Very recently, I’ve stopped purposing to network with lots of writers. Mostly it’s because I keep running into writers who are in the publishing stage and that’s all they are interested in talking about. The groups I’m involved in on LinkedIn are great, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m just choosing to take stock of where I am in my process and go from there.
Most of the time, novice writers focus on the wrong end of the process. We get caught up trying to figure out who the best traditional publishers are, whether we should go traditional or self, how to handle rejections, you know all the things that we are so far away from needing to worry about. And then, the writing suffers. We don’t spend much time writing and we complain about it to other writers.
The reality is, that each writer must stop and take a good hard look at why they write, where they currently are in their pursuit of the career and what the next step is–not the end step. I came up with, for my own purposes really, the different stages to the writing career. They are:
- Deciding to take your writing seriously √
- Identifying for yourself what and how you want to write √
- Learning the Craft ¤
- Writing, Writing, Writing ¤
- Rewriting, Rewriting, Rewriting
- Researching how to write a Query and the various publishing platforms
- Submitting–Queries and Short Stories
- Dealing With Rejection
Currently, I am in the stages 3 & 4. I want to learn how to write better than I already do. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have created a “writing class” for myself and am learning what I need to know. But I still want to stay in touch with other writers. I have to decide which writers I need to have a relationship with and stay in touch with and who I can put off communicating with until a later date. Those writers I need to “hang out” with are in stages 3-5. We can share where we are, our frustrations, what we’ve learned and help each other along.
Once I’ve reached stages 4-5, I can start including people who are in stages 6-7. Hopefully, by that time, some of the writers I’m currently networking with will be in those stages by then.
As I believe very strongly in paying it forward, I am not at all disinterested in communicating with people in the first two stages. That is one of the reasons I write this blog, to help them along. Don’t get me wrong, I will still communicate with others who are farther along; but I must stay focused on where I am and what my current goals are. Getting caught up in all of the distractions that I really don’t need to truly worry about at this stage in the journey is counter-productive.
This is where being real about your process comes in. I know where I am and the end goal (publishing,) however, just as in many of my previous posts, I liken this journey to a road trip. On a road trip, you don’t just get in the car, start it and all of a sudden you’re at the end destination. There are stops to be made on the way. To make my life easier, I’ve decided to only focus on where I currently am–learning the craft–and the next immediate step–completing 1 novel and about 4 short stories.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a lot for me to learn about the publishing aspect of the business. However, if I spend too much time worrying about getting published, I will not spend any time improving and working on my writing. After all, don’t I have to write a great story before I can publish it?
So, my message for today is, gauge where you are and plot out your next step (goal setting), then, look at what you need to do just to get to that next step and possibly a little of the one after that. Remember, writing is a solitary journey most of the time. It is up to you to decide where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Then, get in your car and drive. No one else can drive you to the journey’s end, they can only ride as passengers.