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7 Reasons Writers Dreams Die and How To Resurrect Them
by Jennifer Brown Banks
“The truth shall set you free.”
Let’s face it. The only thing missing to clearly classify
the demise of many aspiring writers’ dreams of becoming a
“professional” is the official eulogy. In other words,
upon close examination and reflection, their career as a scribe
is pretty much dead. Kaput! It’s lifeless and going nowhere…
They’ve stocked their in-home libraries with how-tos written
by literary experts, they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on
writing workshops and classes, they’ve even immersed themselves
in the markets—with no return for their investment. Perhaps
you’re one of them. Believe me, there’s a better way.
After more than a decade of writing and teaching, I’ve identified
these seven common career killers, and how you can overcome them
to achieve publishing success.
A lack of discipline— In the field of writing,
there is no such thing as an “overnight success.” You
must pay your dues. Becoming a professional requires writing regularly
and persevering through repeated rejections. In the words of a famous
Nike commercial, “just do it!”
Not having a business mindset— Many folks
foolishly believe that making it in this business is all about being
good with words. Think again! Being a “professional”
writer takes ingenuity, savvy, marketing skills, discipline, creativity,
smarts, and direction. The publishing industry is very competitive.
What do you uniquely bring to the table? And how will you serve
Burning bridges unnecessarily— An editor
pays you late on a piece you wrote. Your byline doesn’t boast
the correct spelling of your name. To sound off on the situation,
you blog or write a “nasty gram” to the publisher. Big
mistake. Choose your battles wisely. You never know when you’ll
have to cross paths again with the same person, even at a different
publication. And the publishing world is smaller than you think.
Dependence on lady luck— “Luck is
when preparation meets with opportunity.”
Not seeking help and/or mentors— Professional
athletes have coaches. Award-winning vocalists do too. Take your
performance to a higher level by enlisting the help of a writing
coach or successful mentor. They can often be objective in helping
to identify strengths, weaknesses, and strategies.
Treating traditional guidelines as “gospel”—
Pick up any how-to book for writers and you’re sure to find
a chapter on perfecting query letters. Although it is the typical
norm, it’s not necessarily the path to pursue. For instance,
I’ve written and successfully sold almost 500 articles, columns,
and commentary pieces without ever writing a query. Do what works
best for you, based upon your lifestyle, writing objectives, and
Not targeting the right publications— Your
piece can have Pulitzer potential. Still, if you send it to magazines
without doing your homework, you’ll meet with defeat. Make
sure to check writers’ guidelines, archives, and a few recent
copies of the publications you choose to pitch.
By observing the seven principles above, your writing career is
sure to have a healthy prognosis in 2008.
© Copyright 2008, Jennifer Brown Banks
Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com
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