#1. Commit time and money
#3. Deal with rejection
#4. Study the craft
#5. Seek wise council/advice/support
#6. Accept criticism
#7. Stay motivated (set reasonable goals)
#8. Understand the publishing business and keep up (it’s changing all the time)
#9. Learn to self-promote without being obnoxious
#10. Embrace all aspects of the writing process
For the next ten weeks (staring next week), I’m going to post about the ten things that I think every writer must decide to do if they want to succeed at writing. I don’t know that I’ll discuss each topic in that exact order but there they are.
And I know they look pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how many people I meet, writers, who say things like: “I don’t revise. I write a clean first draft.” or “I can’t self-promote. I don’t have the personality for that.” or “I used to have a critique partner but I don’t need one any more.”
Now, you’re probably already wondering what I mean by “successful.” I believe success is a relative term and that for each writer the definition is unique. For some of us, being a success as a writer might mean selling a few articles each year. For another author, it may be to publish full length fiction with a particular house. Maybe, it’s to make enough money from writing to take your family on a great vacation each year. What I suggest doing before we even look at the 10 essentials is to figure out 3 stages of your writing career. Give yourself a year for the first stage, three years for the second, and 5-7 for the last. And be reasonable. For example, when I first started writing my first stage was to finish a manuscript, second was to get a request and the third to get a contract. Now that I’ve reached that first three stages I’ve changed my goals to match where I am with my career. And remember traditional publishing takes time.
If you’re thinking of going with an e-pub, then your timeline might be a little different…but there’s still a set of steps to climb and you will only become frustrated if you aren’t realistic about them. For example, if you don’t have a finished manuscript, then don’t set getting a contract for your first goal. That’s not going to happen. If you do have a finished manuscript but haven’t had a single request or haven’t even started to shop it around, then still don’t set getting a contract for your first goal. It’s very unlikely that will happen. In these cases, you’re much better off to state that you will finish said manuscript and revise. Or with the polished manuscript, you should say that “I will research agents and publishing houses and shop my manuscript to the following:…” These are realistic goals and ones that YOU have control over.
I’ll cover more about staying motivated and setting goals in another post, but I just wanted to be clear that “success” for the 10 essentials shouldn’t necessarily be “make the NY Times Best Seller list.” It should be what each writer can set out to accomplish individually. So, I encourage you to read along and make comments with me. Perhaps, you have a story to tell related these decisions and how you made them or committed yourself to them. Please share. I would love to hear.
Check back next week for my “chat” on committing your time and money.