>I ran across two things this morning that started me thinking about choices that make us stretch as writers and how sometimes the best advice is found off the beaten track.
The first bit of inspiration for this post came from Lynn Raye Harris’ blog and her belief that she’d begun making better choices and was moving forward in her writing.
The second comes from buzz around the ‘net regarding CJ Lyons’ recently released Lifeline. Her “the call” story is amazing to the point of being almost unbelievable and hugely inspiring at the same time. In an interview by Margie Lawson, CJ was asked if she had any recommendations for those writers working toward eradicating “self-defeating behaviors.” CJ’s responded with this unusual bit of advice:
I think it’s vital to know why you write—if submitting to agents and editors and trying to get published is sucking all the joy out of something you once loved, then hey, stop submitting, stop trying to get published. Just because someone else says “writers must try to get published” you don’t need to buy into that.
I love that! Maybe because I gave similar advice in an article I wrote about pitching, which essentially said if you’re not ready, don’t pitch just because everyone thinks you should.
CJ’s advice, IMO, is spot-on. I’m in the process of writing up my 2007 taxes summary page for my accountant, and there’s a noticable absence of submissions and contests compared to other years. Why? Because I realized I was submitting stuff that wasn’t quite there yet and I needed to hone my skills. Instead of contests and queries, I took classes and re-read material from craft books and previous classes. I also studied the line I’m targeting, extensively, and concentrated on developing story lines and twists that were more imaginative.
I see a big difference in my writing as a result. I’m able to spot cliche’s more readily and avoid them. I don’t take my first idea and treat it like gold anymore, nor the second or third. I’m more open to others seeing problems in my writing I’m too close to see and appreciate that I have a chance to fix those things before an editor sees them. Like Lynn, I feel like I make better choices in my writing and concerning my career. At times I feel like I’m standing still and at others, moving forward at breakneck speed.
What about you? Have you ever looked at your writing and felt you needed to just ‘drop out’ of the publishing race and practice? Or maybe a piece of advice really resonated with you and changed your writing life. Share it with me, won’t you?
>Carol,Great post. I have been struggling for a while with my writing style. I found my “voice” as they say. I just know I did. The problem? It’s first person, present tense….okay–can you say unpublished??? can you say hard to sell unpublised author with this voice?????But I am tired of struggling writing something else. It’s not as good, it’s boring and I can’t get across what I want the way I want it. So…..I’m rewriting a book I had almost finished…writing it in my voice and we’ll see. I can’t keep defeating myself by doing something that’s twice as hard for me and not near as much fun.Thanks for the post. I’m going to read the interview with Lyons….And never say never…..I’m more determined than ever that someone will recognize I’m doing what I do best and want to buy. Trust me, I as slim as the chances are they are better than if I”m doing something I’m not happy doing.
>Belinda…hard sell maybe but if it works it works and find a home. Granted it’s not my first ms. but my agent is shopping a book in first present told mostly from the hero’s pov (and 1st past from other people’s pov’s). It’s a hard sell because it’s definitely the hero’s story and while it has a romance it’s NOT a romance. I love it. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written. And to drive my point home…my agent really (normally) dislikes multiple first POV’s but loved the book so much she took me on.
>Wow, thanks for the mention, Carol! It’s funny, we write things for our blogs and never know when something will resonate with someone else. Glad if my post made you think. :)When a writer is just starting out, I see nothing wrong with taking time before getting on the publishing wheel. And sometimes, you do have to drop off the wheel and figure out your direction. 🙂 I think sometimes in the heat of the moment, we get going before we’re truly ready, before we’ve gotten that direction.I love where I’m at now, and I feel like it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.
>Hey, Carol, Good job. I also deal with writing for me or writing “to publish.”Contests and rejections and even trying to please critique partners can steal my joy. I have to remind myself of the reason I loved to write when I first started. Someone (Anna Adams, maybe?) reminds us a rejection means “Not that agent or editor that day for that manuscript.” My critique partners and contest judges have our own favorite authors and out opinions. That doesn’t mean we can help each other, we just can’t always please each other and shouldn’t.Hugs!