Keeping it Classy

Technically, this post is aimed at Pitch Wars participants, but really, it applies to any writer—whether participating in a contest, querying, or what.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process, to focus on your own journey and experience—especially in a contest like Pitch Wars. Which means it’s also easy to forget that you are not alone, and you do not live in a vacuum.

Which means what, exactly?

Ready for some tough love? Well, it’s coming. Don’t worry, my usual peppy cheerleader stuff will replace Mom-Mode later. Sometimes, you’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet.

Your “job” as a writer is not over when you type “the end” at the bottom of your manuscript. Nope. Not even close. You’ve got a long way to go baby, and while there are people who will help you along that way, a lot of the work is on you.

Yes, you.

You are going to have to research agents, and write query letters, and jump through hoops, and say please and thank you. Eventually, you’re going to have to revise and rework, and deal with other people’s opinions on your writing—and find a way to mesh them together with your vision.

You have work to do. You have a role to play.

And it doesn’t involve passively sitting back and asking others to do it for you.

Y’know how it’s best to avoid passive voice in your writing? Well, you need to avoid being passive in your journey as a writer as well.

Have I pissed you off just a little bit? Or a lot a bit? Are you feeling indignant?

That was not my intention, and if you are feeling that way, I suggest it’s likely because you’ve been guilty of being just a little bit passive.

Now that you’re choking on the bitter, here comes the sweet.

You’ve done something awesome!

You finished a novel. You took a risk and shared that work with a stranger. You put yourself out there. You brought characters and places and events to life—you created something from nothing.

How awesome is that?

Celebrate it! Jump up and down, shout “woohoo!” Have a drink. Whatever it takes to mark the occasion.

Now don’t stop there.

Do you have another story in you? Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep working on your craft. Read, then read some more. Write and share with other writers—people who are not close friends or family. Tell another story.

Because that’s what writers do. We tell stories.

And if you don’t get in? If you sub to agents and get rejections?

Chin up. It happens. Go back and read the last couple of paragraphs.

This business is full of negatives—waiting, and not knowing, and hearing no-no-no. It’s full of uncertainty and things that make you question your skill and your purpose.

So what?

If you want your novel to see the light of day, these are things you’re going to have to deal with. Not everyone will love your story. And that’s OK.

Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep working on your craft… you get the idea.

Now, some Pitch Wars specific advice that you can pretty much apply to almost anything in life:

  • Remember mentors are human. They are people, with jobs and lives just like you. They’re stressed about deadlines, and finding the ONE manuscript they’re going to love for the next two months. They’re also volunteering their time. Please be courteous, kind, and appreciative of their efforts.
  • Hold up your end of the rope. Remember, you have a job to do. Take responsibility for your own participation and progress. Get involved with the community, double check those spam/junk folders, respond promptly to any emails you may receive, and keep an open mind. Be ready to work, and work hard.
  • Keep it positive. Y’know, stay classy. Stay professional. However you want to put it. Commiserate with close friends or critique partners—privately. Complain all you want—privately. Think of your public presence as a brand—because that’s exactly what it is.

And now for the hardest, most difficult piece of advice: HAVE FUN!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled happy, perky, pep-talking friendly neighborhood cheerleader and fellow Pitch Wars hopeful.

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