Carroll Dale Short

• Writing Tips •

Mastering the “Down the Well” Approach to Writing

If you've been writing for any length of time and submitting your work to publishers, you've probably had the thought: “I feel like I'm throwing my work down a well!”

That's a good thing. Writing is a three-step cycle: (1) Write something, (2) Revise and polish it until it's the very best it can be, and (3) Send it off for a publisher's reaction. Then, rinse and repeat.

The problem is, especially if you're a beginning writer, your manuscript is most likely to be rejected. Even established writers, including best-selling ones, regularly have their work rejected, or have an editor ask for revisions so major they take weeks or months.

Rejection is never fun. It's even less fun if you submit ONE manuscript to ONE publisher and sit back and wait for their response. If/when your work is rejected, that's 100 percent of your emotional capital going down in flames. Not the best way to keep your spirits up for task of writing something every day.

If you keep TWO manuscripts in the submission cycle, then receiving a rejection only trashes 50 percent of your self-esteem. Keep three manuscripts out at once, and receiving a rejection only crushes one-third of your heart. Four manuscripts, you're just 25 percent heartbroken.

See where this is going?

Keeping your courage up means that you have to un-attach yourself emotionally from each piece of writing once it's completed, polished, and in the hands of fate and the Postal Service. Un-attaching is the only way you can give 100 percent of your attention and passion to whatever new piece you're working on at the moment.

As my teacher Jesse Hill Ford used to remind us, “The act of writing and the business of writing are two totally separate worlds. The first one you can control; the second one you can't. If you try to juggle both in your head at once, it'll drive you crazy.

“The hardest thing for any writer to do, published or not, is to write something new every day, with neither expectation nor despair.”

And he was right.

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