Superstitious Conditioning and Re-Learning How to Write

This was a post I sent to the SFC mailing list. This post is for anyone who is not frequently being published or more handwritten rejection letters than acceptances by a very large margin.

If you take every single writer who thinks the rules are there to be broken and that I was so good it was a matter of just a matter of marketing and rewriting is for people who didn’t get it right the first time, you would have been looking at me ten years ago.

The moment the way I was writing wasn’t working if it was only giving me intermittent success, I changed everything about how I wrote. I sold a dozen *cough* paranormal romance books under my pen name, but getting a book published isn’t the pinnacle of your success, it’s the starting point. In 2012 when I started to stay home and write, I realized that the way I was writing, even though it was selling, I wasn’t writing, I was wrestling words onto the page.

I changed the way I wrote again, and I’ve sold every single thing I wrote in 2013 and for the first time in my life, I have a list full of anthology calls that I’m writing to on a schedule. I used to find writing a theme about as easy as trying to get a wet feral cat out of a cat carrier, but I’m knocking them off one-by-one and every one I do is my favourite.

I have friends who are still trying to sell the book they wrote 5-10 years ago. The books have been polished and workshopped to the Nth degree and the rejections they receive are as encouraging as rejections could be, but rather than throwing their whole attention onto the next book that will make it, they want to switch hats and self-publish. I told them if they wrote a book or two they’ll probably be able to go back and see the glaring errors in their prose that make people who are excited about the concept of the book not want to take it on.

I know I’m too passionate about writing and I speak in absolutes when absolutely there are people who are the exception, but if I could get over the concept that if there was nothing wrong with my manuscript the problem is definitely with the industry, anyone can. But most writers, until they realize what they don’t know, they act like superstitious pigeons in a skinner box, doing that thing that randomly rewards them. Most people clue in eventually. Some may never. But you can’t learn anything if you think you already know everything. I know I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know how to overcome superstitious conditioning.

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