Signs…or habits? Sometimes when I talk to new writers, they say certain things that make me think, “this person isn’t getting published anytime soon.” Sad to say, but you can usually pick this up within a few minutes of conversation. So here’s my personal top-ten list of things that wannabe writers say that are red flags:
10. You never finish what you start, or you don’t submit what you do finish.
90% of the people who want to be writers don’t finish anything. 90% of the people who finish never submit it. (Sorry, anecdotal statisics…but it sounds about right.) So what if it’s crap? You’re still ahead of 99% of the wannabes out there.
9. You let rejections bother you, and you think a rejection with some kind of criticism in it is the worst.
Last year I had 12 accepances and 160+ rejections. Getting a lot of rejections is a good thing. And by the way, getting a personal rejection is a sign that you were worth more than a form rejection. Worth MORE.
8. All things considered, reading books is not your favorite form of entertainment. (Adjust this to suit your medium!)
If you’re trying to be a creative profession in a field that you don’t love, WHY?!? And how do you expect to know your audience…if you’re not part of it?
7. You only write when you’re in a happy place, with no interruptions or distractions.
Every successful writer overcomes challenges. Stephen Hawking has written several books while basically unable to move. What’s your problem? Lack of priorities, that’s what.
6. You don’t let anyone read your work until it’s perfect.
No work is ever perfect. None. If you never let people read your work until it’s perfect, you never submit it.
5. You “only write for yourself.”
Have fun masturbating.
4. You try to make everyone in your critique group/writing class happy.
Have fun destroying your work: no book is meant for every audience, and yet you’re trying to make all possible audiences happy. The only way to do that is to destroy that parts that make it good…for your actual audience.
3. You’ve been revising for more than a year.
You’ve been second-guessing yourself for more than a year. That’s your editor’s job, Gomez.
2. You’ve been working on your first draft for more than 12 months per 50,000 words.
This works out to 136 words a day, or about 6 tweets on Twitter.
1. You can comfortably say, “So I have this idea for a book…” or “I have lots of ideas for books.”
You know what happens when a writer hears this? The red flag for bullshit gets thrown, and you start looking for ways to escape the conversation, because dollars to donuts, the next thing is going to be, “Want to write it for me?”
AUUUUUUGGGHH! Run! Run! IEEEEE!11!!
WRITERS DON’T HAVE IDEAS. WRITERS WRITE.
If you find yourself doing these things, never fear! Once you quit doing them and start writing, it all turns around 🙂