Discouraging, isn’t it?
You write a few blog posts and friends sing your praises. You dream, Maybe I’ve got what it takes to score a publishing deal.
But then you run your idea and your samples past an agent, an editor, or a published author, and the music screeches to a halt. You interpret their “meh” as a scathing critique and you’re rudely awakened from your dream.
Special Note: This is a guest post by New York Times Bestselling author, Jerry B. Jenkins. Jerry’s one of the most successful authors of our time with over 70 million copies of his books sold. Visit: jerryjenkins.com
Unfortunately, I’ve seen it over and over.
Writers ask me for feedback. I believe they want real input, but when they see my suggested edits, their faces fall.
I know they were dreaming I would say, “Where have you been? How has a major publishing house not found you yet?”
They weren’t really looking for input—they were looking to be discovered.
You might have a boatload of talent—enough to tell compelling stories in fresh ways. But if you can’t accept criticism from those in the business, you’re not going to succeed.
I’ve written and published 195 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, yet I still need fresh eyes on my work. And I’ve had to become a ferocious self-editor.
Writing is a craft.
That means you must build your writing muscles and learn the skills.
Writing is a craft. That means you must build your writing muscles and learn the skills.
Regardless how talented you think you are, writing takes work. Many talented athletes never become pros because they believed raw talent alone would carry them.
That doesn’t have to be you, as long as you cultivate your skills.
3 Ways to Hone Your Talent
1. Read, Read, Read
Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.
Writing in your favorite genre? You should have read at least 200 titles in it. Learn the conventions. Know the rules you plan to break.
You’ll become aware of what works and what doesn’t. And you’ll likely see a vast difference in your writing.
2. Write, Write, Write
Dreamers talk about writing. Writers write.
Don’t expect to grow unless you’re in the chair doing it.
Write short stuff first. Articles, blogs. Learn to work with an editor. Learn the business. Get a quarter million cliches out of your system.
3. Welcome Brutally Honest Feedback
The fastest way to shave years off your learning curve is to seek real input from someone who knows.
But be prepared. Your ego may take a bruising.
Yes—the red ink hurts. During my early years in the newspaper and magazine business, editors tore my work apart.
But it made me the writer I am today. Without that scrutiny I don’t know where I’d be, but it wouldn’t be on any bestseller lists.
Expect to be heavily edited and learn to aggressively self-edit.
Take advantage of every opportunity to grow. Assume there is always room for improvement.
I am still learning and trying to sharpen my skills, after over 50 years in this game.
By Bryan Hutchinson
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