Good writing is about avoiding the shortcuts

Posted: August 15, 2010 in On Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Okay, I admit it. I’ve always looked for the shortcuts in writing. Like not working harder on second, third and fourth

Shortcut road

Image by BaconStand via Flickr

drafts of my work. It’s only recently that I decided to spend time each day to write. It’s what you hear all the time: establish a writing habit and try to write every day.

I’ve always been one to sit down and write a chapter one day of the week or maybe even one day in two weeks. I decided about a month ago to create this habit and I’ve been largely successful. But that is only because I am serious about improving my craft. I could never dedicate myself this way in the past.

Why? I was always looking for the shortest route. Thinking I had enough talent if I could only catch a break I could avoid a lot of the hard work. Then a week ago I picked up Elizabeth Lyon’s book, “The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit.”

She noted there were two types of writers destined to fail. The first was the one who writes everyday, but doesn’t do anything to improve their skills, such as attending workshops, conferences and networking with other writers/authors.  The second type she described as perpetually perplexed. This writer does all the legwork to improve themselves, but they don’t take it to the next level. This person hopes to get by on their talent, but is not dedicated enough to put in the necessary hours of editing and revision, hoping to catch a lucky break (an agent or editor who will discover them) and thus take the shortcut to success.

I had an epiphany when I read this. I was that perpetually perplexed writer. I have come to realize if I want to take a shortcut to success, I must improve my writing and make it so good an agent or editor can’t turn it down. With any luck this will also help me sell more than 3,000 books on my first printing. My goal is for that Best Seller list, albeit in stages–as I add more novels to my resume.

Oh, I should also mention that I thought one book would be all the success I needed. Just to be able to say I got published once and could tell all my friends and family. Now, I want to be greedy. I want that four-book deal and many more after that.

I think my latest effort will get me closer to my goal. I’ve done one revision and am now organizing things like plots, sub plots, characters and timelines so I can have control of my book instead of having it control me. And of course, by writing every day for two to four hours, I should achieve my goals a lot quicker than when I was writing once every one or two weeks.


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