Consider this quote from basketball great Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
His point? To be so successful, you have to be in the game a lot and willing to fail on the way to your successes. The same is true for writers.
Over and Over and Over
I have a good friend who has outsold me in the last five years, about five books to one. She has also received a lot more rejections, and she’s had to bounce back from each depressing turndown by an editor. But don’t miss the point here. She has had many more sales because she has been gutsier and submitted a lot more than I have. She knows that rejection simply comes as part of the publishing package.
Do you want to be published by a traditional publisher? Then you need to write and submit consistently–and be willing to get rejected–in order to succeed. And not just once or twice or five times. You need to do this a lot.
Don’t misunderstand here. It’s not just a matter of doing something a large number of times. Even Michael Jordan didn’t just close his eyes, spin around, and throw the ball up in the air–and magically score hundreds of points. He:
- opened his eyes
- took careful aim at the basketball hoop
- listened to his coach
- practiced his form
- concentrated, and
- then threw the ball.
Sometimes he missed–but lots of times he scored. The one thing he didn’t do was quit along the way.
Writing Parallels Sports
In the same way, just writing and writing and writing, then submitting and submitting and submitting, won’t do the trick. It’s not just about the volume of words you write, although volume is important. (It does take practice to make perfect.)
If you want to build the career of your dreams, you must also:
- study the markets
- take careful aim
- invite feedback from writing teachers and critique partners
- repeatedly practice whatever form of writing you do, and
- then submit.
Keep following this formula–keep on keepin’ on. The law of averages will catch up with you if you don’t quit.
What About You?
Writers struggle more with some parts of the process than others. Some can write and revise till kingdom come–but won’t submit. Others submit to editors willingly, but don’t take feedback and revise.
Which part of the above “formula” for success gives you the most trouble?