Blogger: Mary Keeley
Last Friday’s blog was about setting writing goals for 2013 and how to achieve them. I was pleased to read how many of you have already begun to think about writing goals for next year, even contributing methods that are working for you. On the same topic there are personal preparations to make that will aid your success in 2013.
Set your own pace and be comfortable with it. Be realistic about the demands of your real life and build in time allowance for the unexpected. Children get sick, neighbors suffer loss, or aging parents suddenly need our assistance. As you may know, our agency experienced several personal “disruptions” from the norm this year, some painful and one a celebration of new life. We don’t know what God has planned for us. We need to allow time to be his vessels for his purposes.
Make provisions for personal growth. It’s difficult enough to squeeze in time for writing among your busy day-to-day obligations. You may be thinking you’ll save personal growth for later on, when life isn’t so busy. But you need to ask yourself, what are the chances life will slow down any time soon? And you may wonder, what’s so vital about personal growth anyway? Isn’t it enough to focus on my WIP, building my platform, networking with other authors, commenting on agent blogs so they recognize my name when I submit to them? Phew!
My response to you is this:
If you don’t stay current with what is going on around the world, in our country, and in your neighborhood and schools, how can you be certain your story and characters, or the slant on your nonfiction topic will connect with readers? People are being affected by groups, legislation, and popular culture, not all of it in positive ways. If a goal of your writing is to influence readers redemptively, you need to have an understanding of the larger issues affecting their lives. And those issues continually change.
Prepare for personal growth in speaking and professional appearance. Ask yourself if you were to have a book published in 2013, would you have the self-confidence, professional poise, and appearance to project yourself as a successful author in vlogs, YouTube videos, personal appearances, book signings and readings, or teaching a workshop at a writers conference? Would you be able to articulate in clear, engaging ways—on a number of topics—in radio interviews? If this is an area of weakness, now is the time to prepare yourself for your success by reading a book on speaking or taking a class and record yourself as you practice. Seek fashion and makeup advice to enhance your professional look. This may sound vain, but I assure you, it isn’t. I remember my mother’s advice: “Always put your best foot forward.” Sound familiar?
Be realistic about your skills and craft. As many times as we’ve preached on this blog, “Do not submit your proposal or manuscript until it is publication-ready,” I often receive proposals that are obviously rushed through, incomplete, and poorly written. These writers are doing themselves a disservice. If they only knew how it hurts their chances and frustrates agents and editors.
I apologize if any of the following sounds redundant to some of you, but for those who are brand new to the competitive, changeable, sometimes strange, exciting realm of book publishing, set these as your primary personal goals for 2013:
- Join a good critique group where you’ll receive support, critiques, and editorial advice.
- Educate yourself by reading books on writing, studying publisher and agency websites, subscribing to writer and industry blogs, and attending at least one writers conference.
- Practice blogging. The more you blog the clearer your unique voice will become. Practice your voice in writing your current manuscript.
If your current pace of life and writing isn’t working, how do you plan to adjust it for 2013? In what personal growth areas do you see the need to make provisions?