In writing, as in any craft, people like to use the word ‘should’ fairly often. Your novel should be at least x amount of words in length to meet the requirements of most publishing houses, you should attend at least x amount of writing conferences and join at least one writing group. All good advice, given by people who know that these things do increase your chances of publication in a competitive market.
But just imagine for a moment that you can remove the word ‘should’ from your thinking, if only temporarily. Not in the literal sense of course and not in terms of the general rules of writing. I’m all for the rules, always have been. Characters that are developing with the plot and within a multi-layered structure, everything falling into place and making sense – It’s organised heaven! You can’t skimp on that. At the end of the day, your polished and finished product is essential to being a published writer. Without it, all the writing conferences and writing groups in the world will make little difference.
OK, now you can think about ‘should’ again, but I wouldn’t give it too much thought. After all, not all paths to publication are equal. Why do some writers publish their work early while others take longer to publish something of the same or better standard? Why are some painters or actors world-famous, while others aren’t? I wouldn’t give that too much thought either. But never let this discourage you from staying focused.
Say you’re hoping to travel from A to B. You’re 100 or so meters away from an approaching tram and tram stop and you decide to run. Some tram drivers might wait for you, some might not. Some might be running late themselves and won’t stop for long. Some might not even see you. But let me ask you this – will this prevent you from running if the same thing happened next time? No. You’d run again and again. And with heels, if you had to.
Yes, writing or any other craft is hard work, but so is anything else worth doing in life. As long as you realise that your craft can always be improved and you receive constructive criticism with this in mind, there might come a time when the tram will stop long enough for you to get on.
Yes, the market is competitive, but so are you. A competitive nature, in this case, is definitely an advantage.
I should know. I wasn’t banned from playing Pictionary in my house for nothing.