Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Encouragement for Living the Writing Dream


by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

I've been a writer from an early age. My brother, twelve years older than me, was married when I was a third grader. My childhood was spent alone—no siblings to play hide-and-seek with, but valuable time with a vivid imagination instead. I think this is how many creatives are born. Alone with their imaginations make a wonderful playground.

Stories have always been an active part of my life. The problem was that no one else believed stories were as important as I did. "Go to college. Get a real job." Who hasn't heard that? That high school appointment you had with your guidance counselor before graduation turned into just that for me. "Cindy, get a real job. There's no money in writing for a living." Oh, did I mention that was the advice from the guidance counselor AFTER he stopped laughing? Best my memory serves, his last words were, "Writing is just a hobby. You can't make a living on a hobby—at least not a real one."

My naivety led me to believe that guidance counselor, so I put writing on the back burner. I got married, had babies, and changed my priorities. The babies came first, but this momma began to follow her dreams when the babies hit their senior year in high school. 

My first conference was in 2002, and then it was six long years of learning. Rejections from every direction. Here's the sad thing. I acquired an agent on the coattail of a writer with whom I'd written a romance novel. That agent had turned me down on my own. I wondered if this writing thing was a dream or a farce, but because the agent already contracted my friend, to shop the novel, she had to sign me as well. I felt like I'd been in a mile relay, barely crossing the finish line. I didn't deserve a trophy, but I got a ribbon as a participation award.

The dream wasn't panning out like I'd hoped. Still, I kept up the work because I'm not a quitter. The lie happened when I began to believe I wasn't good enough to be an author. A dear friend and I stood at Blue Ridge, and I whined, "It's been eight years. I don't think I'll ever be good enough to be published." 

"Do you really believe that?" She asked. Sadly enough, I was beginning to believe that lie. A reality check from this friend straightened me out, and off I went again.

I tell you this backstory because the writing dream is not an easy dream to follow. As you approach conference times nationwide, I want to offer you a few words of advice and encouragement.

6 Pieces of Advice for Writers When Discouragement Hits

1. Anything worth having requires hard work: I'm sure you've heard this adage. You may not find comfort or encouragement in it, but it's true. We live in a world where folks feel entitled. If success is not instantaneous, we get mad and stomp off, determined to "do it ourselves." The hardest thing for new writers to understand is that your first work is rarely your best, and "publication ready" comes with the price of hard work of learning the craft of writing.

2.The writing dream is filled with rejection: Could I be any more encouraging? You may not think so, but trust me, good things come to those who wait! (And yes, another cliché.) Again, both are true. I call it getting bloody knees. Because writing is a learning process, we'll meet rejection head-on. The question is, are you willing to persevere and do what you must to overcome rejection? It's important to remember that your rejections are not always because your writing is not ready. There are many reasons for rejection—from not following the submission guidelines to having a flooded market, so don't quit because you've gotten multiple rejections. Keep on keeping on. You know that the law of averages will eventually take hold, and suddenly, you will hit a landslide of acceptance. Sometimes, with trends fluctuating, you have to be at the right place at the right time. Keep at it.

3. Dreams tend to get shoved to the side by life: If you long to be a writer, fan the fire. Make sure you budget your time to include the dream of writing. This dream can quickly be snatched away by demands on your time.

4. Budget, Budget, Budget: Speaking of b-b-b-budgets. Not only do you need to budget your time, but learn to budget your money so you can attend a writers conference. Most conferences have their rates and dates available for the next year as soon as their conference for this year ends. Count the weeks until the next conference, divide that into the cost, and then set that number into your budget. Do without McDonald's or those cheesy magazines about celebrities. Skip bubble gum and chocolate. It's amazing how quickly you can meet your weekly amount by cutting out unnecessary items. You don't need Starbucks every day. Here's what I've found in working with people over the years. Folks find the money for the things they really want to do. You know this to be true. If it's something you want bad enough, you make a way. The same applies here. Learn to budget to gain the necessary training to follow the dream.

5. Have a teachable spirit and a willing heart: Don't rush success. Becoming a good writer happens quickly, but becoming an excellent writer takes time. Listen to those with the experience to help move you along in your career. Learn from those who have already walked the path. One thing I love about Christian Writers Conferences and their faculties is that they understand there is room for everyone. The godly side of this publishing ring is that well-seasoned authors want to see new writers succeed. That is why they give their time to attend conferences. If it depended on the time and expense of faculty members versus the pay they receive, we'd never have faculty members. Conferences can't afford to pay huge fees for faculty. So, when you meet with these wonderful folks, understand that they are there with you because they love influencing up-and-coming writers. They once stood in your shoes, and they want you to succeed. The finances never work out on paper, but God rarely writes on notepads. He just leaves the provision on the doorstep.

Writing is subjective, so learn and discern what works for you.

6. Don't quit: So many throw in the towel too soon. I've worked with several excellent writers who quit just as they teetered on the cusp of something big. Mary Kay Ashe, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said, "Much is lost except for just a little more hard work." Use discernment when you work hard and are on the cusp of success. Begin to pray that God will strengthen your spirit so that you can follow through. Ask for His blessing and for Him to send the right encouragement to get the lies out of your ear. Don't you dare quit! Quitting is unacceptable. Your time will come, but only if you persevere.

The people who lead the conferences you attend have sunk in hours of work, prayer, and skill to bring you to a place where you can be nurtured and learn. Their desire is what God has called them to do—serve. 

I offer you the words of Eva Marie Everson from way back at my first conference. "Repeat after me. I am a writer. Now go and write." Live that dream.

TWEETABLE

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. Having served for a number of years as a managing editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Ironstream Media, Cindy now works as a mentor, coach, and freelance editor. She is the co-founder of Writing Right Author Mentoring Services with Lori Marett and she is the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Cindy is also the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and WWW.CHRISTIANDEVOTIONS.US, as well as WWW.INSPIREAFIRE.COM. Her devotions are in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and her novels have become award-winning best-selling works. She is a popular speaker at conferences and a natural encourager. Cindy is a mountain girl, born and raised in the Appalachian mountains, where she and her husband still reside. She has raised four sons and now resorts to raising chickens where the pecking order is easier to manage. You can visit Cindy at WWW.CINDYSPROLES.COM or www.wramsforwriters.com.

5 comments:

  1. Ditto to all those wise words. They can keep us going. Thank you, Cindy!

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  2. Awww, you're welcome. You have to stick with it in this business.

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  3. Just Thank you. Perfect words.

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  4. You have been an example to us all and a mentor to so many. Thank you for these wise words. For sure it is a process, and we'd do well to embrace that, because God is not wasting a minute in our lives. Love you, Cindy!

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