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

Self-Sabotage—Three Ways to Make Sure You’ll Never be Published

Self-Sabotage anyone? For your convenience, I’ve put together a list of three things you’ll need to get started on your journey to non-publication.

Right about now I can hear a collective, “What the heck is she talking about—-self-sabotage?” Pffff!

I know, I know, you’d all give up your first born to be published, right? Well maybe not THAT extreme, but I’m willing to bet that at least once or twice you turned your head toward the stars, shook a clenched fist and vowed to do whatever it takes to see your words in print.  I’m also willing to bet you meant it, too.  So why aren’t you published then? I mean if you were willing to do whatever, it should be in the bag by now shouldn’t it?

You’re positive you’ve got talent. Our almost sure. Your fifth grade teacher even wrote it on your report card. You’ve read every best seller ever written and determined that you could do a better job. Heck, your grocery list is more interesting than last year’s Giller Prize winner. You’ve got creativity oozing out of your ears. Your mind is brimming with thoughts so unique and spectacular that your head can scarcely contain it all. Not only that, you bought every writing book known to humankind.  In fact, if you laid those books out end to end you could go around the earth two time with some to spare. You stalk every agent blog in the blogosphere. You’re doing everything just right.

So what’s really holding you back?  Why hasn’t your dream come true?

Poor, poor dreams. We use you, abuse you and toss you to the wayside. And then to add insult to injury we tell everyone within earshot that dreams make us who we are. We even look up inspirational quotes about dreams to prove we mean business and post them in our facebook status or on our blogs.

Now I know that for every dream that we leave in our wake there could be any number of reasons why we abandon them. No doubt if I wanted to, I could make this post go on and on. But I’ll spare you the torture and I’ll name three ways to ensure you’ll never be published. Now listen up. This could come in handy.

1. Practise the art of procrastination. Make it your business to learn all the ins and outs of procrastinating. Milk it for all it’s worth. Procrastination doesn’t tax the body or brain, and much like meditation you’ll find it relaxing, a breath of fresh air. There’s plenty out there to keep you from starting that best seller that’s been bugging the heck out of you since you were in high school. You know that story, the one that just doesn’t want to go away. It’ll get you a million dollar publishing contract as soon as you write, “the end.” Remember while you’re lolling away knee deep in procrastination not to forget that special promise you made to yourself one night after you had one too many beers because in your heart of hearts you just know that everything happens in divine order. A sign will arrive and you’ll know it when you see it. The morning you wake up and your horoscope tells you it’s time to start writing your novel you’ll be the first one out of the gate. But not until the time is right, right? We all have to stick to what we believe in even the staunchest procrastinator among us. The Universe will speak to us in its good old time. No need to worry or hurry. Relax and enjoy the ride. The Universe will provide.

2. Spend a wicked sweet amount of time blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email not to mention blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email. I did write that twice because you all know the truth when you read it. There’s nothing like good old social media to keep a good writer from becoming published. Write? Who’s got time to write? The next best thing to being published is reading about it on someone else’s blog. You never know, their success might just rub off on you if you hang around enough. There’s plenty more uses for a computer other than writing so you should be safe. And if all this isn’t enough to keep you from plotting your novel just let me say…Pinterest. Find out what’s cool and popular on Pinterest. After all, it could be something you pinned. If that photo you posted of a blade of Kentucky Bluegrass gets repined 52,643 times you need to know immediately. What better way to ensure you never get published then never starting that book you’re writing?

3. Embrace your inner critic. Take her to lunch, throw her a special party. Bring balloons. Not only that become best buddies. The moment you’re sure that the crap you’re writing is never going to be publishable, your inner critic will be right there to agree. Nothing like a good inner critic to knock some sense into you, I say. After all, in every friendship someone needs to be the strong voice of reason.  Not sure if your writing stinks? Your new best buddy will confirm this beyond a shadow of a doubt cause that’s just the way she rolls. You’ve all heard about “kicking yourself when you’re down.” Well, who better to give you an extra little boot than your inner critic? Why waste the effort on yourself? Just stand back and let your inner critic take aim. She’s your BFF. She’s known you most of your life. Admit it, she’s sure better at kicking then you are at writing.

So there you have it three, count them three, ways to ensure you never get published. Follow them to the letter and I’m almost positive that you can kiss that long held dream of publication goodbye.  I mean who need dreams? Don’t thank me now you can do that twenty years down the road when you’re waiting for the planets to align, while listening to your BFF tell you one more time that your writing truly sucks big time. Not to worry though, you can always turn to the internet to whine and complain about those dreams that slipped through your fingers during your youth. It’s never too late to finally give up on your dream.

So here are three things that have worked for me in the past. You might not want to try them all out at once. Maybe you should just ease your way into it and before you know it, you can be playing an active role on your journey to non-publication.

Have you discovered any special ways to ensure you’ll never be published? If you’d like to tell, I’d like to know.

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