Sunday, March 13, 2011

Do the Work

I do not understand lazy people. At all. I understand wanting a lazy day, or a lazy vacation, or a lack of motivation. Those are all part of the cyclical patterns of our lives. What I don't understand are the people who want the reward (fame! glory! money! credit!) but won't do the work.

Hard work pays off. Period. Laziness and entitlement? Not so much. Yet the trend seems to swing that way. Unfortunately, no one seems to notice those don't yield results.

Take the writing profession (which is only one example, but one I encounter often). I know many folks who, at some point in their life, get the idea to write a book. I think that's a worthy endeavor, but I'm biased. And I'm always happy to offer advice if asked. It's not an easy undertaking, which is why I'm happy to point someone in the right direction. Notice I said point them in the right direction, not hold their hand. I quickly lose patience with someone who wants to be told how to do every step, and they end up not doing anything for themselves. If you can't spell, learn. If you can't learn, you're not a writer. If you don't know grammar, take a class. If you won't take a class, don't be a writer. If you expect to sell a book two weeks after you send off your first query letter, stop writing and get a reality check. It doesn't work that way unless you're an author who's previously generated millions of dollars in revenue (and even then, it will be a long process).

Instant gratification and publishing are not bed fellows. Never have been. And books don't write themselves (same goes for query letters, synopses, editing, revisions, and research) But guess what pays off? Hard work. Lots and lots of hard work. This includes research, education, reading, practice, workshops, more research, more education...and I'm sure you know where I'm going with that. To recycle and paraphrase a great comment I heard recently (thanks Jean!)--it's your dream, you chase it.

At the end of the day, the book is yours to write, yours to edit, yours to sell. Here are some do's and don'ts to help:
1) Do expect to do hard work. If you love it, it won't seem like a chore.
2) Don't expect someone to make it better. That's your job (see #1)
3) Do be willing to learn. If you assume you know it all, your career will be short-lived.
4) Don't expect anyone to love it the end result. Opinions are subjective.
5) Do ask for help if you're stuck and have exhausted every possible avenue.

I wish you luck, and hope you dive right into that hard work. Remember, it pays off.

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