Last week on the blog, we talked a lot about writing resolutions and writing goals. Goals are different for everyone, of course, and they can range from something as small as writing everyday to getting a piece or a book published. Getting published is a very big goal and it’s a great goal to have. But today I want to write about how the goal of publishing can sometimes be blinding.
During National Novel Writing Month, author Brandon Sanderson wrote a pep talk that contained some very good advice. In the pep talk, Sanderson said, “Don’t give up. Keep your eyes on the project you’re working on right now, and make it the best that it can be. More importantly, love that process. In the end, that’s what made me stand up and get back to work…the realization that I loved telling stories. No stack of unpublished novels, no matter how high, would change my enjoyment of this process—no more than a finished set of dives would make a scuba enthusiast feel discouraged about diving again.”
The thing I love most about this quote is that Sanderson mentions his stack of unpublished novels, and how that won’t stop him from loving the act of telling a story. I think this is a great mindset to have and it ties into what I want to discuss today. Sometimes, when people get the idea of publishing into their heads, that becomes the only thing they can think about in regard to writing and their writing projects. They obsess over rejection letters and give them too much weight in their lives. They withdraw from projects in the pursuit of simply sending out manuscripts or query letters. The publishing process becomes their whole world, and writing falls by the wayside.
Getting your work published is, of course, doable. But the ratio of people who write to people who are published is a bit lopsided. Looking at those figures can be discouraging and might stop you from even trying to get published. I hope that it doesn’t do that, because there’s never any shame in trying. What I hope this information does is simply give you a realistic worldview and help you get more into the mindset that Brandon Sanderson mentions in the quote above. If you only focus on being published and allow yourself to be discouraged by that whole process, you might stop writing altogether. And that’s the reason you’re here, I think: to write.
Basically, publishing is a fantastic goal to have, but it should not be why you’re writing. Ideally, you should be writing because you like writing. If you find that’s not the case, maybe you should stop writing or, at the very least, re-examine your thinking and maybe adjust your mindset. Make your new goal not caring about the rejection letters and instead caring about the project that you’re currently working on.
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan