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What I Know

Photo by Felicia Cano on Flickr

Athena – by Felicia Cano on Flickr

Recently, I wished I knew what I was doing. Writing, mostly, I decided, but there are some things I know. Here we go:

1. Showing up is only half the deal.

You want to be a published writer? Showing up is huge, but it’s only half the battle. Doing the work is the other half. You can sit in all the coffee shops you like, with your cute laptop and your foamy milkycoffeedelicious drinks, but if you’re not doing the work, you’re not reaching the end.

If you want to be a published writer, you write the scene.

You write the scene that comes after that.

You write the next scene.

Write the next one.

You repeat until you can type THE END.

This is called doing the work.

2. Worry about what you can control and only that.

This is story about control
My control
Control of what I say

Control of what I do
-Miss Jackson

Writers tend to worry about things they can’t control. What will people think about my work? What happens if no one reads my work? What if I get a bad review?

Absolutely none of these are the end of the world. (Oh, it feels like it, but it’s not.)

Chances are, you will get a bad review.

Chances are, someone will dislike your work.

(Both of those means someone read your work. Breathe!)

Will I end up on a ballot? Will I get a shiny rocket?!

Here’s what you can control:

  • What you write.
  • What you finish.
  • What you send into the world for publishers to consider.

Have you done the work? Have you typed THE END?

You control how you work.

Return to point one. Showing up is only half the deal.

3. Shut up and write.

Truth: real life happens to everyone.

Truth: your years of work will be overlooked.

Truth: no one will value your writing space or time the way you should.

If publishing matters to you, shut up and write the scene.

Then, write the next one.

Write the next one.

Write the scenes until you can write THE END.

Writing is not magic — though it can feel that way when it’s going well. Writing for publication is like any other job. It consists of hard work. Of putting words down, of stacking up pages, until you have all the pages that story contains.

[queue the sports metaphors]

You can talk a good game, but no one goes out onto the field and just stands there — do they? You have to pick the ball up.

You have to move the down markers.

You have to do the work.

Some stories work.

Some stories don’t.

You won’t know which you have until you stack those pages and reach THE END.

Write the scene.

Then?

Write the next one.

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