Does “Putting in the Time” Really Matter?

How long does it really take before a writer is ready for publication? Does it take years? And how many books does a writer need to finish before they’re ready?

Recently Writer’s Digest had an article titled “Put in the Time” by author Sue Grafton. In it she says this: “My big gripe about newer writers is they’re not willing to put the time in. Somebody’ll write one book and they’re asking me who my agent and my editor are, and I’m thinking, Don’t you worry, sweetheart, you’re not any good yet. Give yourself time to get better. Writing is really hard to master. . .”

On the one hand, her bluntness made me a chuckle. But on the other hand, I realized how discouraging that kind of blanket statement would have made me feel earlier in my writing career.

The longer I rub shoulders with other writers, the more I believe length of time and number of books are mostly irrelevant factors in the quest for publication. I’ve met writers who land an agent after trying for ten years and others for two. I’ve seen writers get a contract on the first book they’ve ever written and others who don’t get contracted until the twentieth.

So, in an effort to encourage aspiring writers, I want to throw out the reminder—each writer’s journey to publication will be different. There’s no magic formula for years and books necessary to acquire an agent or book contract.

But—you knew that was coming, didn’t you? Time and number of books may be different, but mastery of basic fiction writing and story-telling is a common denominator.

I’m a judge this year for the Genesis Contest, a national fiction contest sponsored by ACFW. One thing that’s struck me about the entries I’ve read so far is the lack of application of basic fiction writing skills.

If any writer hopes to make it to publication, they must excel in the foundational skills of the job. The same is true of any profession—surgeons, pilots, mechanics—at the very least, they all have to master the basics of their career. I sure wouldn’t want to have a surgeon operate on me if he didn’t know his job inside and out. Would you?

Why should we as writers think we can acquire book contracts, if we haven’t mastered the basic skills of our profession? We often want the process to be quicker and easier. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing that somehow we’re different than the masses of other writers, that we have what it takes, that we don’t have to study hard, that learning fiction-techniques are somehow beneath us.

However, the writers who are well on their way to publication are the ones who’ve put concerted time and energy into learning, studying, and practicing the craft of writing. It might take months for some and years for others. The point is, those who succeed have worked hard at mastering the foundational concepts of fiction-writing.

For most of us, gaining proficiency takes writing more than one book. My first books were my “growing” books, the ones in which I practiced all I was learning. They weren’t of publishable quality. But they were the stepping stones to get me to where I’m at today.

Like any profession, no matter where we’re at, we should be continually striving to improve. That means even under contract, I’m always on the lookout for good writing craft books to add to my personal library. I love reading blog posts about writing techniques because even if the information isn’t new, it helps keep me sharp and striving to practice what I’ve learned.

My advice in a nutshell? We need to do whatever we possibly can to master the basics of fiction writing. Devour craft books, practice what we’re reading. Learn, learn, learn. Write, write, write. Ad infinitum.

What do you think? Have you ever been discouraged by comments about “putting in your time”? Do you agree or disagree with me that it’s less about putting in your time and more about learning how to write well? How much effort have you given to mastering the basics of fiction writing?


  1. AMEN!! I couldn't agree MORE with every single thing you just wrote. It's all about learning the craft. It about studying and immersing yourself in fiction.

    The beautiful thing, is that if this is truly a passion, if writing is truly something your just NEED to do, then studying is a joy. I LOVE reading great craft books. I love learning more and growing and stretching as a writer. I don't even mind that my first two novels most-likely will never see the light of day, because they helped me grow.

    I want to never stop learning. I want to always have a teachable spirit/attitude when it comes to writing.

    And I agree - we all learn and grow at different rates. But regardless, time is still involved.

