Saturday, November 05, 2011

You Can't Win If You Don't Play

When it comes to all the schmoozing and self-promotion aspects of writing, I'm a big wimp and colossal whiner.  But at least I've learned one cardinal rule since I became a grown-up.  You can't get published if you don't put yourself out there.  Overnight success is more myth than reality.  It certainly isn't the norm.  And if you're like me and you hate self-promotion, the whole process of building a digital platform can be enough to send you into the fetal position.  So, what do you do?

Okay, there's no way to avoid self-promotion.  But there is a different way to come at it.  My critique group today pointed out that digital presence is more than just blog stats.  (Yes, my grasp on this stuff really is that simplistic).  It's all the many ways that you register on the radar, all the little blips, that can pave the way for the time when you push for something bigger.

Write stuff and submit it, over and over.  Doesn't have to be novels.  Make it whatever you can manage.  Because you can't win if you don't play the game, and you can't get published if you don't stick your neck out and submit your writing.   

Obvious advice, right?  But I remember a time when the thought of showing ANYONE my writing was beyond terrifying.  Over time, I've sent in a script here, a short story there, a novel that wasn't ready yet, an article, an audio theater piece, a picture book.  These days, while I'm plugging away at the exhausting and protracted process of revising the novels, I'm submitting short stories.  It gets a little less terrifying and a little more run-of-the-mill with each step.  And then I keep writing so I don't obsess over the waiting game.  I try not to let too much time go by without something being out there in the universe.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I slip.  It's one step at a time.

If you're feeling discouraged or hiding your work in a drawer somewhere, this post is for you.  Rip the bandaid off.  Show somebody.  Write something small and put it out there - a poem, a short story, a letter to the editor, a skit.  Something, anything.  Write it.  Put it out there.  Write something else.  Put it out there.  In the end, the fact that other people read what you write is what matters the most.

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