I wasn't always an aspiring writer. Until my second year of college I was an aspiring actress. Burned out from the grind of performing in 50 productions, I turned my sights to business, specifically accounting. I climbed the corporate ladder in a railroad, group medical practice and a pharmaceutical company, and attained the top of the Finance positions -- VP and CFO. I was used to working 60 to 70 hours a week, surviving on minimal sleep and juggling all the balls in my life with a husband and 5 kids. When the last company I worked for was purchased, and it gave me the chance to do what I was passionate about – Write.
For most of my life I've been a closet writer. Commuting hours were spent developing plots. For years, I never told my family why I kept my laptop next to my bed. I actually dictated an entire book while commuting and could barely keep up with the transcribing.
I learned a lot in the corporate structure that has helped me pour my passion in writing. I thought I would share some of my thoughts today.
Make a plan
- Define your long-term goal
For me the ultimate goal is publication. Once you know your goal, you need to define the steps or short-terms goals in order to actualize your goal. You can either work forwards or backwards. Let's work forwards.
- Complete your manuscript
- Make it shine
Completing the manuscript was never a problem for me. I have almost ten first drafts sitting around. (The head-hopping in the first books makes my heart ache.) I also spend one week a month on new WIPs through Book-in-a-Week . The remainder of the month I revise and edit completed manuscripts.
Making my books shine is a problem. So I took local writing classes and joined MFW - my local RWA chapter. I take on-line courses. My bookshelves hold half-read craft books. (Come on – you think their boring too.) I've found great critique partners who have helped hone my craft. I think they like to read craft books more than I do!
- Test the waters
I am a contest junkie. I've gotten great – and not so great – feedback from contest judges. If I agree with the comments, I make changes.
- Take Risks -- Expose yourself to possible rejection
Initially, I only submitted partials when requested through a contest. Now, with the 2010 Golden Heart Finalist in my credentials, I've begun querying both agents and editors.
I also submit to on-line or conference critiques. This netted me a manuscript request through the Golden Network Retreat. You just never know when the door to opportunity will open.
- Make a professional impression
Dress for success and work the conferences. I'm an outgoing person, but sometimes I love anonymity. You can't fade into the crowd at conferences. You are working. In Orlando, I introduced myself to every person who had a partial or full manuscript in their offices. Hopefully, I made a positive impression.
Writing is a business – suck it up
Rejection isn't fun, but it is part of our world. Don't let it get you down. They are not rejecting you as a person – just your book. As much as it hurts, you need to have really thick skin. Everyone will not like your writing style, or plot or characters. You need to find that one person who can be your advocate.
I visualize myself one day standing at a podium holding up a stack of rejections and saying "I got published. You can to."
Writing isn't easy. It's a job and one that I sit down to 7 days a week. I keep a spreadsheet (yes – number crunching is in my blood) to track how much time I really spend writing. This does not include checking email or the loops.
In both business and writing, putting in the hours to learn your craft, polish and be professional should pay off. I'm hoping so at least!
What life lessons have helped you with your writing career?
Originally published at Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog