Monday, February 1, 2010

Stay positive to keep writing on track.(Get Started).


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Getting published is impossible. Ever hear that or think it yourself? As an established book author and magazine writer, I occasionally get discouraged and entertain thoughts like that, too. But such limiting beliefs can be damaging, causing self-doubt and loss of motivation. They're energy drains, and dealing with them takes time and effort that could be better spent on your creative pursuits. Here are five common writing beliefs that can stall your progress, with tips on how rethinking them can help you stay motivated to finish your story or book:

It's impossible to get published. Certainly the odds don't look good. Ask a typical agent how many clients she takes on, and she may say fewer than 1 percent of the people who query her. But that's a misleading statistic. First, you won't be querying just one agent (and once she signs you, she won't be querying just one publisher). Even if all agents take on only 1 percent of the people who query them, they're not all going to take on the same writers.

Second, a lot of the material an agent (or editor) rejects is abysmal. If you're constantly seeking to improve your writing, eventually you can find yourself in that top 1 percent. Is it hard? Sure. But you're competing with a lot of people who aren't actually much competition at all!

Many thousands of books are published every year--including plenty by first-time authors. One way to rethink this belief is to get information. Find out what worked for other writers instead of focusing on what the odds are.

It's about whom you know. Sure, if you're married to a media mogul (or better yet, are a media mogul), your odds of landing a publishing contract are a bit better than the average joe on the street. But while it's helpful to know agents and editors, most published writers don't have an inside track. I know I didn't. What worked was getting to know agents and editors, which I did by attending conferences, querying them, and getting my work out into the world.

It's not perfect, so I can't send it. You'll never send anything this way. How did I overcome my perfectionist tendencies? I turned submitting work into a game. For my first nonfiction book, I aimed for 100 rejections before my next birthday--after all, to get 100 rejections, I'd have to send my proposal out 100 times. I actually got a book contract on my birthday.

Nobody's buying (fill in the blank). It's true that some genres sell better than others, but that doesn't mean you have to hang up your pen if you don't write what's trendy. There are plenty of opportunities for writers of all kinds of genres, especially if you factor in niche publishers and e-publishers.

If this book doesn't sell, then I'm a failure and I'm going to stop writing. A writer I know said something along these lines, and she's having trouble finishing her book. When you're in the middle of writing your book, don't burden yourself with sales expectations. Remember, the only way you can really fail is to stop writing.

So what if your belief isn't on this list? Greg Korgeski, a licensed psychologist as well as a freelance writer and novelist, suggests using the following strategy after you've clearly identified the thought that is holding you back: First, write out the belief that's causing you problems, e.g., I'll never get published. Then ask yourself: What's the evidence that this is true? If you go into a bookstore, you'll see that plenty of people do get published. Ask: What are other possible ways to think about this? For example, isn't posting on your blog getting published? Realize that your belief is not true. Consider all your options--you could self-publish or find a more welcoming e-publisher, for instance. Finally, ask: So what? In other words, what's the worst that can happen? If you don't get published, will that stop you from having a good life?


COUNTER limiting beliefs with accurate information about the publishing industry from these books and blogs:

* 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might by Pat Walsh. For writers interested in how the sausage gets made (so to speak).

* The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. Another helpful book on publishing, with a slightly gentler approach.

* Publishing-insider blogs, including those from literary agents Janet Reid (, Nathan Bransford (http://blog. and Kristin Nelson (http://pubrants.blogspot. com), as well as Pimp My Novel, ( by a sales rep at a major publisher, and Editorial Anonymous (http://editorial

Jennifer Lawler is an agent with Salkind Literary Agency. She is the author or co-author of more than 25 books, and her articles and essays have appeared in Family Circle, Oxygen and many other magazines. She blogs about publishing at http://

Source Citation
Lawler, Jennifer. "Stay positive to keep writing on track." The Writer Mar. 2010: 13. General OneFile. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. .

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