Monday, September 29, 2014

3 Ways to Boost Your Writing Career Before You Are Published

Wanting to be a writer is like wanting to be a marathon runner. The training necessary for success starts long before the actual event.

You're not published yet? No matter. While waiting for the presses to roll (or the pixels to align), here are a few things you can do to jump-start your writing career:

1.) Own the power of your words.

Say "I'm a writer." Audibly. With integrity and authority. Go ahead... I'll wait.

How difficult was that? Did you feel like an imposter? Did you weaken the impact with a little laugh at the end? Did you speak at a different decibel level than normal? Did you hiccup into upspeak?

The words we speak have tremendous power. If we can't say words with confidence, chances are that we'll never act to make those words a reality.

The power of our words can be a double-edged sword. Wield them with care. Beware of speaking anything into existence that can damage your fledgling writing career. "I'm a loser." "I'll never get published." "My book stinks." "I can't handle rejection." These will suck the life from your writing faster than a carb-starved dieter can suck the filling from a Krispy Kreme.

If you write and submit that writing for possible publication, you will get rejected. This is a universal truism, as immutable as Planck's constant or the certainty that if you drop your toast it *will* land peanut-butter side down. Rejection stinks, but it doesn't mean your book does. It means you have to keep on saying "I'm a writer," keep on learning, keep on revising, and soldier on.

You otter be writing!
Crack those knuckles & get to work!
Saying "I'm a writer" has great value. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In addition, when said in response to the question "What do you do?" it can lead to fascinating conversations and connections that would otherwise go unexplored.

A writer writes. That's the definition of the word. A swimmer swims. A runner runs. An otter... otts? There is no exam that must be passed, no certificate of authenticity, no licensing board that determines who gets go define themselves as "writers."

The only requirement? Well, that leads me to #2...

2.) Write.

Often. Daily, if possible.

Polish your manuscript, by all means, but set a deadline for putting that work aside and beginning work on something new.

It is critical to have an answer to the age-old industry question: "What else do you have?"

The publishing world abounds with stories of writers whose first project sold wasn't the first project finished. This is actually the norm. The standard. Who knows? The project you are shopping now might need a reader base before it finds a publisher. It's very possible that your next project is the one that will establish that base. So -- get to work!

Some are chicks. Some only aspire to be chicks...
3.) Ax "Aspiring."

You know your social media profiles -- the ones you hope and pray the Powers That Be will stumble across, read, and become desperate to sign your witty self to a lucrative publishing contract? Now is the time to run -- don't walk -- and delete "aspiring" as a modifier to "writer." Few things scream "unformed egg-contained chick" more.

"Aspiring" means "I hope to be... someday... when I make it a priority and turn the television off and get off of Facebook and have a plan."

Make today the day you quit aspiring and begin perspiring. Roll up your proverbial sleeves, set a targeted date for completion, and get to work.

Perhaps today is the day aspiring takes a back seat to conspiring. Perhaps it's time to stop sitting around waiting for the world to come knocking at your door and instead make a plan for your success. Take a class. Find a critique partner. Solicit advice from publishing pros. Start building your network and enlarging your circle of influence. Soon, you may discover that the progress you are making in your writing is inspiring others as well as yourself...

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