Today Lisa Shearin, author of the Raine Benares series, is talking about the importance of perseverance in writing! Earlier, I mentioned that I wanted to invite some authors I hadn’t talked about here before so my regular readers might discover some new authors. Lisa Shearin is one of those authors, although I’ve had my eye on her books since they’ve been recommended by The Book Smugglers, Tia from Debuts & Reviews, Angie from Angieville, and Felicia Day. With recommendations like that, I can’t imagine not enjoying this series!
If you want to be published, you’ve got to want it bad.
Anyone who’s ever sat down to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard already knows that writing is hard work, it’s lonely work, and a lot of the time it’s unappreciated and misunderstood work.
Some authors are literal overnight successes — they hit pay dirt and even the “big time” with the first book they’ve ever written. We’ve seen their stories — six-figure advances, press coverage out the wazoo; heck, sometimes even Oprah.
Then there’s me — and 99.99% of writers. The first book we have published isn’t our first or second. Mine was my third. For me, it took over 20 years of hard work to get to where I am. I’m grateful for everything I have now.
For the vast majority of writers, success (i.e., reaching the goal of being published), takes a couple of manuscripts that are more than likely stuffed in a closet, before we write something publishable. I’m grateful for the “no, thank yous” I got early in my career. At one writers’ conference, I even thanked one agent for turning me down. From the expression on his face, I’ll bet he hadn’t heard that very often.
After producing something worth publishing, there’s the struggle, the waiting, and the waiting some more to finally land an agent, and then waiting for your agent to sell your precious to a publisher—if you choose to go with the traditional publishing route. But regardless of your choice, you have to do a lot of hard work. There is no easy way. You have to want it so badly that you’re willing to write every day, even when you don’t want to, even when you don’t feel inspired, or even when you’re just too danged tired. You have to write regardless of everything. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take the occasional day off. It’s a good idea, for you and for those who have to live with you.
Writing for publication is kind of like training as a professional athlete. They have to work out every day, training and honing their skills if they want to improve. As a writer, your challenge is to find the time to write, which very often means sacrificing something else you want to do. The writing comes first. Also, when you write, you write alone. Some writers have critique groups; I don’t. It’s just not something that works for me.
Then there’s the biggest problem that most writers encounter: family and friends not taking them or their work seriously. They think that if you haven’t been published, that you’re not a real writer. That’s a load of bullpucky. If you write and work hard at it, you are a real writer regardless of whether you’ve ever signed your name to a publishing contract or not. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; and if they do, don’t believe them. I always told people that it wasn’t a matter of if I got published, but when.
Keep telling yourselves the same thing. And like me, if you tell yourself often enough, you will believe it. Believing in yourself is half the battle.
Lisa Shearin is the author of the national bestselling fantasy adventure series featuring Raine Benares, a finder of things lost and people missing. The sixth Raine Benares adventure, All Spell Breaks Loose, will hit bookstore shelves (and cyber eBook shelves) on May 29. To read sample chapters from any of Lisa’s books, visit www.lisashearin.com. And you can follow Lisa on Twitter—@LisaShearin.