[Update: Now I am! But this post, written in 2007, still holds true today.]
Aren’t I just guessing at what’s required to make it in this business? Some days I just don’t know. But here’s what I do know, for sure: I know what can kill a drive, what has held me back and tied me up in knots. So that’s what today’s post is about.
The 7 Deadly Sins of the Unpubbed Writer:
1. A weak concept. Let’s write a book about a guy and a girl and a dog, and love and a peach pie. And maybe an eye patch. Or not. A STRONG concept will not only increase the likelihood that you’ll be successful in the end, but it can actually help you to finish your wip. How? It’ll inspire you to sit and work on it for hours at a time. Like a body, prone and needing CPR, your manuscript needs your help. If you love it–really, really love it–and see value in it, you will keep breathing life into it until it starts breathing on its own.
2. No deadline. My kids’ school has asked my hubby and me to write a song as their new anthem. Cool, eh? They asked two months ago, and we’ve yet to work on it. I was joking with the secretary about it recently. “You should give us a deadline,” I said. “It’s all right,” she said, “you can’t rush creativity.” I smiled, shook my head. “Oh, you’d be surprised.” As someone who’s had the benefit of the hot-iron push of deadline, I’m here to tell you that it’s a truly motivating factor. But how to impose a deadline on yourself when there isn’t anyone waiting for the script on the other end, prod in hand, check in the other? You just do. You entrust an editor-like authority to those who understand your desire to reach The End–like a critique partner or buggy sister–and then let them use a pseudo-prod to bother you regularly. You mark your calendar with your deadlines–“finish part 1″…”wrap up first draft”–and you reward yourself when you meet the mark. Push yourself, and let others push you too. Don’t let your wip become an unsung song.
3. A bad critique group. [Read more…]