Give yourself credit for the effort, not your success

Soooo…to make long story short, I did not spend my morning writing or editing today. Nope, no 1000 words for me today. Instead, I attended a workshop by Esther Simon, a well-known professional organizer. It ended up being a little bit of a wake up call. My revelation came in the middle of a discussion about how the way you spend your time should reflect your goals and values.

Am I really doing what I need to do to sell my next book?

Yes, if you believe in G-d, you should cast your burdens on Him/Her/Genderless Surpreme Being. The agent of your success is truly Divine. But you have to open a window to let Help in–by taking some steps yourself.

Here’s mini-moshel (see yesterday’s post if you don’t know what a moshel is):

A kid is complaining he’s hungry. The food is right in front of him, but he still has to open his mouth and lift the fork to get the food in him. He could be sitting in front of a banquet table, laden with delicacies, but if his mouth stays shut, his tummy will still rumble.

Here’s how it applies to my writing life:

While I spend a lot of time writing and polishing (could still do better, but I’m consistently producing work of decent quality) and  some (could be more) time looking for new opportunities, I need to spend more time actually submitting manuscripts. 

I think she got a rejection letter today, too.

Because I received a lot of rejection letters for my picture book subs, I stopped sending them out. But really, I think I should be doing it more. Yes, I should select the recipient of my subs carefully, and yes, the stories should be perfected first, but I can’t sell a book if I don’t try. Just keep sending them out and eventually, with Heavenly assistance, something will TAKE.

By the way, it’s the same thing with submitting articles to secular publishers. Yes, there is more competition, and I have no reputation in that market to speak of, but I won’t get those opportunities if I don’t  JUST SUBMIT! I love writing for the Jewish media, and will continue to do so, but I need to find more money-making opportunities wherever they are.

Because of my magazine work, I’ve gotten pretty good at writing quality material quickly. In concrete terms, if I’m writing 1000 words daily (at least sometimes), then I can submit at least once a week. At least. So that’s my new secondary goal.

1) Attempt to write 1000 a day.

2) Submit an unsolicited piece (picture book, article, whatever) at least once a week, even if it seems like a long-shot.

I’m not in charge of my ultimate success, but I’m in charge of my effort. Because of this, I think that judging my personal success merely by sales would be a mistake. Let G-d take credit for my failures! On the other hand, I can’t really take credit for my success, either. I’d love to hear from any writers (or any other professionals) out there how they measure their success, and how they prioritize their work tasks to reflect those values.

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