I received the following question from a reader, and it’s really one of the many reasons why I admire authors and always try to respect every query and submission I receive (even though it might not always feel that way from your end. . . .).
When writing fiction, as an unpublished writer, how do you know you aren’t beating yourself over the head? Agents won’t talk to you without a completed manuscript, but then you have no agent to talk to about your manuscript in progress. Any suggestions for the hopefully up and comings out there?
The truth is that the decision to seek publication is a leap of faith. Faith that doing what you love is also something others will enjoy and something you can earn money from. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s any way to know whether you’re “beating yourself over the head.” And while it’s true that while working on that manuscript you don’t have an agent you can talk to, you do have other writers and critique partners who can guide you through the process, help you learn, and hopefully let you know whether or not you’re ready for publication.
Having never been in that situation I’m afraid I don’t have any advice from in the trenches. What I can tell you, though, is that if you really love to write and you do hope someday to be published, you need to be in it for the long haul. You need to be ready to take criticism as well as praise and you need to always try your best to listen with an open mind. Some of the things you hear won’t be of any use and some won’t ring true at the time you hear them, but might later down the line. I think, though, that the key to being a successfully published author is the willingness to learn and grow.
But I’d like to hear from writers out there. What made you stick with it or what makes you stick with? How do you know you aren’t spinning your wheels and how do you keep that faith alive?