I have decided that being a good writer is like trying to lose weight.
Both are complicated by having appetite and ambition that often exceed our willpower or work ethic. We can easily visualize and dream the desired end result. Getting there is the challenge. Yet what’s the first thing we ask someone who just scored a six-figure publishing deal or someone who lost a sizeable portion of their body mass? The same thing: “How did you do it?” We hope there are shortcuts, but sadly there aren’t.
Unless you are one of those odd people who can lose weight by eating an apple a day (that mysteriously kills all further appetite until mealtime), there aren’t any means of melting fat other than burning more calories than you consume. Period. End of Story. (And don’t tell me about enzymes, food combining and weight training–the impact, if any, on the calories in minus calories out equation is negligible.) Bottom line: losing weight is HARD.
Guess what? There aren’t any shortcuts for writing either. Sure we like to hope we have a natural talent for writing that was merely waiting for a quiet moment to disgorge the fruits our our genius, but that is a fool’s paradise. Writing requires study and practice and iterative feedback. It requires hours of solitary tapping of fingers on computer keys or scratches of pens and pencils on paper. Hours of bleary-eyed consumption of successful writing examples also factors heavily. And that’s just to craft a compelling and well-written story.
If you want to sell what you write, you must develop yet another required palette of skills–the ability to condense your hard work into a marketable hook, query, and synopsis, the ability to network, to foster word of mouth buzz, to understand the publishing business inside and out.
Bottom line: wanting to be published is not enough. You must be willing to work HARD for it.
Ironically, the harder I work at writing, the more I need to work at dieting. Seems I only have so much mental energy and focus. For now, I’m chosing imaginatively plump vs. pragmatically lean.