Monday, December 21, 2009

The Writer's Path

The writing path is the journey of a lifetime - fraught with discovery and discouragement. We can avoid some of its pitfalls if we define that path early on. Today, I want to share some insights into my writing journey.

This time of year, with Christmas and New Year's close at hand, my thoughts turn backward as I evaluate the past year and prepare for the next one. I've given up New Year's Resolutions completely and find the freedom from those expectations a major relief.

But I have implemented something else instead.  My husband and I spend some time looking back at our spiritual markers. We look at them individually, as a couple and as a family. I also look at them in regard to my past year as a writer.

This is particularly helpful because the definition of the writer's path is so unique and varied. In the past I've had trouble evaluating my progress because I was comparing my journey to someone else's. To begin the process, I start with some basic questions.

  • What were some of my writing highlights of the year? (Not necessarily the most lucrative, but the most rewarding)
  • What are some of my writing setbacks for the year?
  • What writing advice stands out in my mind seems to apply directly to me?

As I map out these spiritual markers, the path God has had me on becomes quite clear. And, by knowing where I've been, it becomes clearer where to go next. I'd love to hear some of your answers to these questions. I'll be posting mine later this week.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mastering Your Dream

When someone asks me what I do or where I work, I always hesitate to mention that I’m a writer. Not because I’m ashamed of it or think I’m not worthy to be called a writer, but because it often leads to some frustrating conversations. Let me see if any of you can relate to some of my experiences.

·        “I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Can you help me?”
·        “I have a book I’ve written. Can you send it to a publisher for me?”
·        “I used to write in high school, maybe you could look at a few things and tell me what you think.”
·        “I’ve been through (you fill in the blank) and want to write a book about it. Can you tell me how to get it published?”

Don’t get me wrong, there’ s nothing inherently wrong with these questions, the problem comes when I answer them. I’ve found that most people don’t really want to hear the truth – they want a shortcut to fame and fortune, not the truth.

·        There’s no shortcut to becoming a professional writer. It takes time and commitment.
·        I don’t have an inside track into getting your book published.
·        If I take the time to look at your samples, I’ll tell you the truth and that may not be what you really want.
·        It’s hard to sell a memoir or personal experience story. If you’re not incredibly famous—people probably won’t buy a story about you.

There are no shortcuts to becoming a master at your craft and writing is no different. Even exceptional talent needs time and experience to hone it into brilliance. Occasionally I come across someone who’s willing to put in the time and really learn about the craft of writing. Those individuals are a joy and I love taking time to help them. So let’s start the conversation and learn from each other!