Words aspiring writers want to hear.
“Send me a proposal on your idea.”
When it happened for me, at a writers conference, I first went off to a private place and cried happy tears. Then reality set in.
I hadn’t written a thing. I only had an abstract idea, a desire to write, and a nudge from God. The publisher didn’t offer any guidance on how to format a book proposal; he simply told me to send one.
When I got home, I got to work. The situation called for a marriage between prayer and practical actions. Shortly after I said, “Amen,” inspiration hit.
I wrote my goal on a piece of lined notebook paper. “I Will Read 100 Books on the Craft and Business of Writing.”
I practiced while I studied. It took me almost two years to accomplish the task, but when I finished the one hundredth book, I was able to look back and see the transformation in my work. Only then did I gather enough courage to submit a few queries for articles. And though there were rejections, there was also success.
After focusing on the craft of writing, I invested in the business of writing. If I wanted to author books, I needed help. I networked with other professionals and listened to their advice. I attended more conferences. I hired an editor to critque my work. And I continued reading beyond my first 100 books.
I wanted to create a stellar proposal. After gleaning the best information, I practiced on my first topic numerous times. By the time I ran across Michael Hyatt’s e-books on Writing a Winning Book Proposal for fiction and non-fiction, I was ready to finalize my project.
It took another year before I harvested any fruit from my labors, but harvest I did. WordServe Literary signed me based on that original topic. The hard work of crafting a writing goal and meeting it helped my agent sell my first book, scheduled for release in 2013.
I’ve now lost count of the number of writing books I’ve read. But there are a few I refer back to time and again:
10. On Writing Well – William Zinsser
9. Story — Robert McKee
8. The Art of War for Writers — James Scott Bell
7. Bird by Bird — Anne Lamott
6. Stein on Writing — Sol Stein
5. Writing Down the Bones — Natalie Goldberg
4. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers — Renni Browne & Dave King
3. Finding Your Voice — Les Edgerton
2. Writing for Story — Jon Franklin
1. Screenplay — Syd Field
I’m a lifetime learner. Without the help of many willing to share what they learned through their books, I probably wouldn’t be writing today.
What are your goals, and what are you doing to meet them?