By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
If there's one thing I've learned about the writing journey over the years, it's that there's never just one way to success. Multiple roads lead to publication.
Some paths have long detours, frustrating road blocks, deep valleys, and winding paths that seem to lead to nowhere. The author has years of wandering before finally getting published.
Others have a straight shot. The author seems to arrive at success overnight.
Whether our journey takes forever, happens quickly, or falls somewhere in between, there comes a point where we may grow stagnant. Our footsteps slow down or even come to a standstill. Perhaps we lose our enthusiasm for publication, our energy level drops after the initial excitement for writing fades, or we may even grow weary from all the new stresses.
Sometimes, the journey may be taking so long that we start to think, "What's the use?" or "Why bother working so hard for nothing?
Unfortunately, I've seen many good writers fall by the wayside. Their footsteps grow slower and slower until they're practically crawling along. Some have even stopped writing altogether. I no longer see the #amwriting enthusiasm from them on twitter. Or when I check in to see what they're working on, I discover they're on the same project as before.
If you've been reading my blog long enough, you know I'm NOT opposed to writing breaks. I took a seven year hiatus from my writing career when my children were younger. So, I completely understand the need to back off and refresh ourselves.
But, for those who are still plodding along the publication pathway, I want to encourage you not to let discouragement, disillusionment, or disappointment fill your journey with quicksand.
Nowadays, output is becoming more important than ever before.
For those pursuing traditional publication, it's never wise to get stuck on one book or two. First, agents and publishers like to know that you're capable of writing more than one book. Second, if one book doesn't sell, then you have a whole stack of books to keep querying. The fact is, every book you write increases your chance of breaking in. And the good news is, if a publisher doesn't end up wanting the plethora of books you've written, they don't have to languish in a drawer. You still have options.
For those pursuing self-publishing, James Scott Bell (author of Plot & Structure) says this in a recent article titled We Are All Long Tail Marketers Now: "[For] self-publishing writers, the ones who are making some good money at it . . . volume is the key. That's what wags the long tail."
He goes on to say that no matter what type of publication we're pursuing, "We're entering the age of long-tail marketing . . . which holds that the profitability of a business is directly proportional to the number of products it has for sale over time. The more products—factoring in quality, of course—the longer the tail."
In other words, the more books we write, the better chance we have at finding success. Essentially, we all need to keep persevering, push ourselves through the slumps, and put out quality stories time after time.
So for those who have found themselves slogging in quicksand lately, I encourage you to keep writing. Give yourself daily or weekly writing goals (or a combination of both which is what I do). Set a time limit for when you'd like to complete your book or editing (i.e. 12 weeks or 16 or 20).
Then once you're done with the book, give yourself a limited amount of time "off." Don't let it drag on indefinitely. Put a plan into place for when you'll start the next book.
Always keep moving forward. Keep your writing output high. The more you write, the stronger your writing muscles grow. Yes, take a break if you need it. But then get back to work and don't let excuses slow you down.
What about you? What does your writing output look like these days?
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