Friday, October 28, 2011

The more I practice, the luckier I get

Warning: this post is rambling:-)

The more I practice, the luckier I get. I'm not sure who first said this, Gary Player or Arnold Palmer, but whoever it was, was right.

When you work in the public eye, most times people see the results when you were successful, not the failures, and certainly not the tasks that you had to do to get from the beginning to the end of the successful venture. We attend a concert and are wowed by our favourite band. What we don't see are the hours and days, even months, it took them to write the music, rehearse it and record it. We don't see them practice for each concert, even though they already know the songs. And that is as it should be.

The same principle applies to other endeavours too: sports, crafts, the arts.. and in my case, writing. Every day I have to take minute steps that eventually result in a finished project. The more I write, the more I send out my written works out to potential publishers, the better my chances of getting published.

So why am I thinking about this? A lot of the time I talk to people who say they want to be writers, and ask me to help/mentor them. And really, I'm happy to share what I've learnt - that's the point of this blog. However, the learner has to be willing to put in the work. You have to be willing to research and write the stories/articles/whatever. You have to be willing to look for potential markets for your work and to deliver your writing within the parameters of their editorial guidelines. You must read to learn from other practitioners of your craft, read works that look like what you want to write, read works that are completely different from what you want to write, so that you can learn from them.

Depending on what writing means to you, you can write what you like and hope some publisher out there likes it too ( and has a market a market for you). Or you can choose a market that closely resembles the writing you want to do and write for them. Either way, you have to write. Regularly. Consistently. Even when you don't feel like it. You have to write, even when you're tired. And you can't give up, even when the results look like crap, and you feel like a lousy writer. You can't give up when the journey feels long and tedious, which usually happens when you work on long projects like books. You can't give up, when some smart fish trash your work.

It's that consistency, that practice, the resilience, that not only helps to improve your writing, it gets you noticed by publishers and readers. It's that persistence, the practice that will eventually see you get lucky.

Another reason I'm thinking about this: after I submitted the first book for the publishing project, I got editorial queries and for a moment there it felt like I'd done a crap job. The scale of the work seemed huge, and I just wanted to lie down and sleep. But I waded through it one day at a time. And now, the queries are almost over and we have dates for the rest of production including printing. And i feel lighter, because I know I will have a product soon. And when people see it, they're not really going to know about the sweat and tears it took to get it done. Some of them will think, "people who did this book are lucky to land assignments like this. I wish I was that lucky." And I guess I'm saying, you can be that lucky. As long as you're willing to do the behind-the-scenes work that will get you there.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Gary Player. Good quote, too. :)

Great post on the ups and downs of getting to a great product. So true. There's a learning curve with this job as with any other.

It's kind of frustrating to work with authors who want help, but fight you for control, for every edit, etc. It's what made me stop looking for ghostwriting work. The general public - the segment that fancies themselves authors - just don't take editorial direction well sometimes.

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