  2. Jody, I completely agree with you. Each writer's journey is different, there is no magic formula at all. At the end of the day its the effort we put in that counts. Someone told me that writers live for rewrites. Rewrites and more rewrites until the manuscript sparkles.
    We writers like other professionals have to constantly update our skills, by reading good writing craft books, mastering the basic skills of writing, attending workshops which hone our skills and being open to constructive criticism.
    Rachna's Scriptorium

  3. You definitely need to put in the time. I've been novel writing now for four years, and studying the craft for ten. It is not until this year that I feel confident enough about my work. It took a lot of time an effort, tears and fury, depression and excitement, to feel how I feel now.

    I still don't know if I'm ready to be published. I won't know until that one agent calls and offers me representation. But I'll still keep trying. And I'll still keep writing.

    I've been trying to live the life of two people. The first half, working, earning money, the second half writing, honing my skills. It's hard. And I'm sure it never gets easier. But we have to try to remember, WHY we do this. What is ultimately driving us to put in the effort? Passion. If you don't have the passion, you'll never be able to justify the time and effort.

  4. Oh Jody! What an excellent post. It is a little discouraging to think I may have to write "20 books" to get published, but then, I'm not stupid enough to think my first ms is a masterpiece. Far from it. In fact, there is so much wrong that I think I need to abandon it and move on.

    You are spot on! (as always!)

  5. Thank you for the encouragement. I do need to put in more time and keep pressing in :O)

  6. Nope. I don't mind putting in the time because I enjoy that time. It's like me with dancing. Dancing never felt like work. Every lesson, recital, audition etc was making me better BUT best part was I loved it. Even when I sucked or got rejected.

    Same thing with writing. When I love something I don't count the time I spend on it. I just do it to make myself happy.

  7. What sage advice! Yes, I agree that it's different for everyone, but you must be willing to write,write,write.

  8. Funny. Yesterday I read this month's WD and saw a letter in response to Grafton's comment. It had not been kindly received. I'm with you. It's all so subjective. Mastery is where it's at.

    How fun you're judging this year! Congrats.

  9. Jody,
    It's true--"putting in the time" isn't enough. I've had several editors tell me that a writer has to write three books before they "get it." Another writer says you have to put in 10,000 hours (at anything) to succeed. My take on that is what I learned years ago in sports. Practice is only valuable if you ingrain good habits and proper execution. If you practice poor habits, you'll fix them in your muscle memory, whether physical or mental.
    Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

  10. I can look back on early articles I wrote and see how much I've improved--and some of that drivel was actually published! The book I'm working on now are loosely based on family and Michigan history--so at least family should love it, and I'm learning a lot! FUN!

    Congratulations on being a judge!

  11. Whenever asked, Michael Jordan's advice to basketball players was to work on the fundamentals. He said he was continually working on the fundamentals of his sport.

    The same is true for us. The fundamentals are the key and mastery is an ongoing challenge.

    Thanks for sharing, Jody.

  12. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the 'craft' books. Don't get me wrong, I have a bunch of them on my shelves that I've read, some I haven't, and I have gleaned pieces of information from them. But, every single one of those books about craft, etc., is from the point-of-view of that author and what works for them. So, the thing to remember when reading any craft book is that what worked for said author might not work for you, but there is knowledge to be gained.

    I think the more a person writes, the more time they devote to their craft, the better they will become as writers. There are rules to remember - adjectives are bad, starting with dialogue is bad, etc. - and to break when the mood is right. Only by writing can we hone our craft.

    Now, don't get me wrong, the books offer useful information, but information overload is not always a good thing. For me, my writing, I've learned to take what I read in those books many years ago and apply the parts that work for me, and discard the parts that don't work. In the end, we all write in our unique way, and the way that works best for us as individuals. ; )


  13. I agree that each author's journey is going to be different. Each story is different too. It took me twelve years and eighteen books to get my first book out there. But then another book, I sold within two months on my first try.

    Some books I've worked and reworked and revised the heck out of and still haven't sold, some books sold after one or two edits.

    A writer's natural storytelling abilities, their learned skills, the economy, who they know, finding the right editor/agent at the right all factors in to how much time it'll take to sell a story.

