Friday, October 5, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Jumping In!

Each month we host a get-together for a small group of artists in our home. Last month we happened to land upon the topic of how important it is to just "jump in" as an artist.

Since that meeting I've mused about what jumping in has meant to me as a writer. For every creative (professional) endeavor, one must have a great working knowledge of the craft. But, might it be possible to get so caught up in the rules that a writer fails to ever just jump in?

I believe so.

It's much easier to continue to study one's craft, than to ever just jump in. Fear is an obstacle that must be overcome before we can ever grow into our potential. On the flip side, impatience can sometimes be a writer's obstacle. If she doesn't want to take the time necessary to learn her craft, she might jump in prematurely, setting her career back.

I've been both impatient and fearful at different times along my journey.

How does one determine if it's time to jump in? Each writer must answer that question for herself. A  storyteller's journey is as unique as each writer. A good rule: Be professional every step along the way.

Jumping in was the key to my progress. After taking two college writing courses from an excellent author, I decided that no matter what, I, too, was going to be a published author. I began making choices like a published author. Here is a list of some of my choices:

* I set aside writing time that was non-negotiable
* I began attending as many writer events as possible
* I read loads of books on the craft of writing
* I began blogging regularly
* I began networking on social media sites regularly
* I have friendships with other writers
* I had a professional website created
* I purchased business cards
* I hired a professional editor
* I regularly attend a writers' critique group
* I send out quarterly newsletters
* I ultimately independently published three books
* I've had my own book signing events.

For me, I came to a "brick wall" and felt that to continue learning, I needed to keep moving forward. But to move forward, the next step was to publish my book independently. So, I jumped in.

When I jumped in, I was quickly overwhelmed. However, I also soon learned how to swim the waters of the publishing industry. Acquiring book formatting/a book cover/ISBN numbers, communicating with a major printing company, and scheduling book events, are just a few of the experiences that I am now confident I can do. (Also, since I'm an introvert, I believe that having my own book events was invaluable to my growth as an author.) Along the way, I also "learned the lingo" of the KidLit world. (Like all professions, we have our own language!)

The reason I say all this is that many of the *items in the list above are things that some writers would be afraid to do - like maintaining a website. I've heard so many writers say, "I've never had a book published. Why do I need a website?" (At least you need to obtain a domain name.) When you have your first book published, learning to navigate a website and other social media sites is not what you should be thinking about; it should be about marketing your book and starting another! There is so much work you can do prior to being published.

Jump in!

Remember: There's no substitute for writing on a daily basis.

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