25 November 2009

The Secret

A lot of words
Too many rejections
Not enough love.

Sound like your story? It’s the life of the unpublished writer and it never seems to end. Why is it taking so long? Why isn’t my work good enough? What am I doing wrong? I had a theory and decided to test it. I put this question to some of my published friends.

“How many manuscripts did you write before you got published?”

I got seven responses and I know that’s not an extensive survey but I think it’s a big enough pool to see a few patterns.
Pattern number one: No one said, one manuscript.
Pattern number two: No one said, two manuscripts!
Pattern number three: No one said, three manuscripts!

In fact, the lowest number of manuscripts from page 1 to “the end” written before they hit a winner was four. Where the fourth manuscript was published. The average number was 6 manuscripts. The highest number was 13!
Personally, I think I’ve stumbled on “the secret” here. If you want to be published you need to write, write, write, practice, practice, practice. Every page you write makes you a better writer. Why is practice so important? It teaches you three things that no course, workshop, seminar can give you.

a) Your voice
Voice is something that develops over time. It evolves as your writing evolves. If you don’t write, it will stagnate. The more you write, the sharper and more distinct it becomes.
b) Finding the genre that best suits you
Some writer start out writing single title and end published in category. Others in category start out in medical and end up published in modern. Sometimes, you don’t know yourself. Writing is not just a journey for the reader. It’s a journey for you, to discover where you best fit.
c) The best method of writing
Some writers, start at the beginning of story. Some start in the middle. Some are pansters, some are plotters. Some are a bit of both. Some write late at night, some at 4am. Developing a writing routine or method that makes you the most productive also takes awhile to nut out.

So what’s the moral of this blog.
Just write.
And one day, it’ll pay off.


lesley ann smith said...

very good advice

Anna Campbell said...

Loretta, what an interesting result from your survey. I think someone once said the average period of deciding to get published and actually getting published was ten years. It's a long, hard, slow road but one that's very rewarding! And honestly, the longer I'm in this, the more I believe there's no real substitute for hard work!

Pam said...

Hi Loretta

Thanks for your words here. I'm still an aspiring writer somewhere in that ten years of training by writing, writing, writing before one day being published. Sometimes I wonder if I'm wasting my time but stuff like this says keep going. Thanks.


Linda Rader said...

What a good post! I have heard similiar advice but never put quite this well. (Does that mean I like your author's voice?) Yes tens years from decision to fruitition seems right when you are dealing with the "arts and entertainment fields" and writing is definitely that. This is the right post for me at the right time. Keep writing and never give up.

kym said...

Great advice Loretta. I read a long time ago that it could be a bad thing getting published too early. An average first book (sales wise) is worse than getting your 'tenth' book published first.
Its harder to 'come back' than be good enough to stay there because you have practised your craft.