Cheaters Never Win 

Today is my birthday.

I won’t say how old I am, not because I’m afraid of getting older or vain enough to deny the passage of time (like so many women my age, who keep posting photos of their “29th” birthday on Facebook year after year after year). I just kind of find my age irrelevant.

But in case you’re a stickler for detail (and all writers SHOULD be), I’ll tell you that my new age is the same number as the element silver on the Periodic Table. Do NOT google it. It’s the kind of thing you either know or you don’t and to use technology to figure it out is sort of like cheating.

And it’s cheating I want to talk about today—or, rather, trying to cheat the publishing process.

I know I’ve covered this topic before, but based on what I find in my work with authors every day, I can tell that the message is not quite sinking in. So, here it is again:

Writing is hard work.

If you claim to be a writer and don’t already know that, you’re doing something wrong.

Hey, I’ll admit that for some of us, some of the time, writing a first draft feels EASY.

You get a great idea, get inspired, get in touch with your muse, and the words just seem to flow like water out of a faucet (another image I’ve probably used to death).

But what you need to know is that writing the first draft IS the easy part.

The hard part is what comes next: the long, ugly slog through sticky mud (or maybe it’s quicksand?) as you try to get your work ready to publish.

Whether you choose to self-publish or go traditional, you need to know this: Your job is nowhere near done when you type “The End” on the last page of your first draft.

That seemingly final flourish is, more realistically, somewhere around the 1-mile marker in the marathon that is the publishing process. To be honest, it’s probably even more like the 1-kilometer marker (for all you metric fans out there). It’s THAT far away from the finish line.

Once you have a first draft, you have months—if not YEARS—of work to do on that draft before it’s ready to submit, much less publish.

You have edits of your own to do, professional editors to hire, beta readers to get on board, and revisions upon revisions upon revision all still ahead of you.

So, don’t get lazy. All that work IS the job, and, if you want to be a writer, you DID sign up for it.

There’s a reason most professional writers tell aspiring writers that they should consider writing as a career path only if there’s absolutely nothing else in the entire world that they might want to do.

Writing can be—and usually is—THAT hard. Hell, there are plenty of days when I contemplate taking a janitorial job—maybe in a slaughterhouse—because it would be a lot easier and a WHOLE lot less messy than trying to write for a living.

My point is that you can’t cheat the process. You have to suffer through it if you want the thrill of seeing your work published.

And believe me, that thrill IS worth the effort.

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