Monday, November 30, 2009

Are You Showing Up or Just Saying Your're On The Way?

I am a person that believes in being someplace on time. Now, when I say that, I am talking about not simply walking into the meeting at 7:00 if the meeting is to start at 7:00. For me, I am going to be there before the meeting starts. If I am to do something during the meeting, I will be there even sooner.

Along the same lines, I am also a person that if there is an opportunity for me to make a difference, or to be a part of something, I will make every effort to be there. This includes voting, participating in a survey or simply giving my input. And, the time factor comes into play here as well. I will not wait until the last minute to jump into the mess. I will be there from the start.

As I got up this morning to get the day started, a comment my wife uses in her classes came to mind. She is always telling her students something Woody Allen once said: "80% of life is showing up." For many authors, the simple reason they are not published is that they simply are not showing up. These are authors that will tell you they are working on a book, but when you see them a year later, they are likely on to the next project with the other one still incomplete, or they are still working on the same one.

If you want to be a professional writer, you have to show up. You have to be there every day when you wake up in the morning. You have to commit to the the game and stick to it. There can be no excuses.

So what does this involve? Write every day. Attend conferences. Submit queries when you are ready to be published. Read and research the business daily. Invest in memberships to writing groups. Work with critique partners. Blah, blah, blah.

I know you ahve heard this, but I thought I would bring this up for several of you writers out there.

  • If you did the Novel In A Month program, are you going to be finished today, or is there a "reason" why you aren't finished?
  • If you had a request from an editor or agent, have you sent that project in?
  • If you have "looked at membership" in an organization, have you sent the check yet to get going?
  • If you have a story idea, are you working on the outline or that chapter today?
  • If you have wanted to get an editor or agent to your writing group, have you called them, or is it on your "to do" list for today?

I can go on with this but I think you get the idea. No more excuses. Don't just say you will do it. Just do it! I have told students in the past that I don't want to hear that they will do better, just prove it to me. I dare you!



  1. Great post. I too am a huge believer in being on time for things when I have plans / events that involve other people. I like your post in that it points out to me that it's just as important to "show up" for myself.

  2. Awesome. Love the "I dare you" part. Talk about motivating!!

  3. Question. I've heard it said "rewrite" is not writing. My last project is finished but I'm doing contests and rewrites according to suggestions and an agent rejection. There are also two books in the works.

    I'm a perfectionist who finds it hard to prioritize time to new projects when the old one isn't totally dead yet.

    Is that a mistake? I usually get a story going and then leave it in my WIP until I can give it my full concentration.

    This whole issue of "rewriting" not being "writing" has me confused. I spend a lot of time rewriting on finished projects.

  4. Excellent typo! "Infest in memberships to writing groups." Take away the "in" and infesting memberships sounds so much fun. I now want to infest things.

    I have an excuse, but I think it's a good one. Stomach issues. Gastropareisis, they finally decided a little while ago -- then my medicine stopped working. And I'm not giving up. I extended my work-time. Same nano spreadsheet but with the ending time, set at the end of January, and the word count set at 100,000.

    That change gives me a more manageable goal of less words per day. I think I can keep up that pace even if I continue to have multiple doctors appointments each week and (more importantly) if I continue to feel like someone stuffed a large pillow and several bricks into my stomach when I wasn't looking.

    I may not be showing up as quickly, but I will get there. (Novel number one is on hiatus, pending completion of number two because several blogs have suggested I will have a desperate desire to edit it again once I've made my way through the second).

  5. And I worry so I must explain more -- I wasn't meaning to be rude or overly picky. I really do love the happy accident where a typo gives a sentence an interesting new meaning that makes me think and imagine -- unlike my typos where I only seem to stick extra commas in sentences to confuse things.

  6. This post is so true. Thanks for posting it.

  7. A word of caution to new writers who might be like me; showing up is important but take the time to present your best work.
    In the overwhelming excitement of being requested to submit my work for review I bubbled up a synopsis from a chapter review (I got a chopped up piece of work that fits a five page requirement but after mailing left me wanting to beat myself up with a cucumber) and I sent a cover letter that had typo’s.
    However, the disappointment in myself caused me to rewrite the synopsis into something I can now live with, so the message to keep on doing the work that will allow you to reach your goals is correct. Just do yourself a favor and don't make my mistake and put something out there you now regret like I did. Worry about your work as well as the deadline.
    Keep on trucking….. You All!