  14. I am a freak. Yep, b/c I'm not discouraged by this, but encouraged. Time is a gift. That is cemented in my thinking even more as days go by. And learning, sheesh...I. LOVE. IT. I thank my parents for bestowing a love of learning on me.

    Wonderful post, Jody.

    ~ Wendy

  15. I'm just getting started, and I know I have a long way to go to get ready for publication. The thought of a book contract at this point scares me because I know I have so much to learn. This is a good reminder for me and is spurring me on to find the materials I need to study to get better. Thank you!

  16. I not only agree with you Jodi, I thank you so much for writing this post.

    I did happen to read the Writer's Digest post about putting in your time and it was very disheartening. It made me feel as though, no matter how hard you studied and put into practice everything you'd learned, they were still going to make you wait, just OUT OF SPITE. That was the true impression that I received from that post.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  17. What a compelling post! We think when we read masters whose words just flow that it came about by letting ink spill onto beautiful journal paper. The truth is more about the welder, getting nicks and sore eyes and ruining tons of steel. The bricklayer, living with cracked hands and having to regrout and regrout and regrout.

    A craft.
    A lifetime of learning.

  18. Great post! I agree 100%. I love learning. I love practicing. I love improving. I don't consider it doing time.

  19. What you write here Jody is true, not only for fiction, but all genres, including memoir. Learning one's craft is crucial in any profession, as you said. You can't just splatter your thoughts, ideas, and words onto a page and imagine they are publishable. At first I thought I could just take journal entries and string them together with transitional sentences and introductory paragraphs. Ten years later I had a publishable memoir.

  20. I can't help feeling that fiction--especially genre fiction--is becoming more "cookie cutter" as more and more pressure is being put on writers to qualify themselves for the task before they embark on it. My advice (and I'm following it) would be to write one novel completely out of your own head first, get a few people to read it and listen to what they really like and dislike, and then submit the revised version. Chances are that it won't sell, but then many first novels don't.

    By the time you're done with your first try, you'll be more aware of yourself as a writer - what you do well, what you do badly. THEN you can start picking up "craft" books, which will have much more meaning to you and will be less likely to put the brakes on your creativity. In the meantime, keep writing!

    The one prerequisite I'd demand for every writer is that they read. Constantly. Genre, lit-fic, nonfiction, poetry, new books, old books... and read like a reader. Don't over-analyze. If you don't love reading, how can you write for people who love reading? Turn off the TV!

  21. Yes, you are so correct in what you've said in this post.

    It all began for me many years ago when I first picked up a book and was transported to its lovely fictive dream.

    Learning the craft of writing is something that one can't ever stop doing.

    Reading, writing, revising, and revising as many times as necessary, is the best way to live the life of a writer.

    And it should take all the time it needs.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  22. Jody, in general, I don't appreciate blanket statements from those who have arrived and just assume everyone else who hasn't quite made it yet simply hasn't been doing the work. You certainly don't do that, but the author you quoted sort of did. It demeans the hard work others may well be doing. Your response was much more respectful. Honoring everyone's journey and their place within it, and encouraging them, seems like the more productive approach for everyone. :)

  23. I remember when I first started writing and heard similar messages, I thought, "But that doesn't have to apply to everyone, right?" But now that I'm a little further on the path, I realize just how much I DID have to learn and how much I STILL have to learn. Now I just hope I'm not one of those Genesis entries you

  24. The thing that came to mind reading this is "why do I write?" If I'm writing because I genuinely love it, I will take the time, no matter how much that is to learn the craft.

    I think there are a lot of people who, for one reason or another, pick up the little things in crafting a story easier than others do. Just because it takes longer or shorter doesn't mean that learning the craft isn't going to happen.

    I also think that a great way to learn the craft is to be in a good critique group. They can help you when things don't work.

