Spring has now arrived and don’t we as writers have a tendency to look back about now and see how closely we are following those January 1 resolutions about writing more or writing every day or getting so many pages written or edited?How are you doing?
I know I make that sort of statement just about every year, and often I find myself making new resolutions to either start over or be more diligent. Writing can bring us
great joy, but it can also become a burden hanging around our necks. Often editing or deadlines can make it seem like more of a chore. However, if you want to write and get published, you just have to dig in and DO it. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers or paths to publication other than putting in the required work.
One thing I learned from my many years as a news writer and newsroom manager, if you want to make a living from writing, you have to put your writing skills to work just about every day. As a television news writer and producer, I knew my stories were either going on the air at 5, 6 or 11, or all the hours of hard work were wasted. I couldn’t wait for divine inspiration. If I didn’t get them written and edited for the news program that went on at that time, those stories were not going to air--and all the hard work, research and rewriting to make the story “perfect” were all going to be wasted. Being successful as any type of writer means getting the story done to the best of your ability before the deadline or it doesn’t ever make it to the readers. You might as well be sitting alone in your room writing for yourself.
The same goes for the editing process. You can’t sit and edit and re-edit until the story is absolutely perfect – well, you can, but who will care if it doesn’t get read because you’ve missed so many deadlines, your editor has moved on to the next writer and the next story. Even if you’re publishing on your own, will readers want to wait five years for that “perfect” next book to show up?
How can you get past those fears or drawbacks or the evil little questions about your work?
If your goal is to get published, the simple answer is--just do it. Put your work out there, and that means getting the story written and edited and published. Yes, there will always be a sentence you wish you had written in another way. Even now I see myself editing my work as I read it in my latest book, knowing others might also be reading it. But are they thinking of how else it should be written? Probably not, unless they might be another writer. Readers are going to read your work and accept it. Now they might not all like it, but there is always that risk. Not all readers will enjoy your work. And that criticism can hurt. I still remember being characterized as a “half-baked” reporter for a story I wrote many years ago for my college daily newspaper. Isn’t that crazy, I’ve written dozens of news stories since then, numerous fiction books--even won awards--but I still remember that exact phrase someone used to describe my writing back when I was a beginning journalist.
But criticism never stopped me, and that is what I think, when I read reviews now. Some people will enjoy my work, and that is great. They will be looking for my next book. Some people might not enjoy it, or might not buy another book, but that is all right too. I write because I consider myself a writer. I can’t imagine another career for myself than putting words on paper or into the computer, knowing some people will react favorably while others might still see me as a “half-baked” writer. But I will never stop writing. Currently I am editing the second story in my “Dead Man” series, Dead Man’s Treasure which will soon be available from The Wild Rose Press. I am enjoying working again with my characters. I like finding the right word or seeing those people again come alive on the written page. I enjoy causing problems for them and then letting those characters show their strengths and weaknesses as they move forward.
Being a writer means getting the stories written. Every year I start off promising myself that I will write more, and that promise keeps me moving. I never feel like I am doing enough, but the stories do get written and edited. When I re-evaluate in Spring (like now) I always find there is still more to be done. I am certain I will be starting more new projects and finishing old ones before the year is out. I will not stop because of critics or because I “don’t feel like writing today,” and that is half the battle.
As we “spring” forward toward summer this is a good time to make that re-commitment to our work and push on with that next story. If you want to write, go for it and don’t worry about those “half-baked” critics!