Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"If You Want To Soar With Eagles, Don't Fly With The Turkeys" - Dr. Keith Bell

I thought I would start today with some thoughts about who writers hang out with. Having a great resource system around you is crucial for the success of any writer. Actually, you can see this if you look at many of the successful writers in the RWA. At first, I was shocked when I saw this but the more you think about it, the more it becomes a reality. Take a look at the rosters of the RWA chapters with those NY Times Best sellers in it. What you will find is that there isn't just one, there are a ton of successful writers in the group. On the reverse side, take a look at what the chapter is producing in terms of their published authors and you will see a ton of other people writing the same style and at the same publisher.

Is it in the water? No! It is the company these writers are working with. It is the feedback they provide one another. Unfortunatlely, you will find the same thing with the chapters that might not have so many writers that are successful (yet, we are about to fix that!). Although the desire to publish might be strong, if there is no successful guidance to assist the writers, then the odds are, the success will be a long way away.

Now, before I go any further, I want to stress that this is not a slam against smaller chapters of the RWA or any comment at all against one group or another. It is simply an observation.

I have mentioned this man before, but Dr. Keith Bell has put together a great book about excellence called 76 Rulese for Outperforming the Competition. Rule 15 is the comment about Eagles and Turkeys. In his case, he simply states "if you hang around with those who don't value excellence, you will dwell in mediocrity." I like this comment and I always stress this with athletes. However, I think this element can also extend to success and not simply competition.

Have you ever noticed that all of the "A" students hang out together in school. No, this is not because they are afraid of being beaten up! They do this because they see a resource in each other. They have found a way to tap into the resources each other person has within their group. It is interesting to also note that the "A" students don't just happen to form randomly, but they seek each other out and form the group. They don't simply wait for luck to stumble across their way.

Writers can and should do the same thing. If you want to succeed, you have to start hanging out with those that can help you out. You may be in a small town without a small writing group. So what, go in search of the excellence. Attend those conferences and find the people you can hang out with and learn how it is done. In other words, find the "Eagles" and learn to soar.

But what about the others in your writing groups? Bring that knowledge back to them. Become the Eagle in the chapter and get the others to fly as well.

I should stress, this takes getting out from behind your computer and talking to people. I should also stress that you can be fooled easily by those that think they have excellence but are just being drawn into a direction that might not be what you want. Stay your course and know what you want. Make it happen for you.



  1. I have to get out from behind my computer???? And talk to people??? Not just faceless twitter handles and smiling photos of writers I have never met?

    All joking aside...I totally agree. A couple of writers have been a real resource to me. Very grateful.

  2. My local chapter of RWA is jam packed with erotic writers.

    I have plenty of people to go to for laying out a sex scene. But the rest of it? Meh.

    This is why I'm on the net and reading your blog!!!