Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Is the Right Answer for Writers?

For almost 12 years now, part of my job as an editor has been to dispense advice to writers on the best way to do X or the most practical method of accomplishing Y. Since I wanted to be a teacher in high school and college, it's a part of my job that I've always loved.

Should I or shouldn't I?

At the same, my advice is only one view. Other editors have different preferences and ways of handling submissions than I do. Some editors are more demanding or particular. Some editors communicate more; many communicate less.

So when I share my answers on how to handle situations, I do it from my own experience and from the experiences that have been relayed to me from other editors and agents. I believe 100% in the advice I share, but I'm also always looking for views and strategies that are different than mine. You should too!

Instead of searching for THE right answer, search for YOUR right answer.

Listen to the advice of experts like myself and my Tweeps to Follow List, but use your own gut to determine the best path for you. If you're in a situation that seems like a bad idea and everyone else says it's bad, then you should probably follow everyone's advice. If you're in a situation that seems like a great idea but nobody told you to go that way, don't hold back from cutting your own path.

It's your writing career, and if you want to find success, there are going to be times when you need to make decisions that can't be easily answered on a "10 Tips to Handle X" list. When it comes to these decisions, follow your gut and try to be brave. Use your brain, but don't let it "reason" you into avoiding an opportunity. If it feels right and you can't find a legitimate reason not to try, then go for it.

Successful writers are those who are not afraid to fail and who learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. So I'll say it again for emphasis...

Instead of searching for THE right answer, search for YOUR right answer.

You may not always succeed, but I doubt you'll be disappointed with the overall results.


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1 comment:

Sakuntala Gananathan said...

I came across this anecdote about a boy who wrote this poem:
A man walked on the railway track
When a train came rushing by,
He jumped over the railway track
To let the train go by.

The teacher told the boy the lines had nothing special to convey. So he promptly changed the last two lines:
The train jumped o'er the railway track,
And watched the man walk by.