"...the inability to fight self-doubts is one of the biggest things that prevent a writer from becoming published. And it’s probably one of the reasons published writers stop writing." Christie Craig, How To Ward Off A Gremlin
I think anyone who creates has insecurities. It’s the nature of the beast. Creative works come from within the artist and are highly subjective because it’s our interpretation of what we see or feel. This is true whether we be actor, musician, artist, or writer. We create from our inner landscape and present it to others for their enjoyment, perhaps education, and for sure entertainment.
When we put our work on display we’re putting a piece of our inner self out there. It’s hard to detach your feelings from this labor of love and yet we must if we’re also to be objective enough to recognize whether something we’ve created is good, mediocre, or just plain sucks.
I’ve written for sometime. I’ve always told and written stories. Most of them sit in the hell no drawer. They satisfied what I wanted to say or do at the time. When I started writing for publication it was a whole different playing field. I know I tell a good story. I also know I’m a good writer. However, those two things don’t always coalesce into a viable story as I discovered with my first critiques—which happened to be from a contest.
I didn’t belong to a writing group then—in fact I had no contact with any other writers, and while I read voraciously but still didn’t *get it* as far as what was good writing in today’s market and what wasn’t. I’d never analyzed it. I should have.
The first public eyes that saw my story were judges in a contest. Oh. My. God. This was a first chapters contest. Other writers entered—something like fifteen hundred—and there were rounds of voting from fellow writers and professional judges. I thought what I wrote was good or I wouldn’t have entered it. I edited the manuscript several times, cut thirty thousand words, and then had a friend who was an award winning journalist proof it.
And then I started reading other entries and the critiques/comments attached to those entries.
Holy shitake mushrooms. What an education. Brutal even.
I knew the first day my story wouldn’t place in the top five (I finished in the top twenty-five percent and didn’t make it to the round three). Not that my two chapters were bad—it wasn’t, but based on what I was reading I knew the manuscript wasn’t good enough and I didn’t have the social network to succeed even had it been.
I knew I had a lot to learn before I would be published. I’m not one to back away from a challenge—and believe me, it was a major challenge.
Lessons learned on my writing journey:
- Writing is a business. You have to learn and apply the most current information. As with any business, you have to be constantly perfecting your basic skill set to get ahead.
- You need objective critiques of your work and that excludes your mother who thinks anything you create is wonderful. You need constructive critiques from someone who knows the business and writing.
- When receiving a critique, you need to be
willing to listen and learn.The first one I received from a friend, who is also a traditionally published writer, I thought it was bleeding to death from all the red marks—but that’s a story I'll tell another time.
- You really do need to associate with other writers. You need a good support system in place. After the above-mentioned contest, I—who has never been much of a joiner—became part of a wonderful group (my Writing Wombats). I get support, current info, and a good kick in the ass when I need it.
- You need a social network and name recognition long before you query your first book.
- You need tough Rhino skin and a strong will to succeed.
|It hurts like hell when you fall off one of these horses. If you never get back on you'll never get hurt like that again but you'll never win the coveted prize, either. Only you can decide if the pain is worth the gain.|
- Believe in yourself. If this is what you want to do—don’t give up. If you get knocked down get back up and fight off the self-doubts.