by Dani Pettrey
Last month, I shared five proactive steps you can take while waiting for the “call.” Those steps helped me during my waiting days, and I hope they were encouraging to you. Today, I’d like to share five more.
1. All good things take time:
It takes time to learn how to write a novel. Yes, there are those writers whose first manuscript gets published and hits the bestseller list, but they are the exception. Writing is a craft, and just like any other art discipline-painting, music, sculpture-it takes time to learn and a lot of practice to perfect it. This is where a mentor, critique group, and/or craft books come in. There are so many ways to continually improve your craft, and so many recourses available in this day and age.
2. Focus on one area at a time:
One thing that I found particularly helpful as I was learning the craft (which I continue to do-there’s always room to learn and grow-it definitely doesn’t stop with publication) was focusing on an area of improvement. With each manuscript, I’d pick an area I really wanted to strengthen. For example, I’d pick characterization. I’d make a goal of wanting to create characters my future readers would resonate with. For that manuscript, I’d read craft books on characterization, I’d study how the authors I loved developed their characters, and I’d make that aspect of craft my focus. With each manuscript I wrote, I picked a different area of improvement. I still do that with each novel. It takes the overwhelming task of wanting to improve everything at the same time (which, of course, would be lovely to do) and breaks it into manageable bites.
3. Look at how far you’ve come:
Every so often, take a look at what you’ve accomplished, how you’ve grown as a person, as a writer, and the positive steps you’ve taken in the right direction. Have you found a critique group you love? Has your feedback on contest entries improved? Are your rejection letters getting more positive? Have you signed with an agent? Have you completed a new manuscript? Each year, I would look back and see the improvement I’d made, or the positives that had happened, and it would encourage me for the year ahead. Set goals and follow your dream.
4. Enjoy the process:
My mentor shared this gem with me several years before I sold. She told me to enjoy the process of writing itself. As an unpublished writer, you have the freedom to write without an official deadline, without marketing, without everything else that goes along with being published. There’s a beauty in that. Once you’re published, it’s wonderful, but there are a lot more responsibilities and pressures. Learning to love the process-developing characters, crafting stories, writing numerous drafts, revisions, etc.-will bring you a lot of joy and allow you to remain fresh for each story. I love diving into a new story and spending time there.
5. Trust God’s timing:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1
I tried to remind myself regularly while awaiting publication, that God’s timing is best. It might not always seem that way, but the Bible tells us that’s true. There were times when I was so close and the deal didn’t happen, and I’d feel like I wasn’t making any headway. But, being on the other side looking back, I can truly say God’s timing was perfect for me. He blessed me with editors I adore, a publishing house I love, the story of my heart being my debut novel and the list goes on. Take heart, God knows the very number of hairs on your head. He knows your comings and goings. He knows when the time is right. Trust in Him and His timing.
I pray these steps have been of help and encouragement to you. And if you haven’t had a chance to read the last five, you can see them here: http://www.acfw.com/blog/?p=6247
Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. Her debut novel, Submerged, released in 2012 and her current release, Shattered, just hit shelves. Dani feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two daughters. Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.