Monday, November 25, 2013

So, You Want to be a Writer

Occasionally at DFWWW, we'll get a visitor
who says "I have a great book idea that will be 
a guaranteed bestseller. I just need someone to
write the manuscript for me. I'll share 20%
of the profits." They often leave offended
that no one accepts their offer.
These days it appears that everyone wants to be a writer. Folks at Starbucks, or at work, or at the library, or etc. have an idea for a book. And not just any book, but one they are convinced will transform them into a fabulously rich, literary star. However, very few of these people will ever go from BIG IDEA to completed manuscript.

Because writing is hard work and there's no magic formula. If there were, someone would have marketed Guaranteed-Bestseller-in-a-Box by now. Since that hasn't happened, aspiring authors often question what it takes to succeed in this fickle business. I've been blessed to have several friends who have traditionally published. Each of their success stories share similar traits.   


More than talent or creativity, writing takes discipline. Following the ABCD rule (Apply Butt to Chair Dang it), day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year and putting words on paper is a necessity.

A Thick Skin

Successful writers have a hide as tough as a rhinoceros (maybe tougher). A writer who can’t accept criticism won’t get very far. Successful writers actively seek feedback and learn from it. They know that a harsh critique often improves the final work.


If a writer writes a book, but nobody ever reads it (because the writer never submits it) is the writer really a writer? Debatable. Every successful writer had to put his/her stuff out there for the world to love/hate/shred/read. 


Successful writers never give up, no matter how often they are rejected. They know that for every one positive comment, there will be a thousand naysayers. How do successful writers handle rejection? They write another book. 

So, Do You Still Want to be a Writer?

By now, it should be apparent that becoming a writer is indeed hard work. No matter if your goal is to traditionally publish, or go the self-pub route, it still takes all of the above and more, such as old-fashioned luck.

However, since luck can't be taught it's better to focus on the traits we aspiring writers can influence.
·         Each of us can improve our discipline and write more often.

·         We can develop a thick, critique-resistant skin by participating in writers' groups.

·         Risk-taking should become second nature as we submit our work until it sells.  

·         We can improve our stick-to-itiveness by …well … sticking-to-it.

How well do I do these? Hmmmm ...
      ·         My discipline varies depending on my mood. Lately, I've been very lazy.  

·         I do have a thick skin, but occasionally critiques still hurt. 

·       Once I'm satisfied with a story, I will submit it until I place it somewhere. I'll give myself a 'pass' on this one.   

·        Stick-to-itiveness has always been a battle for me. I've almost given up so many times, I've lost count of them. But then, I convince myself to try again.   
What about you? How well do you handle any of the above?    

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