The Biggest Roadblock Along the Road to Publication

IMAG0609I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing process these past few days. As I sifted through some older writing files and reread some of my stories that had been published in literary magazines, I was reminded of that time when publication was only a dream—a dream that felt so very far away.
Yet a dream I was sure would come true…
…possibly….
…maybe….
…hopefully…..
…one day

PRETTY PLEASE!

Over time, as the rejections mounted, as the dream began to look a little fuzzy, I came to a realization about my writing, something that writers don’t often want to admit:

The biggest road block, the thing that was keeping me from being a published author was me.

Yup, that’s right, little ole me.

While there were things I was more than willing to work on—my writing being one of those things—something else was preventing me from being published. I was inadvertently placing road blocks in the way, not because I didn’t want to be published (Lordy, but I wanted it) but because, on some level, I was afraid of it. Fear is the one thing that has the power to hold us back, to keep us from realizing our dreams, and no matter how badly we might want something, we’ll allow that very same fear to put obstacles in our way and keep our dreams from coming true.

I think of these fear-based obstacles as roadblocks because they do just that—they block our path and prevent us from continuing our journey toward publication. When the obstacles show up along the road we can either let these roadblocks stop us or we can figure a way to get past them. And in order to do that it’s important to recognize these roadblocks when we come up against them.

Here are a few of the road blocks I’ve encountered in the past, ones that I unknowingly placed in my path.

1.Procrastination: Believe me when I say I can procrastinate with the best of them. I’ve had plenty of practice, too. There is always something else to do. That something else might very well be important, like spending time with my family or friends, or it could be something as insignificant as watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. If you want to be published you need to make writing one of your priorities. REPEAT WITH ME. “If I want to be published I need to make writing one of my priorities.” You may not be able to write each and every day, but you need to make an effort even on those days when you don’t feel as though you have a literary bone in your body. Even ten or fifteen minutes of writing are better than no minutes. Remember, if you can’t publish what never gets written. No one’s going to publish blank pages. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

2. Believing that you are not worthy of publication: This is a biggie. Too many of us struggle with this. While there are a few writers out there who have unrealistic goals, like signing a million-dollar book contract prior to publication when their writing needs much more work to make it publishable, many more writers struggle with the belief that their writing will never be quite good enough for publication. I’m here to tell you, in order to succeed in writing you have to believe that you are worthy of success. REPEAT WITH ME : “In order to succeed in writing I have to believe that I am worthy of success.” If you’re inner dialogue is constantly telling you something different, you need to give yourself a good talking to. Nothing good is ever accomplished beneath a cloak of negativity. Believe you are worthy because you are. Why wouldn’t you be?

3.Not owning it: If you’re a writer, admit it. Don’t gush over the fact, stammer and stumble to get the words out, own up to it. When I say, own it, I don’t mean for you to shout it from the rooftops because that would just annoy the heck out of everyone, I mean accept once and for all that you are a writer. Forget all that once-I’m-published-I’ll-be-a-writer nonsense. Every published writer was once an unpublished writer. They didn’t become a writer the moment their words were printed, they were writers before that. REPEAT WITH ME: “Every published writer was once an unpublished writer.” Did you think all writers were born with publishing credits? No sir, not a one. They worked at their writing until it was good enough for publication. But here’s a little truth, sometimes even publication isn’t enough to make you feel like a writer. I know, sounds silly. Certainly to be published is to be a writer, right? Yet I can tell you that I had several stories published before I finally, finally admitted that I was a writer. So do yourself a favour and admit it before publication, that way it won’t come as such a shock when you’re holding that first published story in your hands.

4. Saying you’re a writer but not really feeling it: Feeling that you’re a writer means much more than simply saying the words, “I’m a writer.” Anyone can do that, writer or non-writer. Don’t get me wrong, while it’s good to say the words, important even, it means very little if we simply do not feel it. REPEAT WITH ME: Feeling that I’m a writer is more important than just saying it. The day I actually felt like a writer, really and truly felt like one, was the day something momentous happened in my writing life. More and more of my stories were accepted for publication but, more importantly, the rejections that came afterward stopped stinging. I came to understand that rejection wasn’t necessarily a commentary of my work, but simply a story that didn’t catch the attention of the right editor on the right day. Finally, I stopped taking those rejections so personally.