  25. Another excellent post, Jody!

    I've interviewed eighty debut authors over the last two years. I've been struck by how unique each of their journeys to publication was. No two were the same. There is no pat formula or set time frame. The one commonality was that they'd honed their craft to the point that they had publishable story.

    Like Richard, I've heard we must put in 10,000 hours. I've also heard we need to get the first 1,000,000 words of garbáge out of our systems.

    I smile when I read those recommendations because I've spent four years working at my writing and have passed the 10,000 mark. I've written six books and rewritten four. Since the first, which is hidden in the recesses of my hard drive, was some 200,000 words long and the others around 100,000, I've surpassed a million words. The numbers proved true in my case. I started having success recently and was offered representation from my Dream Agent.

    Do I wish I'd reached this point sooner? No. Quite honestly, I wasn't ready. I'm still not. I'm learning new lessons now. However, I like to think I'm getting closer. But one thing I know is that there will always be more to learn--and that's exciting.

  26. Patrice KavanaughApril 12, 2010 10:43 AM

    I think it's a mistake to assume absolute milestones to realize a dream--xx number of years of writing to be "good enough", xx number of books before "the one," xx number of rejections before "the call." Everyone's journey is different, as you rightly point out. The way forward is not always a linear path, either. Detours, pauses, speedthroughs, slowdowns can all be part of the experience.

    And people learn in different ways--some like books, others like classes, others work best 1-on-1.

    You really have to figure out what's best for you and go with that. Checking in with others who are also on the path is very helpful. Thanks to blogs like this one, that's easier than ever. Patrice

  27. I agree 100% that every writer's journey to publication is different. We all follow our own path to publication. Some are short and straight. Some are long and winding. We're all human and all unique, and what's going to work for one person may not work so well for another. But yes, above all, all writers should learn the basics.

  28. I agree with you, Jody.

    Creating publishable work requires several types of learning: 1) practicing the craft; 2) reading; and 3)life experience.

    The balance between these three is complicated. One writer may learn mostly through #2 and #3, so that #1 doesn't take as long. Another writer may be doing a little of all three for a longer time. It's not a simple A to Z progression that happens just because we write enough books. Some people might write a hundred books and never develop the objectivity to be really good writers. That's the amazing and wonderful thing about writing: it requires us to develop understanding of others if we are to do it successfully.

  29. I'm not a fiction writer, but this is great advice for ALL writers. In this microwave and tweet paced world, we all want to achieve greatness in ten minutes or less. I know I have been at it for at least five minutes, and I am getting very impatient! molly

  30. Jody, so well put. As a writer of craft books in addition to fiction, I obviously believe this. I had been told writers are "born, not made" and believed it for a long time. When I decided I had to learn to write, or go down in flames trying, I began a rigorous study of craft books, read Lawrence Block's fiction column each month in WD (still have binders full of them) and even now continue to read about the craft.

    Brain surgeons have to train for years and then keep up with the journals and so on. Why should writers think it's any different for them? (Well, there is one difference: when we make a mistake no one dies. But I digress).

    So keep making mistakes...keep trying and growing...take risks...learn all you can, write all you can.

    Great post.

  31. Great post, as always.
    I blogged on a fellow aspiring writers journey just a few weeks ago. His story is truly inspirational, he knew his first book was the real thing and kept going with it re-writing, querying and never gave up, he is now published March 5th,2010 his book went to press.

    His simple message is to never give up.

  32. Oh! I get to comment right after Mr. Bell?? Yowza! (I'm a HUGE fan of Plot & Structure!)

    I'm very thankful for all of the writers who create books designed to help others learn the craft. As soon as I began reading and studying them, my early rejections made sense.

    I don't know when I'll be "good enough" to get published, but it's fantastic having books to guide me through the heavy issues.

  33. I'm not discouraged to put in time. I've put in over a million words and fifteen years. I'm pretty sure it's about time. ;) How exciting to be a judge in the Genesis contest! Can you say which category? Perhaps after the contest you can give us the low down. ;)

  34. Yes we need to put in our time, but as you said, everyone's time will be different. Though it's hard not to, we shouldn't compare our journey to others. As you said, it may take years or it may not, depending on the author.

    I've put in quite a bit of time, but I'm not sure the learning ever really ends. The craft of writing will always have something new to teach me, and I'm happy to continue learning.

    I think it's beneficial to join a good critique group (though I'm not sure I've found the right fit for me yet). Objective feedback from other writers is invaluable.

    We also hear how important it is for an author to read books to know what works. However, I believe reading what DOESN'T work is also beneficial. That's why I love agents/editors who blog about what works and what doesn't. I often wish I could be an intern for an agent or editor just so I could learn from the slush pile.

    Thanks for this post and have fun being a judge for the Genesis contest.

  35. Good post, Jody. I agree it's about learning to write well, regardless of how much time that takes. I've always thought of this journey as an apprenticeship -- study the craft, practise, learn from mentors (by reading great books, by working with critique partners, etc.) -- and that takes time. Knowing it takes most tradesmen at least four years to learn their craft gave me patience to settle into the apprenticeship for the long haul, lol.

  36. The longer I put in my time, the more I know that it's just true--you have to do the work. Even people who get lucky enough to land an agent or contract with their first work have almost inevitably learned the necessary skills some other way--creative writing classes, short stories, poetry. And I think every functioning writer out there will tell you they've got stories dating back to their early childhoods that will never and should never see the light of day.

    For me, the most ENcouraging thing about this advice is that it means I shouldn't give up. I'm not a failure if I don't get an agent on my first query. Or even if my (please God, someday) agent can't sell my first book. I'm just putting in the time.

    - Liz

  37. I've finishing up my fourth book. I'm almost shocked to look back at what I've written even a year ago and next year I will probably feel the same way about this year. We can always improve. I'm headed to a writer's conference in a few weeks to learn even more! Good post.

  38. As a young writer in the beginning of my journey, I completely agree! It's disheartening when I hear about writers younger than I who published their first book to critical acclaim and I wonder, "Why couldn't that have been me?" But I can't think about that. I must think about my own writing, putting in my time, and writing, writing, writing. I compare my stories written in college and to my stories written now, and I have improved. I'm making progress by working hard! Everything you said is spot-on, Jody.

  39. I totally agree with you. I've never been discouraged by comments about putting in the time because I always knew it to be true.

    However, I do think it's tough. I've been studying craft. For four years, I've worked on my novel whenever my son sleeps. It's hard work, and technically there's nothing to show for it yet. In my mind I feel like I'm a writer, but I have no complete novel complete to prove that. That's the part that drives me crazy.

    I know the next phase is no easier, but I really look forward to it just so I can hold some tangible symbol of my efforts.

  40. From what I've observed, yes, the writer's journey is an individual one, but it does seem that there are some commonalities.

    There are few professions where a person can succeed without some degree of education, training and/or experience, and yet many would-be writers believe that if they have an idea and know how to hold a pen it should be a cinch to write and publish a book. Perhaps if we familiarized ourselves with the publication process before we began, we wouldn't be under the illusion that writing and publication automatically go hand in hand.

    We increase the odds by learning and practicing, and that part of the journey varies with each individual. How long it takes to reach the desired destination once we're properly equipped depends on our perseverance and God's timing. If we do our part the rest is in His hands.

    I don't get discouraged because while I'm waiting and slowly working my way ahead I get to continue doing what I love... writing!

  41. This is really another excellent post. I totally agree that time and number aren't what makes a publishable story. Like you said, people learn and apply stuff differently.
    I've worked hard, I think, to master the basics. Interesting about the Genesis entries. It's always fun to judge contests, I think.
    Hope you enjoy!

  42. I think putting in the time is crucial. Writing is a skill, and like any skill it takes time to learn and hone the craft. Some people hit it lucky the first time out, but that doesn't make them master craftsmen straight away.

