Writers contact me frequently, asking how they can get their novel published. I usually take a few deep breaths, knowing they won’t like the answer. There’s an apprenticeship, I start out, one that for most novelists will take at least ten years and up to four written novels. The silence tells me the writer either hasn’t considered practice as a step in the process or else this writer thinks he/she will be “the one” to break the standard rules.
Writing Tip for Today: What does the typical writing apprenticeship entail?
- Hearing the “Call,” and developing your writing skills aren’t the same thing. It’s a good thing to feel in your bones that you are meant to be a writer. Maybe you even feel you’re destined to be a famous writer. But most writers–even the famous–began as lowly practitioners, making mistakes, getting frustrated, maybe even quitting on occasion. But the famous writers always pick up writing again. And good writers are always refining their skills and writing, writing, writing.
- Don’t like getting wet? Get a dry suit, one with a very thick skin. Rejection is awful, but once you as a writer understand that very few rejections are personal, they don’t soak in as much. Everyone gets rejected. The best way to advance is to submit. When personal rejections (as opposed to form rejections) start rolling in, you know you’re getting better.
- Get quality feedback. If you belong to a mutual admiration crit group, you can’t be getting honest feedback. Find the toughest group you can get into and use your dry suit and water wings to keep from drowning. Be faithful to revise, but don’t try to please everyone except yourself.
- I’m a Believer in having someone who believes in your writing. Your cheerleader can offer comfort when the rejections or critiques are painful. A fellow writer is the best choice–non writers rarely understand what you’re going through.
- Write, write write. Write crap. Write as if nobody’s going to ever read it. Through the thousands of hours, millions of words and bazillion ideas, you will find your voice, you discover what you have to say, you learn why you felt that Call to Write.
Try This! I’m a believer in goals. Wherever you are in the apprenticeship, make a weekly, monthly, yearly and five year goal. Where do you wish to be in 5 years?