While some of these may or may not be roadblocks you’ll encounter along the way, I feel as though we often underestimate our own self-worth. And when we’re not at a particular place in life when we want to be, we often end up beating ourselves up because of it. Maybe we even decide that it’s just too hard, that we’ll never get there. But we all take our own time getting places–that’s all part of life. Some stories take longer than others to polish. It’s always important to have someone in your corner. Isn’t it only fitting for you to be that someone?

What are some of the roadblocks you’ve encountered along the road to publication

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19 Comments

  1. Thanks for this timely post, Laurie. All of the above. Yes, I do send out stories, but I have to stop and pass the pay / read ones. My most difficult task is finding where I fit. 😮

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  2. I hardly think I have to leave a comment on this post, Laura. You know where I am in this. Still sitting at the starting block. Procrastinating. Doubting myself. Not feeling it. And yet …
    I write (blog) – write reviews and fill-in posts. And I read a lot.
    A big thing that holds me back is the idea that no one will want or be interested in my stories, anyway (having received rejections). I think maybe I have to somehow get into writing … JUST FOR ME.

    Thanks for another nudge.

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    • Keep blogging and writing and reading and reviewing, Lynn. It all counts. I do believe you’re right. As a writer it’s our job to write about the things that interest us not what we think others will be interested in. There’s a big difference. When you’re ready your audience will find you. We all have unique stories to tell. You’ll get there when you’re ready. 

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  3. I couldn’t agree more, Laura. When you decide to be a writer, you take on a job where everything you produce is judged by a complete stranger whose tastes and criteria for judgment are only partly known and mostly guessed at. I figure if you’re going do to something that crazy (and most of us don’t have a choice–we really need to write our stories) then you’d better be as kind to yourself as possible–and proud to say you’re a writer. You’ve just jumped into a career that needs as much courage, commitment, creativity and stick-with-it-ness as any out there. 🙂

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    • Oh, Heather, this is all so true. There is so much judgement out there for writers, the truth being, we can’t please everyone and yet….

      The important thing is sharing our stories. It’s easy, sometimes, to lose sight of that!

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  4. After many many years of writing (and teaching creative writing!) I’m finally comfortable with calling myself a writer, and publishing. And loving it. But procrastination is a horrible thing, and that’s what I fight the most.

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    • It’s a great feeling to be able to say, “I’m a writer” and be comfortable saying it. Great on you! Yes, that nasty old procrastination has sharp hooks. There’s always something else to take our attention.

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  5. So much truth to this post…I am living #1, 2, and 3! I need to get with it!

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    • I’m sure you will, Susan! These things often take time. I’m a prime example of #1. Too many distractions in the world. I need to go into a cave and write. 😉

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  6. everything you’ve mentioned are road blocks for me, though I think #1 is the time and again, the worst one, I think most people have trouble continuing their writings even if they have all the time in the world. I know I have that problem. time is not the problem, it’s the I-can’t-continue-writing is the problem, there’s just so many reasons not to write.

    anyway, great post. have a lovely day.

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    • Lissa, I’ll admit to actually getting more writing done when I’m working, yet the periods of time that I’m not working outside the home I really have to force myself to make the time. Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 Nice to have you visit. 😀

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  7. I have encountered all of these road blocks from time to time. Even once published, I feel that I may not be able to do it again. Making excuses and blaming others is another biggy. Sometimes I just have to sit myself down and tell myself to just do it! A great post Laura.

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    • Yes, even publication doesn’t guarantee that we’ll not doubt our abilities to “do it again.” I’ve spoken to many writers and we all seem to feel much the same way. I guess it comes with the territory.

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  8. Well, you know about my vast collection of rejection letters (and instances wherein plain old silence is the only response to submissions), but I have learned not to take it personally – mainly because I think it really is a needle-in-a-haystack kind of thing – has to be the right story in front of the right editor on the right day. I know I’m in for life (or so long as my brain/fingers cooperate) so I’ll just keep hurdling those roadblocks we all face!

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    • Rejection letters are simply the product of our hard work submitting as well as our determination to find homes for all out work! Keep hurdling. 🙂 And Happy birthday! 😀

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