  43. If that advice would have been passed along to me a few months back, the devastion would have been evident. I would have sobbed for sure.

    Now, I know better. This is no overnight success type of business.

    I'm learning that I need to show that I will be faithful and then God will enlarge my territory. It's important to be faithful over the little that I have today.

  44. I totally agree!! Learning to write well often goes hand in hand with putting in your time. After all, what are you doing with that time? I've been writing seriously for over ten years. Now I've secured the representation of a quality agent who believes my work is publishable, but I feel I still have a long way to go.

  45. It never bothers me when I hear authors say things like this. It actually bugs me when people are offended by it.

    Once, I was at an event where Steve Young was speaking. His brother introduced him and read part of a letter Steve had once written, right around the time he had started to gain notoriety in the football world. In the letter, he talked about how no one has any idea how many years it takes to become an overnight success.

    That's always stuck with me, and it's why I keep working. One day, with enough work and effort, I might get to be an "overnight success" too.

  46. I completely agree with you. You can write for decades and still not write well or you could be one of those lucky people who have been writing for months and BAM - book deal. Everyone's different and we should try not to be discouraged when others succeed before us. We're all in this together, no matter how long it takes.

  47. Writing is a skill. Like all skills - baseball, painting, gymnastics, karate - it requires practice. NO skill set can be mastered without master teacher/trainers and practice. Repetition, repetition, repetition. You are absolutely right, Jody.

  48. Jody, I meant to also mention how much I appreciate you and your blog. Over on mine you'll find I've chosen you for the Beautiful Blogger Award:

  49. I think there's no replacement for putting in the time. Even if someone gets a contract off a first book, the subsequent books will be even so much better after honing and refining, learning and growing. Plus then I don't feel like a dork for not having a contract ;)

  50. I really am trying to do that--and am always trying to improve, learn more, and develope my voice. It really does take time, discipline, and perseverance!

  51. What it really comes down to is patience. We want to quickly learn, quickly write, quickly get agent and get published. I have to remind myself that there isn't a deadline on getting published and to take my time.

  52. Totally agree. Put in the time and read, read, read, write, write, write! I made the awful mistake of cranking out a novel (my first) in four short months...and then wasted three years trying to sell the sloppy, unedited ms. I've since written two more novels and I STILL don't think I'm quite ready. Patience is key! Thanks, Jody, for the great post.

  53. Hi Jody -

    Building skills takes practice. Some writers have stories in their hearts, but lack basic grammatical/writing abilities. Everyone learns at their own pace.

    I think the question is more, "are we willing to put in the time and effort it takes to sharpen our writing?"

    Susan :)

  54. Great post. When I first let myself write about five years ago, my impression is that people didn't struggle for years. They either had it or they didn't. I've learned a lot since then.

    Some writers have a knack for it. I have two people on my blogroll - one is sixteen and the other is twenty-two - with agents and book contracts. That's demoralizing.

    Then I read "Late Bloomers" by Malcolm Gladwell. See my post about it:

    When I first started, I submitted too early. You were right - like other professions, there was much I needed to learn. I'm hoping that my willingness will get me there.

  55. Jody, I agree with everything you've said, and I'm still only in the story idea and research phase of my fiction writing career. I would love to be in the position to have publishable material, but I'm forcing myself to study the craft (and practice) prior to the serious undertaking of a full-length novel.

    In the meantime of digesting every book on craft I can find, I'm working on magazine articles to learn the business and establish good working relationships with readers and editors alike. I absolutely can't wait to begin one of my fiction ideas, but I'm exercising patience.

  56. What upsets me most is reading a published book with poor writing. I don't want my name associated with poor writing. I'd rather get it right first and then take pride in my story.

    But of course the question remains..when will I be satisfied enough with my writing that I'm willing to put the hard work and perseverence required to then get it published? Sending it 'out there' is the hardest thing a writer can do.

