For most writers, the path to publication is full of obstacles, detours, and potholes. Tenacity and resilience are required to reach your destination. Observe these commandments:
- Write every day. The quickest way to become a published writer is to exercise your writing muscles. The more you write, the better you get.
- Write for the joy of it. Don’t worry about trends—write your fresh, unique vision. The problem with trends is that by the time your piece is published, the trend may well have passed.
- Turn off your inner editor during the initial draft. Get all those good ideas down.
- When you think your first draft is complete, put it aside. Make a note on your calendar to read it again in 6 weeks. Start a new project.
- Have more than one project in the works at any given time. This gives you options when you’re stuck or just tired of a particular piece.
- When you read your previous draft again after 6 weeks, it probably won’t seem as good as you thought it was. Don’t despair—now you get to rewrite it. Identify what’s good about it. Cross out everything that doesn’t belong. Highlight what needs to change. Write yourself notes. Read it out loud. Fill in any holes.
- When you think it’s the best it can be, let someone you trust read it (but maybe not your mom) and ask for feedback.
- Consider the feedback and make improvements. If the critique hurts, put it aside for two weeks and then look at it again. There may be an excellent suggestion in there. Don’t take it personally—it’s about the work, not about you. All writers refine their work.
- Send it out when it’s good. Don’t wait until it’s perfect—it’s never perfect. While you’re waiting to hear, work on something else. But if your submission is rejected, you may want to revisit commandments 7 and 8 (or maybe number 6) and submit it again to a different publication/editor/agency. Do some market research to find out who represents/publishes work like yours.
- Whatever you do, don’t give up.
If you keep these ten commandments, you will ultimately succeed. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else—some of us have a steeper learning curve than others, and that’s okay. And when you get a positive response, celebrate and start or finish another project. Don’t let your genius languish.