Feb 19, 2014

Writing your heart's desire

Too many writers begin the maze of publishing by bumping into walls. We think there’s one path and we just keep pushing ahead, backing up, and pushing ahead until we find the way. 

Yesterday I heard a writer say that she thought it was a matter of persistence.  If she kept submitting materials long enough, she’d eventually break through.

That might work for her and she might end up where she wants to be.  In my case, I pushed through and realized I was in a place I didn’t want to be.

There is another option.

It’s okay to back up, take a look at the whole maze, and choose a path to the end you desire. It’s not cheating or anything.

The key is to decide what you want. 

I remember listening to a talk radio show many years ago.  The caller was asking for financial advice
for a trip he was taking.  He planned to fly to his destination, travel by rental car the next leg of his trip, and then fly home. “This is the least expensive way to travel, right?”

The host of the show went on for twenty minutes, explaining why this was not a sound financial decision.  He berated the caller for making such a poor decision and asked, “Why would you even consider this?”

The caller answered, “Because this is the trip I want to take.”

The host responded in frustration.  “Then you’re asking the wrong question! Don’t ask me to justify your decision based on sound financial planning. I can’t do it.  Instead, you should be asking how to make your dream work for the least amount of money.  Unfortunately, your time’s up.”  

End of call.

Many of us writers are asking the wrong questions. 

Before we start through the publishing maze, we should be clear about what kind of trip we want to take.

If we start down the path of traditional publishing with goals that do not mesh with traditional publishing, we’re going to bump into a lot of walls.  We’re going to be yelled at a lot along the way.  We may be told we’re stupid or untalented or going the wrong way.  We’ll get standard advice for how to fit in with traditional publishing and, when we choose not to follow that advice, we’ll be scorned.

Why would you not listen to all that traditional publishing advice?

Maybe it’s because you want something different from your career. Maybe it’s because you want more freedom.  Maybe it’s because you have different goals than the publishers you’re asking to publish your work.  

It’s as simple as defining what you want.  

Don’t ask anyone else to justify your path for you, especially not for financial reasons. (The obvious advice there is to choose a career other than writing.)

Define what you want.

Back up and look at that maze.  Identify where you are now and where you want to be. Is your writing a good fit for that path?  Is your heart in it?  If so, set some reasonable goals and make it happen. 

Work on the craft of your writing to fit the path you’ve chosen.  Shut out voices from other paths.  Their advice does not apply to you.

The more centered you are, the more clearly you’ve defined your goals, the better are your chances of success.

I wish you your heart’s desire on your writing path—never anything less.


This week I’m writing about the process that led me to the decision to self-publish my debut middle grade novel, Spillworthy. If you’d like a sneak peek at the cover, opportunities to win advanced reading copies, or if you’d just like the inside scoop about upcoming book-release events, please request admission to the private Spillworthy Facebook group.