Thursday, July 07, 2005

Must Have Commitment

My wife is one of the most sensitive sleepers that I’ve ever met.  Several years ago I faced a steep book deadline. I knew it would be difficult to complete this deadline when I signed the contract—but I was determined. Despite working a full-time job, I took this deadline which had different stages for completion. Crunched on several fronts, I was committed to turning in my material on these deadlines.  The volume of writing and the time involved meant writing throughout the night.  My wife came to my office about 3:30 a.m. asking, “Are you coming to bed?” I answered, “Probably not tonight.” A few hours later I pushed the Send key and turned in my section on the deadline.  My little story is just one to illustrate the type of commitment you must have to your writing and the details of publishing.  Commitment is another key characteristic that I’ve observed in bestselling authors. I’m continuing my series of characteristics for successful writers.

Yes, lots of things interfere with our deadlines. It’s called life. Children are ill. We get ill. Family members get into accidents and we are called on to help. Someone in the church or an organization needs our help. It can be a million different things.  Repeatedly I’ve watched successful authors meet their commitments in the face of such difficulties. It’s one of those values which distinguish them from the crowd of other want-to-be writers.

While this quality of commitment is revealed in a number of different ways. I’m going to highlight several of them. First, these writers are committed to the craft of writing.  Several years ago bestselling author and long-time writing coach Sol Stein held a limited attendance workshop in his home.  It wasn’t an inexpensive session and only a few people attended the event.  Later I heard about one of the attendees who had written a little known book called Left Behind.  Why would someone like Jerry B. Jenkins (who at that time had written over 100 books) take the time, expense and energy to go to a session from Sol Stein? Jerry is committed to the craft of writing and constantly working to improve his craft and learn more about storytelling. His attendance wasn’t a publicity stunt yet he slipped into the session and learned from this seasoned writing teacher.

Or several years ago at a major writing conference, I spotted a best-selling author in the crowd. Often this author is a keynote speaker at writing conferences but she wasn’t even listed on the faculty roster.  She had no plans to teach sessions. This author came with her daughter-in-law to take a series of classes. Her daughter-in-law expressed interest in writing children’s books and this author freely admitted that she knew nothing about this area of the market and was at the conference to learn. My respect only increased for this author and her commitment to the craft of writing.

Also these writers are committed to learning about the market and the audience for their work. If they write fiction, then they read fiction and are involved with other fiction authors. If they write nonfiction, then they are active in nonfiction circles. If they write children’s books, then these authors are active in the children’s market to follow it and learn from any means possible.

In addition, these writers continue in the face of rejection. Another bestselling author friend has faced some struggles to find a place to publish her books in recent years. This author has over six million books in print yet is very approachable and unassuming. Her particular area of the market tends to run in cycles and at the moment it’s in a dry or downturned cycle. Is she giving up? No way. She continues to have new ideas and new proposals. Her enthusiasm seems unflappable and I admire her commitment in the face of rejection.

I have no idea what you are facing with your writing life today. I’d encourage you to look inside to see if you have this commitment.  It will carry you ahead for the days and weeks ahead.

1 Comment:

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Cath Left a note...

I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about commitment and the writing life. There is much that drives that commitment in me: my calling from Christ, the stewardship He has entrusted to me, and the passion He has placed in my heart to communicate His Word to others. Thanks for the encouragement at a time in my life when there is a lot on my plate--writing books, messages, leading women, designing websites, laying out magazines, and teaching for a Christian university. I just "happened" on your blog and it was a joy to read. Thank you!


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