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Are You in this for the Long Haul?

I have a lot of conversations with clients about their writing careers. Usually they say to me, “I want to be in this for the long haul.” It’s given me the opportunity to have some great discussions about what helps a writer accomplish this goal – and what can sabotage their efforts.

It’s an important topic for consideration, because sometimes we have to make difficult decisions on a day-to-day basis, and we don’t always know which way to go. But if we’re always looking at those decisions in light of the long haul, it’s easier to know what to do.

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This doesn’t just apply to writers, it can be a good way for anyone to look at their situation. I want to be in publishing for the duration, so I came up with a bunch of questions and answers to help me stay focused on a long-term approach to my work. I’ll share just a few of them:

 

What can I do to increase my chances of being in this for the long haul?

→ Establish and maintain a good reputation in the industry.
→ Keep a positive attitude despite the constantly changing and challenging business environment.
→ Always be looking ahead to new ways of doing business and new technologies, and be open to changing my business model as needed.

What would sabotage my ability to stay in it for the long haul?
→ Pay too much attention to critics, allowing them to discourage me.
→ Fail to learn from mistakes.
→ Treat people badly or disrespectfully.

As I’ve spoken with my clients about this topic, we’ve identified some things that could help them develop “long haul” writing careers:

→ Pay attention to where their passion and artistic integrity intersect with the market.
→ Keep refining their appeal to their readers by developing and maintaining a uniquely compelling voice.
→ Develop their ability to write page-turning books that readers can’t help talking about.
→ Keep a positive attitude about the business.
→ Be the kind of author agents and editors love to work with.
→ Be open to new technologies and new ways of getting your work out there to readers.

 

What are some things that can help YOU be in this for the long haul? What are some things that could sabotage your career?

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

95 Comments

  1. […] Success in writing is a marathon. Rachelle Gardner asks: are you in this for the long haul? […]



  2. […] Worth reading the full post. […]



  3. Maco Stewart on October 2, 2019 at 4:07 AM

    We’ve been discussing the importance of perseverance in my critique group. My approach, as I look for an agent, is to do my best to cultivate relationships beyond the arid unsolicited query, both to ensure the agent I’m approaching is someone with whom I want to work and to provide that agent with some measure of confidence in me.

    The best venue for that is a writers conference. Far back in second place, is developing an online dialogue. In the meantime, I keep working to improve the story I’m promoting. At some point, God willing, the quality of the story and the interest of a good agent will intersect. If not, back to the sequel. I’ve seen too many of my friends turn, enchanted, toward the siren song of Self-Publish Now! after some minor setbacks.



  4. Madison Johns on April 29, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Many good points being made here. I do think you should pay less attention to naysayer and more on the people that actually interact with you on whatever medium it is. Leave yourself open to all the publishing avenues available these days.

    I have done just about as much market research as I have done writing, It’s important to write what you love of course, but you also need to be aware of what people like also. I found that senior sleuths are not marketable to agents or publishers, for that reason I have decided to self publish. Yet, the baby boomers are a very big group of the reading population. I predict this will change in the future. Sometimes you can be a bit before your time.

    You would not be in it for the long haul if you don’t have at least three other stories ready to begin. It’s also very normal to tell yourself you’ll never write another book. We all say that at some point. Real writers will never settle for that though. I’m already thinking about the next book. God wiling a great editor will present him or herself when the time is right or if and when my book generates enough sales to allow for it.

    I wish you all good luck and never give up. Keep positive and surround yourself with positive people, and please smile everyday. At least that’s what help me. I have found a great group of people that look forward to my happy good mornings everyday.



  5. Nikole Hahn on April 24, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Impatience. Writing is something that will grow you. Impatience stunts growth and makes your writing forgettable.



  6. Industry News 22 April 2012 » RWA-WF on April 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    […] and the controversies in publishing can cause us to question our purpose as writers sometimes. Are you in this business for the long haul? Agent Rachelle Gardner has some […]



  7. […] Are you in this for the long haul? (Rachelle Gardner) — Advice for writers who want to keep writing . . . but also so applicable for anyone who’s into their own craft for the long haul. […]



  8. MBA essay writing on April 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Y0u give me many meaningful story,thanks so much



  9. Peter DeHaan on April 17, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Like many others, I would add a support group and prayer to the list — or perhaps it should be a support prayer group. That is the only way I finished my dissertation!



  10. Janet on April 17, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    I recently took a huge leap of faith by announcing my decision to take an early retirement so I can focus full-time on my writing career. The only thing that threatens my intention to be in it for the long haul are the occassional moments when my fear of financial insecurity twangs and I get that anxious feeling in my stomach that I may have made a bad decision.

    How do I overcome that? I remind myself that if I can’t support myself with my writing I can always get a new day job. The idea of flipping burgers at a fast food joint for a living can be highly motivational.



  11. […] Rachelle Gardner on Are You in this for the Long Haul? […]



  12. Joseph Jerome on April 16, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    The long haul is never completed in a day. Most day however, we can do something to get us there.



  13. Gwen Stewart on April 16, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    When the long haul feels like the long maul, keep going. Maybe the breakthrough is coming. Maybe not. But at least you won’t litter your life with cast-aside dreams…because you were afraid to fail.



    • Janet on April 17, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      Gwen, the flip side of that is fear of success. There were many years when that fear held me back as much as any other. I’ve finally reached a point where success or failure don’t matter that much to me anymore. I’m a writer. If I don’t write, I’m not being true to myself.



  14. Leigh Covington on April 16, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    I love this. Wonderful tips and good for all of us to know. I agree – they can work for other aspects of our life too. 🙂



  15. marion on April 16, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”=time and effort=the long haul.



  16. Lisa Jordan on April 16, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Having realistic expectations helps me to stay focused on the long haul. I would love to quit the day job to become a fulltime writer, but since I’m the primary breadwinner, that’s not realistic. However, I can consider my schedule and plan books according to what I can write. Little by little I’m moving closer toward that goal of becoming a fulltime writer.



  17. Sarah on April 16, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Rachelle, found this post via Twitter, and it’s just fantastic encouragement. Thank you for this!



  18. Becky Doughty on April 16, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Michelle DeRusha beat me to the punch. My husband has been sooo instrumental in helping me stick with it for the long haul. He totally believes in me… and actually likes me a lot better when I’m writing.

    BUT, I had to earn his trust and respect and support. I couldn’t just say “Honey, I’m going to write books. It could take years and I may never make a dime… that cool with you?” No, I had to convince him first over the long haul of my commitment to the craft. Now he’s my biggest fan because he can see that I’m willing to put the effort in.

    In a way, I had to “build my platform” at home first, and that has been good preparation for me sticking with building a platform in the industry now. It’s going slowly and I often feel overwhelmed… but I won over my hard-sell husband who now believes in me enough to support me while I write, and he reminds me of that on a regular basis.

    I can’t give up – I have the best man in the world fighting my battles with me (NOT for me). I’m grateful and honored and accountable to him, knowing how much he’s sacrificing so that I can write.

    I’m also, and even more so, accountable to God who has completely transformed my writing for Him.

    Great post – great question – great challenge for all of us in the industry.



  19. Brandi M Lynch on April 16, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Whenever my doubts start to creep in, I read author blogs about their experiences. It helps to read about their struggles and know I’m not alone. No matter what happens, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing. I have to get the ideas out somehow, and I have a few people who nudge me from time to time.

    Also, one thing I learned from my writing classes was to be flexible. I’m not saying that I’d agree with whatever people told me to change, but I wouldn’t automatically balk at the idea. I want to put my best story forward, and I know that sometimes I don’t see the gaps or confusing places. To realize that the story unfolding in your head may not exactly fit what’s on the paper/screen, I think, is a major step in hanging on for the long haul.



  20. Yvonne Kochanowski on April 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    For me, it’s sticking to the kind of book I want to write, not being swayed by someone saying they ‘really prefer…’ (pick the subgenre). The other part of being in it for the long haul is setting goals and deadlines for myself, and then sticking to them! It’s easy to feel a sense of relief that the writing is done and then forget to promote yourself on the commercial side, or get too bogged down in the marketing and forget to think about the editing. It’s a balancing act!



  21. Sharla Fritz on April 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    I agree with Julie’s comment about burnout. I sent out my manuscript for my second book a couple of weeks ago and am feeling depleted after a frenzied writing time.

    I’m also feeling somewhat at a loss of what my next step is. I am going to use Rachelle’s advice of trying to discover where my passion intersects with the market.



  22. Patricia Zick on April 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    It’s the vision I’ve always had of myself even before I said those magical words, “I’m a writer.” I still see that vision: I’m sitting in front of a manual typewriter, with a cigarette dangling out one side of my mouth and a glass of whiskey at my side. Despite the reality (I type 80 wpm so a manual typewriter is out; smoking went the way of the 1980s; who can really write when drunk?), I still hold that vision. I’m grateful every day, I’ve been given the opportunity to write full time. I’m taking full advantage of it while I can. Happy writing and reading all!



  23. Dale S. Rogers on April 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    I should continue to hone my craft, and stay
    on top of happenings in the business and
    the world.

    To lose interest or give up would be a way
    to sabotage my career.



  24. Laura Diane on April 16, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    For me, it’s about remaining true to my vision. That requires going back and asking myself a few key questions at least once a week:
    1) Do I still love what I’m doing or have I stepped off-track?
    2) Am I communicating effectively?
    3) What is the ratio of time spent marketing/social media/writer connections to actual time writing and has it gotten out of balance? (Every person will have t heir own ratio that fits their comfort level.
    4) Am I moving forward or sitting in a state of stasis? Being static can lead to great insights, but again, if it’s not contributing to your goals then figure out why.
    5) What has inspired me within the past week and is it something I should write about?



  25. Brent Stratford on April 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Write. Revise. Revise. Revise. Get critiques. Repeat as necessary.

    I imagine tenacity is key.

    Tenacity I have. What I don’t have is the natural ability to build and maintain relationships. Other than my wife (20 years and going), I find I run out of things to say and topics to cover. I love the recommendations on this post about gratitude and being easy to work with. I think beyond that I need to recognize and foster valuable relationships. Then I need to maintain them.



  26. Michelle DeRusha on April 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I was at this very crossroads just a couple of months ago, when my husband and I had a heart-to-heart talk about whether I was going to forge ahead with making a life out of writing. What he helped me realize is that I would be completely lost and umoored without the writing – it’s become an absolutely integral and essential part of my life. It’s my ambition, yes, but it’s also my passion, and realizing that sealed the deal: I’m in it for the long haul.



    • Jennifer Major on April 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      What a great guy! Mine is like that too.



  27. Rita Arens on April 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Ambition. I know a lot of amazing writers who just don’t stick with it, because it’s so horrible to work so hard and face so much uncertainty and rejection. My friends and family think I am insane to persevere despite all that’s happened to me. I don’t think I’m capable of giving it up — I’m just hardwired to doggedly pursue my writerly goals until I die in harness.



  28. Kristin Laughtin on April 16, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    The reason I haven’t started querying yet, although I have a book that I feel has a reasonable shot of being sold, is BECAUSE I want to be in this for the long haul. I want to build my skill enough to be satisfied that book isn’t a fluke, and that I’ll be able to reliably write decent books within reasonable schedules. If I deliver a great first book but can’t keep up the quality and pace of subsequent books, that will be really damaging to my career.



  29. Christine Dorman on April 16, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    The important thing for me is remembering that I am a writer, no matter what reviews I get, no matter how anyone else sees me. Writing is a part of my soul’s makeup. God has given me a gift and it’s given to share. So I keep writing. I doubt I’ll become rich. Possibly my writing will never be well-known, but as long as it has touched some people and benefited them in someway, that’s what matters to me.

    When I focus on my dreams, my goals, my agenda and my ego, that’s when I get derailed.

    One last thing, the main thing that keeps me writing is that it’s FUN…some of the time.



  30. Jill on April 16, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Although I’m not necessarily a positive thinker, I’m a hard worker and haven’t yet given up. And I enjoy critiques of my work. Tenacity and being tough are important, I think. I make mistakes and am largely a pessimist, but I try to keep a balanced perspective and maintain a small measure of hope–just not a lot of expectation. And when I say something stupid or snarky, I apologize if appropriate. I live off prayer. Given the multitude of personality types out there, this is they way my type survives.



  31. Rachelle Christensen on April 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    I want to be in this for the long haul. For me the most important cog in my wheel is to enjoy the journey. If I love what I’m doing, I’ll continue to be successful, so I have to stay true to myself and never compromise my integrity just for the sake of a sale.



  32. Jaime Wright Sundsmo on April 16, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    I want to be like Elasti-Girl in the Incredibles. Stretchable but not snapping. For me, being in it for the “long haul” is being flexible. Preconceived ideas set unrealistic expectations. Just continuing to move forward, learn from others, and bounce back is so important to me.

    And, once again, Julie Jarnigan says what I was thinking in regards to sabotage. Probably why we get along so well, huh, Julie?? 🙂



  33. Sharmon on April 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Yes. My mother-in-law, whom I and we, loved dearly shocked our family dreadfully as she passed in her sleep the night of her 68th Birthday Saturday night.

    We were not and are not prepared to let go.

    LIFE IS PRECIOUS. I AM MORE MOTIVATED NOW THAN EVER TO SPEND EVERYDAY TO THE FULLEST.

    Long haul? What else is there?



    • Christine Dorman on April 16, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Sharmon,

      God bless you. You and your family are in my prayers.
      Christine



  34. Julie Jarnagin on April 16, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    I think burnout could sabotage a long career. We have to be realistic about what we can do. If we over commit, our work suffers and we can damage valuable relationships.



  35. Jeanne T on April 16, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Such a great post. A couple of things that will help me stay in for the long haul are 1) having a humble, teachable spirit. I know I have a lot to learn about writing craft, business, mindset. Staying open to accept the wisdom of those I trust who have gone before me will help me. 2) Connecting with other writers who “get me,” and this writing life. 🙂

    I think the biggest thing that could sabotage me would be perfectionism. That and placing unrealistic expectations on myself. Working on both of these this morning.



  36. Joan Cimyotte on April 16, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    I can see how easy it is to just let it go; I tried. I didn’t get anywhere. I must be a terrible writer. Who would ever want to read anything I write?

    Writing for me is just like my paintings. People like my paintings but only every so often does anyone shell out money for them. I paint anyway.

    I keep writing.



  37. Cherry Odelberg on April 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    The big saboteur? The cares of this life. Day to day survival.
    I must be in it for the long haul because I keep returning, year after year, for 30 some years; yet, there are interruptions – fires to put out, bills to pay.

    The positive comments and helpful hints – particularly on this blog – reassure me that I am not alone. There is a support system out there. I am grateful.



  38. TC Avey on April 16, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Keeping my eyes on Christ. He is the author and finisher of my race. Like Peter walking on water, I have to keep my eyes on Him and not the storms.
    When I center my life on Him, being the kind of author people respect will come a naturally.



  39. Stephen H. King on April 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Great post! When you say “pay too much attention to critics” you’re dead on with a primary challenge many new authors face. It’s important to remember that for most of us, our toughest critic is inside. Not in terms of writing skill, unfortunately; I’ve learned from talking with and reading from some of the best that there’s just no way to really judge the quality of our own work. In all other ways, though, I, at least, hold myself to higher expectations than I probably should.

    Recent example: I received a 4/5 review from a trusted acquaintance who said some very positive things about my second novel. She also, though, mentioned that there were some actions in it that didn’t follow from previous conversations. Instead of celebrating the good, I found myself mulling over the “but…” comment. Then, this weekend, sitting through sessions like “What Harry Potter got Right” at a conference, I was reminded of the mulling as well as the associated fear/knowledge I’m not that good yet, and may never be.

    Self-doubt and self-criticism, then, are some of a writer’s worst enemies when getting to the long haul is the goal.



  40. Josh C. on April 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Thick Skin. Each “no” stings (and I just got yet another this morning) but it doesn’t hurt quite as much as it used to.

    I think an attitude of entitlement would derail a career fast. Just because I write something doesn’t mean I deserve to be published.



  41. Lori Potter on April 16, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Everyone has such excellent advice in this thread! I think I’ll add to this the importance of developing one’s stamina by creating a consistent schedule and sticking to it. Self discipline is often a challenge to get things going in the right direction, but it’s so beneficial once it’s habitual and it keeps us moving forward. *And I’m talking to me about this issue, first and foremost.*



    • Rachelle Gardner on April 16, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Yes, a schedule is so important! As is discipline.



  42. Daphne Delay on April 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Consistency.

    I have been faithful to write my blogs or devotionals every week since May 2006. This “habit” of writing and putting my stuff out there has been the best thing I could have ever done. Over time, my writing improved (with practice comes perfection) and my consistency landed my name and website at the top of Google which helped me unknowingly build a platform.

    I know others who have tried and stopped for awhile…then picked it back up only to repeat the process. This has sabotaged their goals. So without a doubt, consistency is key!



  43. Ann Bracken on April 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    What sabotages me? Being overwhelmed with how much there is to learn: social media, marketing, manuscript formatting, writing effective queries, developing voice, characters, scenes and dialogue, etc. I have to remember it’s all part of what I’m trying to accomplish.

    What’s encouraging? Friends who believe in me, the amazing people I’ve met, and that still, small voice that whispers to keep going when I’m on my knees.



  44. Sarah Thomas on April 16, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    OVer the long haul I think it’s really important to make writing a habit–part of my daily world. Why am I writing today? Because I write just about every day.

    The other side to that coin is that writing isn’t everything. If it’s what I did or focused on all day, every day I’d burn out fast.



  45. gabe on April 16, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    To be in this for the long haul I need $$$ and time. Therefore, I need an undemanding job that pays the bills. (For some, that might be the spouse – my world didn’t work out that way.)



  46. Connie Almony on April 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I love that statement, “Pay attention to where their passion and artistic integrity intersect with the market.” It’s why I read this blog. The acknowledgement of that intersection. To tell writers they can write about anything and make it a career would be dishonest. To make it solely about what appeals to the market can stifle creativity, passion and voice. To work to seek the intersection is where dreams become realities. Thanks for throwing that in there.
    What could sabotage a career? I just read Michael Hyatt’s blog today about How to Build Trust. I great way to sabotage a career (in case someone is so inclined) is to NOT mean what you say and say what you mean. If people don’t trust you, they don’t want to work with you. But that goes along with “Be the kind of writer agents and editors love to work with.”



  47. Wendy Paine Miller on April 16, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Sometimes it amazes me how much of an optimist I can be. That has to be a God thing. What helps me is refusing to give up, surrounding myself with positive, encouraging people, reminding myself why I’m in this when needed, and regularly looking for ways to reach out and uplift others in the industry (taking the focus off myself). I also believe kindness is imperative in this business (in any business). Knowing my priorities, staying true to my voice, and remembering to “live” are long haul motivators as well.

    As far as sabotaging: Limited outlook, critical spirit, spouting off cheap shots, letting discouragement take root, getting lost with priorities and becoming a time waster, not writing (or editing)…

    And now back to the good…Long haul thinkers are grateful people. They don’t have a sense of entitlement, but are constantly thinking of what they’re thankful for.

    Can you tell I’ve given this some thought?
    ~ Wendy



    • Sue Harrison on April 16, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      Wendy, I love your twin ideas of positive thinking and gratitude – so important to doing anything long-term. I’ve also found that reaching out to other writers is important – difficult for me. Put me in front of a crowd and I’m animation incorporated, but one-on-one, a whole different story. Those connections, though, are so important during discouraging times in a career, and it’s also great fun to share the elation of good times. By increasing our contacts, we also increase the times that God speaks to us though others. A double support system!



      • Wendy Paine Miller on April 16, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        Such a valid point, Sue. And animation incorporated–hope I get to see that someday!



    • Jennifer Major on April 16, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      “Long haul thinkers are grateful people. They don’t have a sense of entitlement, but are constantly thinking of what they’re thankful for.”

      Excellent point!! Entitlement is the enemy of hard work and perseverance.



  48. Jennifer Major on April 16, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    I want to learn as much as I can. I want to have bearing of a professional, which is a challenge for a SAHM. I have an friend at church who is a fairly well known big wig in her field. We may yet play Higgins and Doolittle so I don’t go all “you got indoor plumbing?” when I need to project an air of confidence. I want to understand the intricacies of the market. And I want to find a photographer for my cover shot who can make me look like a 35 year old Amazon. With both arms.



    • P. J. Casselman on April 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      Repeat after me. A cup of tea… The market really is a lot more complex than we thought, eh? I didn’t ask about the plumbing at first and now wish I had. Unfortunately, I left a few spots on the rug.



  49. lindi P on April 16, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    For me–always being willing to learn. Keeping that teachable spirit is key. Building relationships is important as well. I try to remember to be appreciative of this gift–and never underestimate what God has in store.

    Nice post.



  50. Kathryn Albright on April 16, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    A timely post! Some things that could help me? Re-doing my business plan and sticking to it…joining toastmasters so that I am more comfortable giving presentations.

    Something that could sabotage me? First and foremost, not being in the center of God’s Will. Second–not writing.

    Thanks for the nudge…



    • Jennifer Major on April 16, 2012 at 8:28 AM

      Amen. My big thing right now is to constantly ask “Is this your will?”.



  51. Lyn Fairchild Hawks on April 16, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    Hi, Rachelle,

    Your point of “Pay attention to where their passion and artistic integrity intersect with the market” really hit me because that’s the first phase of my long-haul journey. My agent has requested I start over after trying three other revisions, and so as we get near the end of the first year together, I’m working off a new outline while trying to keep the best of my character’s voice as well as the subjects that first gripped me to write the story.

    We have conversations about what young adults will and won’t read and so things that are dropping away include too many scenes with adults; too many academic references; too much stuff in the character’s head and not enough action. The goal is to create a page turner to satisfy 16 year-old girls without losing my protagonist’s personality and pain. Each time my ms has been critiqued, I’ve asked myself whether I can live with the cuts…whether my gut approves. After time it does. I have to write something that sells because it does things right. Very hard, but worth the journey. Long haul it is!

    Lyn



    • Maggie Lyons on April 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Lyn, I so agree with you about the emotional challenges of trying to work with agents – or in my case, editors – who want you to make what appear to be life-threatening revisions. My editors’ recommendations conflicted so often with my own ideas that I began to dread the next round of revisions as much as surgery without anesthesia. I swore I’d never write another book. It was especially hard because I’m a new author and earn my living as an editor. I realized that I’d have to make myself stand back, put emotion aside, and adopt a far more objective position. As a result, I realized my editor was offering valuable advice about the craft of writing, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as the craft of editorial style. I can open the manuscript after my editor’s latest round of honing without having to take deep breaths and put my head between my knees and I’m no longer convinced I won’t write another book.



      • Lyn Fairchild Hawks on April 16, 2012 at 7:14 PM

        Maggie, thanks for sharing your experience. “Surgery without anesthesia”–that’s exactly what it feels like! But time heals all wounds, right? I now see my ms with different eyes and a plot that needed life support…I just wasn’t ready to face that yet.

        Lyn



  52. Karen on April 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Being in the long haul means following your passion and never giving up. Dreams without goals are just dreams. Setting goals, making deadlines, adding accountability = SUCCESS.



  53. TNeal on April 16, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    I think building relationships with other writers helps you stay the long-haul course. Discouragement comes to us all but having relationships with others who’ve walked this same road allows their experiences to guide you through the rough patches.

    I want to reiterate your “establish a good reputation” statement, Rachelle. Saturday I had my 1st book signing at a local restaurant. It went very well and I received a great deal of encouragement. Because my reputation in town is solid, I enjoyed a harvest of goodwill. Others make such a difference in how well we do as authors. I knew that before Saturday but I’ve now seen it with my own eyes.



    • Rachelle Gardner on April 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Relationships with other writers are key – thanks for pointing that out.



  54. Otin on April 16, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Some very good points about how not to sabotage your career by letting critics get to you and not learning from mistakes.



  55. carol brill on April 16, 2012 at 7:04 AM

    The support of other writers, their generous critique, reading great novels and recognizing that learning the craft of writing is a journey help me keep writing.

    Time for the business side of writing, self-promotion, marketing, social networking are my potential saboteurs



  56. William on April 16, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    There’s nothing else I’d rather do. Does that count? 🙂

    When agents or publishers say here’s a dime, call me when you grow up, that doesn’t faze me. Neither does criticism–that only serves as a hurdle made plain. Silence can be discouraging, because you know something you did didn’t cut it, but you don’t know what. But even then, it comes down to the question: well, what else will you do?



  57. Mercey Valley on April 16, 2012 at 5:25 AM

    Keeping a perseverant spirit and having goals (with timeline if possible), rolling with the punches and determining I WILL GROW AT THIS (even if it kills me… or leaves me half dead).

    The ground keeps changing so it’s important to do the best to keep up.



  58. P. J. Casselman on April 16, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    I recently re-read Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” When I applied his principals to writing, they really inspired me to reformulate my approach to a writing career.

    Habit 1: Be Proactive – Create a social media presence and be disciplined in writing.
    Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind- Know what kind of author I truly want to be.
    Habit 3: Put First Things First- Prioritize my life so writing is a fountain and not a daily ditch to be dug.
    Habit 4: Think Win/Win- Focus on giving the reader something they need and be aware of the restraints and needs of agents and publishing companies.
    Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood- Know the market instead of whining about how it doesn’t get me.
    Habit 6: Synergize- Constantly look for ways to improve my writing as I put pen to paper.



    • Jennifer Major on April 16, 2012 at 9:05 AM

      I think another thing we could all benefit from is to listen to what people are saying, how they say it, and what it is that they are truly trying to communicate. SO much can be learned from the turn of a phrase or an idiom that has yet to be heard. Like the blatant difference between “hearing” and “listening”. Listening to a conversation, while it is prying to some extent, can open a window or door to a character or scene that has been difficult to shape properly. Like turning a radio dial, one never knows what is out there. If we are to write, then we must first hear and listen.



      • P. J. Casselman on April 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM

        Thanks for the seventh Jennifer! I should never reply when I’m sleepy! (smacks forehead.) Good point on nuances. They really make a difference. 🙂



    • Jennifer Major on April 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      There’s your 7th….:)



    • Jeanne T on April 16, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      Great thoughts! Pondering these today.



    • Jillian Kent on April 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      P.J.
      Great minds think alike.:) I just got The Seven Habits out of the library again to review what I’m doing right and what needs tweaking. I also listen to the 8th habit while I’m driving. However, I’m a true believer in spiritual gifts and am trying to discern which of my gifts are most powerful and how to utilize those gifts for the long haul.

      The thing I have to be on guard about are the lies that the devil whispers in my ear, like, not good enough, not fast enough, just plain not enough.



      • P. J. Casselman on April 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        He’s definitely the author of deception. Isn’t it great to know that everything you have is a gift? Our talents were given to you us by God, who is also the author of our calling. He knew what He was doing when He put the two together in each of us. Our responsibility is not to decide how good we are, but how faithful we’ll be to use the gifts to fulfill our calling. He gives the increase.
        Never let Satan rob you. God gave you everything you need. Woot woot!



        • Jillian Kent on April 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM

          Woot! Woot! Indeed! I love that P.J. Thanks. I good thing to remember when the whispering begins.

          Gratefully,
          Jill



    • Derek Thompson on May 10, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      I love it! And what’s great about Covey’s work is that it’s based on character development, and not personality.



  59. Beth K. Vogt on April 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    Relationships with other writers & other industry professionals — those are/will be crucial in helping me stick it out for the long haul. I know I don’t know it all and I love it when others share their knowledge with me and help me become a better writer. And if I can do the same for someone else, all the better.
    And, oh, yeah … why am I hearing Dory from “Finding Nemo”? “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming …”
    Sometimes I have to focus on keeping my head above water, knowing that’s all I may accomplish today. Tomorrow it’ll be easier.



    • Gabrielle Meyer on April 16, 2012 at 2:27 AM

      Beth, I agree that relationships in the industry are very important. I’ve found that a support network is vital for me – in mothering, in homeschooling, in marriage and now in writing. People who understand who I am and what I do and people who can teach and guide me are priceless in my life.



    • P. J. Casselman on April 16, 2012 at 3:46 AM

      Great words: Keep swimming! Based on your blog, I think you’re a good writer. If you keep swimming, you’ll get there IMHO.
      Two things are guiding me in writing my current book- 1. They don’t just want a good book, they want what’s “hot.”
      2. Be sure your book can be summarized in one eye grabbing sentence.
      Maybe those will help in your swim. They got my attention. 🙂



  60. Lindsay Harrel on April 16, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    Ah, what a timely post. I’ve been receiving feedback from some beta readers on my first story, and it has been quite the experience. For the most part, the feedback is positive. But then, I start to get discouraged when I realize that some parts of the story might not make sense. I feel embarrassed. My desire for perfection means my pride is hurt when I realize there are things I can do better.

    But the key in all of this is to not give up. To keep going. To be determined to improve, always. To keep going despite any embarrassment I feel or despite my pride being hurt.



    • Rachelle Gardner on April 16, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      “To keep going despite any embarrassment I feel or despite my pride being hurt.” Brilliant. We can all use this advice!



  61. Anne Martin Fletcher on April 16, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Interesting, I was planning to call next week to ask you about an issue getting in the way of my passion–where do I focus my social media time? I don’t think the social media platform (I mean technology, not number of followers) is the problem, but figuring out where that intersection is between the market and my passion/artistry.

    When I know who to focus on, then all I have to do is invest my time on their networks, preferred social media, and preferred print or other media. Or is this too limiting?



    • Helen W. Mallon on April 16, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Ann, This is a VERY good question. Rachelle, I’d love it if you felt moved to do a post (or 10) on social media. Sometimes I feel that what I do “in the interest of contributing to the writing community and building my career” actually devolves into something resembling a Jr. high popularity contest. Plus it’s eating into my time spent, imagine, reading actual books!



    • Rachelle Gardner on April 16, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      Anne, you have the right idea. I think it’s exactly what you should do. It’s not too limiting — we can all only do “so” much so we need to focus as best we can on our target audience.



  62. Gabrielle Meyer on April 16, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Being consistent, in my work, in my attitude, in my focus and in my voice. Knowing who I am as a writer and as a person and knowing why I choose to pursue this dream. If I stay consistent, than I can be trusted and respected. I think consistency is key to staying in this business for the long haul.



  63. Melissa K. Norris on April 16, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Being in it for the long haul, means remembering why you wanted to write in the first place. Did you feel called, did you write because you simply couldn’t not pen a story? When I remember my passion, then I know I can make it.



    • Joseph Jerome on April 16, 2012 at 11:54 PM

      Melissa-I agree about the passion fruit, even in the face of stifling mediocrity when the words just droop and die on the page. I tend to skip writing on those days because…well, because it’s not fun. But passion for writing can extend into the those dayd when you just don’t feel like it.



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