I’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…
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