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?
21 Replies to “Crafting a Writing Goal”
Thanks for sharing those books and your journey!
I only hope my experience helps someone else. I didn’t know what I was doing, but found there were a lot of resources to help me learn.
I already had some of these, but just bought three more- yay! Unless you want to let me download your brain and save the reading time 🙂
Downloading my brain is the scariest thought of all. ;o)
Not sure how I found the link to this article,but thankful I have read your words this morning. God gave me a dream to write and the idea is there but I’ve been wrestling with it for quite some time.
Robin, I praise God that He brought you here. These still, small confirmations are exactly what we need to act on God’s call. Feel free to email me anytime you need a boost of encouragement. I might not be able to respond immediately, but will as soon as possible. Blessings on your journey. Email addy: email@example.com
Congratulations! And, thanks for sharing your journey and what’s helped you, so far 🙂
I’m just another person with a dream, who would never have acted without the tug of God. Another book that’s helped me take action is The Dreamgiver by Bruce Wilkinson. I’ve read it multiple times. When I feel discouraged it gets me moving.
Great list of books. Zinser was the first writing book I ever RE-read. If writers aren’t also readers of writing books, then writing obviously isn’t very important to them. At one point, I asked those who queried me about a project they had what books on writing they had read. When the answer came back none (as it often did), I knew what my answer would be. Few writers are inherently “that good” that they shouldn’t read several books on craft. And reading your genre, especially general market books in your category, is the next thing I ask. I had one author tell me he read 1000 murder mysteries before he wrote his own. It showed. His book was fantastic (after spending 3 years writing and rewriting) and by the time it got to me, it was a page turner. I sold him immediately. It’s the little things, like caring about your own career enough to be the best at your craft that impresses me more than anything else. Writers who want to circumvent the process and go from idea, to proposal, to finished manuscript…all without the benefit of reading LOTS of writing books and those in their category tell me they’re not serious about their career.
Wow, I’m extremely humbled by your comment, Greg. I never thought about this from the perspective of professionals such as agents, editors, or publishers, just from someone who needed to learn.
Anita, that’s why your proposal attracted me from the beginning, and why we sold your book. It was one of the most well-written, thoughtful proposals I’d ever read. Ditto to Greg’s comment!
Barb, you have to be one of the best agents around. I’m still in awe that someone of your caliber is representing me. And WordServe’s reputation in the publishing business is amazing. But most of all, I’m grateful to partner with you so we can serve God and other people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks for sharing your journey and book list.
People who don’t write ask me if I’ve published a book yet with no understanding how much I’m studying on the craft and business of writing. I’ve got 3 books ordered to come this week on just book proposals.
I’m attending my first conference in Sept.
Do you have any hints on writing a One Sheet? I’ve got my one line, Bible verse, (I write Christian fiction), my picture and very brief bio.
Thanks for your help!
Congrats — it certainly sounds like you are well on your way. I made my One Sheet using Vista Print after studying those of authors I admire. I did a quick Google, and found this really good vlog on creating one. http://ashleyclarkwrites.blogspot.com/2012/07/creating-one-sheet_23.html
Keep us posted on your progress, and remember, God builds the strongest platforms, so follow His lead. A tender and teachable heart that follows God will always experience the greatest success.
Great llist and reminders Anita! THANK YOU!
Thank you, Gillian. Do you have any particular books that have helped you?
Congratulations, Anita on the first book sale! Thanks for the reminders. Love your plucky goal setting & determination!
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