  57. All good things take time, and writing well is one of those things. Good info, thanks so much for sharing.

  58. What a beautiful, inspiring post, Jody! You are so right, we are all on our own individual paths!

  59. Absolutely, I've been discouraged. But then I pull on my Big Girl shoes and put forth the effort. And remind myself that, like you said, my journey will be like no one else's.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jody.

  60. I think if something is rushed, it shows. I am plodding into my second year of writing my first novel. My friends, say I will never finish, I say I will, when I am sure it is ready.

    Each writer has a different lifestyle that gets in the way of writing, so their journey to publication will differ.

    Interesting post, thanks.

  61. I've always held a strong belief in the idea that if the writing is good, the work will eventually get published. I don't get discouraged that I'm not publishable yet either, because I know my writing must improve first. Anyone who is busting at the seams to get their books out there should be examining their writing first. Is it really as good as it needs to be? Are there areas in the writing that can be improved? If any of this is a yes, then you're not ready yet. And as you say, everyone's ability to "get ready" works on a distinct timeline. Great post, Jody.

  62. Writing is rewriting. Even for the pros.
    What I was told: You must know the rules in order to break them.
    Practice. Practice. Practice.
    Allow critique partners (who are also practicing) to give thoughtful advice, based upon writing rules.
    Write. Rewrite. And write some more. AND Read.

    Great post!

  63. It took me 14 years from starting my 1st ms. to getting the CALL. What frustrates me is that some people think there's a secret handshake or something that they need to find out so their path will be smooth and quick. Now after 30 books, I'm still improving, still polishing my craft. Secret Handshake-sheeeshsshs.

  64. Great post. I agree that it's not really fair to make that kind of blanket comment. My first novel attempt was definitely a practice novel. But since I wrote that one, I've dedicated myself to learning craft. My second novel turned out loads better and has recently won a contest and (just found out this weekend) finaled in another.

    I'm hoping this will be the book that gets published. But of course some will say, hey, it's only your second book, you haven't put in your time. But I agree with you, that's not always the biggest factor.

    Also, I feel your pain on judging contests. I've judged two this year and some of the entries were PAINFUL to read because of craft issues. You can have the best story ever but if you don't have a handle on the basics of craft, you're going to be spinning your wheels.

  65. Ok. I quit. You have to WORK to become a writer??? No one told me that. Sigh. ;)

    You're soooo right, Jody. I've learned to study study study - but then sometimes it's discouraging when you realize after all the studying you've barely earned your bachelor's (hypothetically) and you feel you've put in enough time to boast a literary PhD! :)

  66. Funny, nobody mentions talent - as if that is no longer an element in the equation. But it is...

  67. Hey Jody, great question - I learned to write from my father, but I learned to tell stories from my summers in Pensacola. And if you want to find out a little more about my personal education as a writer, please read my latest post on Talk to you later - Peter Damian Bellis

  68. Hmmmm...

    First, I totally agree with you! This post was spot on, like everyone else mentioned!

    I especially loved the distinction that everyone's path will be different. Some will have very short paths, some will have very long and arduous ones.

    And you are totally right, it all has to do with learning the craft of writing. And we ALL learn at different speeds. We all learn in different ways, too. Some of us need to write 10 novels before we perfect it, others of us can perfect the first one and query it.

    Now, I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't say I preferred door #1. But I also know God's timing is so much more perfect than mine, and I'm resting in that.

  69. YES. I love this post and agree with everything you've written here.

    Sometimes, it's discouraging to read advice saying that you'll need to write write write for years before you can even begin to approach publishing and yet you see writers selling the book they wrote (and go on to be bestsellers).

    I'm telling myself that it's different for everybody, this process. Maybe it'll take 10, 20 years for me to get there. But if I don't give up, I WILL get there eventually. :]

  70. If it were just a matter of time, that wouldn't allow for talent. I think some have the ability to write well with little effort, and others have to practice, practice, practice...

    There are so many factors in the ever-changing market.


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