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Graduation Day

by Lillian Duncan

Randy Ingermanson likens fiction writing to high school. He talks about freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior writers and then there’s graduation day–becoming a published author! How does a writer reach graduation day?

There are, of course, different routes to get there-more so now than ever before. This is not discussion on traditional vs. indie publishing. I believe both are viable and valuable for writers. That’s not the point of this post.

The point is getting published is a process. A process that CAN be rushed, but shouldn’t be. If you rush the process, you’re going to miss out on some of the journey. And the journey is as important as graduation day.

There are things to be learned during the journey. Don’t want to deal with rejections? But they make you stronger when you get those bad reviews. Got writer’s block? That’s OK, because you’ve learned to trust the process. The journey will make you a stronger, better writer.

For me, it was a long journey to graduation day-too long. I admit I made the journey longer than it had to be, but I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few things I’ve learned that may make your journey shorter.

1. Learn the craft. I present a workshop where I talk about the ABCs of Being a Writer. A is for Art. B is for Business. C is for Craft. All three are important ingredients for a successful career as a writer.

2. Be teachable. For me, I think this is the number one rule of being a writer. If you aren’t willing to learn from others, it’s going to take a long time to graduate. ACFW is filled with many wonderful and wise writers who are willing to share their knowledge. Let them help you.

3. Be a part of a critique group. I credit joining the ACFW Scribes group for finally bringing me to graduation day. As you learn to recognize weak writing in others, it will strengthen your own writing. It doesn’t happen overnight, but one day your fingers will slow down and then come to a rest on the keyboard. As you reread the sentence, you’ll think-oops-that’s back story or head hopping or whatever your favorite “mistake” is.

4. Don’t get stuck on a manuscript. Many unpublished writers write their first story and refuse to move on. Instead they write and rewrite and rewrite the same story. But one book does not a career make. Your writing will get better with each finished manuscript.

My first story had so many No-Nos that made it (almost) unredeemable-started with a dream-lots of back story-lots of flashbacks-head hopping-not to mention the always popular amnesia!

As with all things, quality takes time.

In this new electronic age, it’s very easy to publish a book, but I would caution you to reflect on your writing skills. Be honest about what grade you’re in and make a commitment to finish the journey. So that when graduation day comes, no matter what route you take, you can hold your head up and know you earned your diploma.


As an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, Lillian Duncan believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
She writes the type of books she loved to read-suspense with a touch of romance. To learn more visit: www.lillianduncan.net. Her most recent releases are PURSUED (White Rose Publishing) and DECEPTION (Harbourlight Books), plus the upcoming novella THE CHRISTMAS STALKING.

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