Saturday, September 15, 2007

Writer's Block or Writer's Excuse?

“What are some of the obstacles you've faced and overcome?” That’s the question I like to ask when I interview people who are leaders in their communities, companies or organizations. Although the individual replies vary, the majority of the responses reveal that each person has managed to transform some type of adversity into opportunity.

What I have observed in my own 30-year career is that the opposite is true as well. Unsuccessful people not only let obstacles stop or delay their progress, they actively put barriers in their paths, preventing them from reaching their goals. We all are guilty of this to some degree. After all, it is easier to say we don't have time to write because we work and have children, homes and mates to look after than it is to get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, or work through lunch hour at the office.

It seems to me that each time I make a concerted effort to rein in my concentration and focus on the completion of a goal, the Universe sends something to tempt me away. Just when I decide to spend the next two weeks finishing the final edit on my book, I get called for a lucrative assignment or interesting project that gives me reason to put my personal work on the back burner—again.

I've decided this is the Universe's way of testing my resolve. It's saying to me, "OK, Shelley. You say you want your book published. For everything you receive, you must give up something. What are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want--some time, some income?”

Without exception, I have regretted my decision each time I placed my goals on hold "just until this next project is finished." And, each time I placed myself ahead of the distraction, and said "no" to stepping off track, I have been rewarded with an inner sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with following my heart rather than my head (or pocketbook). The decision to pursue my true calling has also led to far greater riches in the long run than any assignment ever pays in the present.

Knowing what is the right thing to do and actually doing it are two different things. Most of us need some support to help us hold steadfast to our goals. Being part of two writers groups provided the motivation and support I needed to finish my novel. If I didn't have that commitment to produce a chapter a month, I'd probably never have finished my novel at all.

If you've ever felt the desire to pursue your writing dream, don't let obstacles stop you and, above all, don't construct stumbling blocks to your success. Set attainable goals and find a support system to keep you going when you're tempted to get off track. Finally, start visualizing your book signing or whatever symbolizes the accomplishment of your goal...and know that I'm there with you, cheering you on.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Are you serious?

Lots of new writers contact me with questions about how to get their articles or books published. Some hire me to coach them. A few get past the first critique and assignment. The ones who stick it out get published. Why are the numbers so small? The fault lies not within the publishing industry (or my tutelage); the fault lies within the writer. Most people simply do not want to put in the time and hard work. Many have unreal expectations about what an agent or editor will do for them. Others think once the book comes out, the publisher will spend a small fortune to promote and sell it.

I never discourage anyone from writing. Writing for pleasure and expression is a pleasurable past-time. It's fun and rewarding.

But, if you're serious and want to publish your work, get educated about the publishing process. You've got to love the process or you'll never have the stamina it takes to see your name in print.

My suggestions to all writers who want to become published is to go to a writers' conference, subscribe to writers' magazines and ezines (find suggestions at my website) and join a writers' group. Oh yeah, and buy my workbook "4 Ps to Publishing Success: Get your manuscript off your desk and into print" when it comes out in a few weeks. You'll get a complete overview of everything you need to know about the publishing process and practical information on how to navigate the system. Available as an old-fashioned print book or new-fangled eBook.

Once you know what you don't (now) know you don't know, it's going to seem a lot easier. And your future agent and editor will thank you for it.