Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don't Approach Your Writing Randomly

I see a lot of writers out there really trying to get published. They write and write. They submit. They edit. They are going at their writing with a wild abandon. The problem however, is there is simply no focus to their writing. So what are these writers doing? They are trying to write everything.

This group of writers are the people who tend to follow trends and what the latest thing is an editor or agent is looking for. They attend a conference and hear that a publisher is opening up a new line. At that moment, they proceed to start writing a story that will fit that line, or go back and start tweaking a story they already have to fit that line.

These authors start writing for one line, hear an editor is actively acquiring for another line and then dive into writing a project there.

These authors often have stories in 3-8 different genres and trying to throw all of those ideas out there to editors or agents in the hopes something will stick.

But, the problem with this approach is they are not fully learning that genre or building their skills in that genre.

A good analogy of this would be the approach many parents are taking with their kids and outside activities. I hear so many parent say, "I want to expose my son or daughter to as many different sports or activities as I can. I want them to get a sense of what they can really be successful in." While this sounds like a great idea, to be successful in something takes time. It is not something that you just acquire after one season of soccer or a summer league of swimming. The end result is that the kid is just exposed to a lot but not very successful in any of the activities. When asked at the end of the season if they want to go on, the kids often decide to shift to another activity. Why? They were not on the A-Squad. They simply were outclassed by those kids who do this on a regular basis and really focused their attention on that skill.

I would also add that the approach of having a lot of different projects makes it really hard for the agents when we are submitting projects. If one project doesn't work, editors will often ask if this person has something else. If all we have is a project in another genre, the conversation is over.

The big message here is to focus on your writing. Know where you want to be and do it well. Don't try to be good in a lot of things. Be really good in one thing.

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