work signYou’ll often hear that writing and speaking go hand-in-hand, and I can assure you, that is a true statement. So, even though this is a speaker’s training blog, today I want to change gears and address the topic of writing.

I received an email a few years ago from an unpublished writer. She wanted to know how to get her book published. At least that’s what she said she wanted. But as I read her note, I realized the specifics of her request told an entirely different story.

She started out by telling me about the book she’d written. She knew it was a good book and was sure to be published “If only someone would take the time to really look at it.”

She talked about how she hated her job and just knew she was called to be a writer. She was contemplating quitting the hated job in order to be free to do the job she would love.

All she needed was someone to publish her book.

I responded as I usually do, with encouragement to join a critique group, go to writers conferences, and sign up for free writing instruction, like The Christian Writer’s Den and The Write Conversation blogs. I suggested she hang out with other writers online and in person. I recommended books I’d found helpful in my journey.

It wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“Yea…yea…yea…” she wrote back. (Well, those weren’t her exact words, but I can tell you for a fact, that’s what she meant!) She said that since she’d already finished the book, she didn’t feel she really needed those things, even though she’d never attended a writer’s conference or taken a class. Instead, what she wanted from me was just a list of publishers who would want to publish her book. When I asked if she knew about the Writer’s Market Guide, she said she did. But since it was so big and since there were so many companies and since I knew “all about publishing,” couldn’t I just send her a list of the people who would be interested in her kind of book?

Deep breath…

A few years ago, that could have been me. I could have easily written the same exact letter when I started on my writing journey. I was pathetic. I wanted to know the shortcuts, the secret tricks of the trade, the right combination to get the job done…and done quickly! I mean, who has the time–or the money–to take classes and search markets and learn the silly rules of POV?

If you’ve ever been to a writer’s conference where I’ve served on faculty, chances are you’ve heard me confess some of my early mistakes. I’ve even written about some of them, which you can read about here and here. But for now, I’ll just say that because I searched for shortcuts and secrets and combinations…because I just didn’t have time to do things the way they were supposed to be done…I DASHED to publication in a mere seven years and 63 rejections!

So, in order to save you time and money, I’ve listed the secrets to publication here (secret handshake and all!):

  • There are no shortcuts.
  • Writing for publication is usually very different from writing in high school and college.
  • Becoming a writer is like any other career–you have to learn how to do the job, and learn to do it well.
  • You must study the market.
  • It takes an investment of time and money (conferences, books, educational opportunities).
  • The return on that investment is often slow.
  • Never stop learning.
  • And when you think you’ve learned everything you need to know…it’s at that very moment that you prove you haven’t!

I’m still learning. I read everything I can get my hands on. I’m part of a critique group. I go to conferences and take classes. And I’ll be doing all those things as long as I’m a writer. Maybe longer.

So, forget the handshake, forget the shortcuts, forget the secret code. Just go ahead and put on your big girl britches and get to work.

Because if you want to be a published writer, WORK is what it takes.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Habakkuk 2:2

And if you’re looking for a challenge to help you write your book, I hope you’ll check out my MoGo7000 Challenge at my website. You could write your book AND be in the running to win $100 this year! And it’s all free. 🙂

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,