May 8, 2010 by Renee
For a long time I’ve been the type of person who waited for life to happen. I’d be angry, frustrated, and even depressed because nothing good ever seemed to happen to me. I’d wait, trying to be positive, and believing that eventually my turn would come. Life just kept kicking me in the ass though and I often thought that I was just unlucky. Nothing good would ever happen to me.
A couple of years ago, I picked up my passion for writing, dusted it off and made the decision that I would write to publish. I wrote a few things, asked a few questions, and then I started searching for a publisher. I waited. And waited. Strangely, nothing really happened. The publishers weren’t interested, my life remained the same and I wasn’t growing as a writer or a person.
Then a little over a year ago, I had an epiphany. I was dissatisfied with my writing, my relationships and my life in general. Things were just not happening for me and I slipped into a mini depression. I was a good person, I did things for others because I wanted to, not because I had to, and I was intelligent and sometimes even likeable. Why then, was my life so mediocre? It made no sense.
My epiphany came in the form of a story. I decided to write a novel about a subject that I was passionate about. I left behind my ‘chosen’ genre of horror and wrote from my heart. I found something amazing happened as I explored this new genre, as I asked questions and studied other writers who I admired and as I read more about the publishing industry and the craft of writing. I got excited. Then I asked myself why was I sitting here waiting for good things to come to me? Good Things didn’t know I was waiting. Hell, Good Things rarely paid any attention to you if you remained quiet and patient.
I tried a different approach, an active approach. I pursued my dream rather than waiting for it to materialize. I made a list of goals. I put time limits on them and I attacked them with all that I had. I wrote a lot. I edited a lot. I read, way more than a lot. I learned. Then, I made myself visible, very visible. I became active in writing groups, social groups, and shared my knowledge in exchange for their knowledge. I deleted my old website, a sorry excuse for a site if one wanted to be seen as a professional. I started a blog that related only to writing and publishing. I sought out agent and publisher blogs, blogs by authors I admired, and I continued to learn and grow.
Then I jumped in with both feet. If I wanted to be a writer, I had to convince the rest of the world that I was capable and determined to do this. I took a job as a freelance reporter. It’s only a small paper, but it allows me to publish (nice to have my name in print) and it teaches me some really important skills as a writer. Less is more. Indeed it is. This position has given me more confidence in my ability and recently I applied for an online freelance position, never really believing they would hire me, but figuring I had nothing to lose by trying. Guess what; I got the job. You are looking at the Toronto Publishing Examiner for Examiner.com. When I have my first article posted, I will share the link again. So, now two sources are paying me for my writing which is something that I never imagined would happen.
I still have my daycare (although I did downsize a bit), and I have to juggle kids, cleaning, and dogs with writing articles, assignments for the paper and my fiction writing. But I will make it work. I get up at 5am and often don’t lay my head on my pillow until well after 11pm. I am tired sometimes, cranky most of the time, but I am more excited and optimistic than I have ever been. I will not allow life to pass me by anymore.
The secret to getting what you want is not just positive thinking. You will only get what you want if you reach out and take it. You will rarely see real success unless you make it happen. So, writer friends, (and friends in general) I will leave you with a few tips on how to make things happen for you.
1. Get off your ass. Get active. Do not sit back from your safe little spot behind the keyboard and expect anyone to notice you. Actively seek out ways to do what it is you love to do.
2. Read and ask questions. As a writer the most important tool you have in your arsenal is other good writers. Read their work, study it as you would that manual on how to program the DVD player. Figure out what it is that makes their writing take your breath away. Learn what they’re doing right so that you can stop doing it wrong.
3. Find people you admire and study how they got to be so admirable. Not just other writers. Find people from all walks of life, all professions who are successful or who exhibit traits you’d like to have. Figure out how you can also use those traits, and how to make them work for your goals.
4. Refuse second best. Do not settle. Set at least one goal. Give yourself a realistic deadline. Make a schedule and follow it to the letter. Do not allow anything to make you modify that goal. You’ll stumble and you’ll find yourself facing obstacles and setbacks, but KEEP THE GOAL.
5. Embrace criticism and use it to improve. Criticism is a tool, and you have to use it as such. Don’t let it get you down, and don’t let it anger you. Use it. Why are they saying this? Why is it bothering you? Chances are if it angers you or upsets you, there is some truth to it.
6. Become visible. Network, network, network. Join groups and sites related to your passion. Writers join critique and writing communities. Become active on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Post your work on places like Scribd. Start a blog. It is never too early to begin making yourself visible and familiar to both readers and the industry.
7. Don’t give up. You’ll get tired, depressed, desperate and more. Do not quit. If you quit, you don’t deserve Good Things’ attention. Good Things does not come to those who wait. That is a myth.
I have my goals in place, and I am ahead of schedule. I know there will be a few bumps in the road, some setbacks and disappointments. Fate and life are great pranksters, but I know their little jokes are temporary. Now, I challenge you to take what you want from life. We’ll share margaritas and massages from muscled golden foreign boys on my island when it happens.