll accept.  It's like saying you'll get a job for a certain company in a certain town before you get your degree to be eligible for the jobs they hire.

2) Adding how much you'll make before you become a professional.

The proverbial "counting the chickens before they hatch." All the eggs don't hatch, y'all. As a chicken lady, I know. All you can do here is learn to write well, then learn to write better than well, then learn to pitch, then learn to pitch better. Focus on the doing, not the end result. You cannot get there without knowing the route.

3) Tallying the readers before you write the story.

Blogging, magazines or books . . . it's all the same. You cannot tally your readers. All you can do is your best, reaching out to the world, strategically seeking pockets of people who might like your genre and story, catering to them, always being available to them. But you cannot forecast the readers. They are a fickle lot. All you can do is figure out what is your best work, then keep doing it.

4) Writing what you think will sell, instead of what heats up your passion.

 If your heart isn't in what you're doing, the product isn't magical. Readers want magic these days, because so many writers are spitting out generic knock-offs of best sellers . . . or writing what everyone else is writing.

5) Letting "what will people think" drive what you write.

If you wonder what people will think, whether you'll kick up a maelstrom of feedback because you ventured into controversial territory, and let it dictate your edits . . . or what you do not write . . . you could lose an opportunity. Instead, write what drives your heart, your soul, your own creative spirit. You may not realize it, but that spark infuses itself in your words. 

Don't get the cart before the horse. You never arrive.

4 comments:

Sioux said...

Hope--If ain't fun, it won't get done...

Sioux said...

Crapola. I meant, if it ain't fun, it won't get done.

widdershins said...

... or end up going backward, with horse poop in your lap!

wordsfallfrommyeyes said...

I enjoyed this very much, Hope - very useful. Love to hear the voice of success! especially when it has clear recall of more average days.

As for 'thinking of a publisher before you've even finished your novel' - doh! c'est moi! You do wonder 'will it be received', but that never stops you from writing it.

Thank you for this :)