Saturday, September 17, 2005

Slay the Naysayers

Let’s face it. If you attempt almost anything in the writing life, you will hear the word “no.” Or you will receive the form rejection letters which politely say, “No, thank you.” Or maybe you haven’t even gathered any of those rejection slips because you have the voices in your head screaming, “No.”

It’s a battle to fight those internal demons which whisper, “You are never good enough. You can’t really do that sort of project.”

Many years ago, Multnomah Publishers brought out a colorful little book on creativity. I enjoyed reading the book (while I don’t remember any specifics) but I’ve never forgotten the title, It Won’t Fly, If You Don’t Try. See the truth in these words, you have to try—and in the publishing world—you have to try repeatedly in a given area for it to fly.

Our challenge is to overcome our fears and plunge into the water. Admittedly you have to learn the craft of writing. You have to understand the audience for your article or your book plus you have to learn the expectations of the editor (and meet those expectations). Each of these aspects are fundamental and something that someone can learn. If you don’t learn them, you will be doomed to not receiving a hearing from the editor.

What are you dreaming about getting into print? Are you putting the effort into learning how that particular portion of the marketplace works? For example, if you are writing a novel and have never been published, then you will need to write your entire manuscript—before you send a query into the editor. It’s a basic expectation for first-time novelists that you will have to learn about—then meet. If it’s nonfiction, then you can learn the skills to write a dynamic sample chapter and a complete book proposal, then propose or float your idea with the various publishing houses or a literary agent. If it’s a magazine article, you have to learn about the publication. Some publications prefer to receive complete manuscripts while others will only read query letters. Then you have to learn how to write a terrific query letter for your idea to receive a hearing. It’s something you can do—learn the procedure—then follow the procedure.

The first hurdle is squashing the fear inside you and trying. Learn what it is that you need to get there—then make a plan and do it. I know I make it sound easy but there is a way to slay the naysayers. An old Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a lifetime begins with a single step.”

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