Write Like You’re Published


“Live like you were dying,” “run like the devil is on your heels,”  and “Party like it’s 1999.”  Well.  Maybe that last phrase isn’t as applicable for what I mean, but sort of.

I have recently come to a conclusion.  As I’ve said before, I follow certain blogs, read as much as I can about writing, (FOREST FOR THE TREES by Betsy Lerner, Stephen King’s ON WRITING and most recently, LARRY BROWN, A WRITER’S LIFE).  In addition, there are other resources I turn to, magazines, the local newspaper, which features a huge section on authors every Sunday, and anywhere else I happen to run across something about writing, I read it.  (Donald Maass has tons of books out that are written with insider type of knowledge an agent would have, like THE FIRE IN FICTION and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL)

Here’s what I’ve noticed, and trust me, this is more than likely purely idiosyncratic to me and my own observations.   Once a writer has been published, confidence soars.  Your words are loved (already!) by not only your agent, but the editor, the marketing team, the sales team, the publisher and anyone who has been following your journey.

I’ve often thought about how it would make me feel to have completed that rigorous vetting process.  I would feel like my writing had been viewed by all of these experts who have said “yes,” this is good enough to allow an advance, this is good enough that we want to spend more money to back her/him and publish their book.

I mean, honestly.

Wouldn’t that make you suddenly feel extraordinarily special, like you’d somehow solved the problem only the smartest of the smart knew?  You might go back and look at what you wrote, treasure how you came up with THAT sentence, smile when you reminisce about how you figured out a certain character’s dilemma, feel a sense of satisfaction that you were able to create a surprise or stunning ending everyone else appreciates.

It’s as if when that happens, all of the sudden, people want to know, “how did you do it?”  And, “what was your process?”  “Did you do a lot of research?”  “How did you create your characters? Etc. Etc.   You are now considered an expert, and you can’t believe how you feel about the writing that you used to think SUCKED.

My point with all of this?   Don’t let the fact that you haven’t been published affect your writing.  Try not to be too critical of where your story is headed (or not), or worry about how the rejections are coming and it’s because you’re the worst writer who ever existed.  Believe me, I’m there with you on all this and how it isn’t the best feeling.  I think my writing sucks every single day, but what I’ve also noticed is when I don’t think like that, I actually write better.  (insert thoughts of being delusional here)

Seriously, I believe if you write with confidence, write with the belief you can craft a story that is interesting, this, will serve you better than if you shrink within your self and hate what you’ve created.  Just try… try and write like you’re published, see if it doesn’t help.

P.S.   A little humility isn’t a bad thing, just don’t let it work against you.

Advertisements

6 Comments

I don’t know about all that. I mean, at the end of the day it still feels to me like the next book is the most important one. It’s about trying to get the right words on the page today, and that never really gets any easier.

Like

    Yes, agree. This was me striving to give a shot of encouragement, inspiration, a keep your chin up no matter how tough it gets sort of post. Not to say it would be any easier from success to success, once you’ve accomplished that – but more of a post for those who haven’t achieved it yet. Once you’ve succeeded at…A, B, or C, whatever it is…I believe it gives a person more confidence… simply knowing they’ve done it once has to give one a sense of belief in one’s ability…no?

    Like

Yeah, that’s the thing about it, eh? For someone like me, who has no byline, no title page, nada, I hang on to any encouragement I can, and I try to use it for that shot of confidence when the suck monster is in my ear. (most days)

Like

Oh Donna…this is so related to my latest blog-post.
After my first byline my head was so big it wouldn’t fit through the door, my feet could not touch the ground. After my second, tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth, the same feelings…I just feel so proud when the editor chooses to publish what I write and tells me, ‘you have a fan-base’. Duh…a what? Yow-za, what a great feeling.
BUT
After so many bylines I developed the itch for a title page…a very different form of writing. I am a neophyte, right back to the beginning and feeling like such a rejected failure again and again. What I have learned is that, (unless you are a King or a Rowling), no matter what you write or how many times you have been published, each piece put out there is a new beginning and a new quest open to all the angst new attempts have.
I just wish I could be content with what I’ve done not obsess over what I want to do.

Like

Yes, I was just thinking this about all talents yesterday when talking to a friend about her talent.

Like

    Part of this came from seeing the metamorphosis in Larry Brown as he went from rejected writer to celebrated writer. (although his work never sold at the level it deserved). And, also because when my agent or editor tell me something positive, its like getting affirmation to keep on. I can only imagine this expands exponentially once you’ve passed that ultimate test.

    Like

%d bloggers like this: