Be a Writer
It’s Encouragement Week here on my blog! I’m featuring posts from years past, each offering a little inspiration for your writing journey. I’ll be away from the blog to observe Holy Week, but I’ll be back next week with all-new posts. I hope you enjoy this series.
Many of you know that my kids and I love to watch American Idol together, and as it happens, it relates directly to my blog topic for today. (Is Idol ever an inappropriate topic for a writing blog? I think not.)
I received a query awhile back that contained the following line:
“I can’t give you a hook or a synopsis—I am a writer, not a promoter. You really do have to read the book to see what an exceptional story it is.”
Now, I know most of you would never consider writing something like that. But I know you probably sometimes FEEL that way—that you just want to write your book and it’s really unfair for people to ask you to write pitches and taglines and author bios other types of sales copy. “I’m a writer but I’m really bad at selling things or tooting my own horn,” you might think. “Don’t publishers hire people for that?”
Sorry to say, it’s time for some tough love. I want you to ask yourself: Are you a writer or not?
The contestants on Idol are put through their paces every week, required to perform songs from specific eras or songwriters or collections. They’re not allowed to simply sing what comes naturally to them. I didn’t hear any of them saying, “But I can’t stand theRolling Stones, I can’t do this!” No, they stepped up to the plate and did what was asked of them. Why? To prove they’re really SINGERS.
Everyone has a type of singing – or a type of writing – that they’re best at. It’s important they find that niche and specialize in it. But there are times when we are all asked to step outside our sweet spot and perform. We might not be great at it, but we have to do our best and avoid making excuses.
If you’re a writer, then there’s no sense in insisting that you’re only a “certain type” of writer. When those hackles go up and you’re frustrated with your 87th try at the pitch paragraph for your book, ask yourself: Am I a writer?
If you are, and if you are committed to it, then you’ll find the strength to let go of the frustration, and just be a writer.
It’s all about your commitment. Think about the other commitments you make in your life. You take on a job. You get married. You have children. You call yourself teacher or nurse or business owner or American Idol. You call yourself husband or wife, mom or dad.
Then one day things get hard. Not just run-of-the-mill hard, but really hard, and you find yourself wondering, “What did I get myself into?” You think, “I can’t do this!” Then you realize, I made a commitment. I said I would do it… I made a promise… I am committed… I need to make this work. I have to do it, no matter how hard it is. When things are tough, it’s the commitment that carries you through.
In writing, when you come up against a challenge—say to yourself, “I call myself a WRITER. I committed to this writing journey. If I’m a writer, I can do this.”
Twenty years ago I read a great quote. It was in a quasi-spiritual new-agey kind of book but the wisdom was incredible and it has always stuck with me. The quote was: Argue for your limitations, and they’re yours. If you want to insist on your own weaknesses or shortcomings (“I’m a novelist, not a marketing person”), sure enough, those weaknesses will define you.
I encourage you to avoid letting your limitations characterize you. When the writing gets tough, the tough keep writing. Be a writer! And don’t let anything stop you.
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent