I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon in my writing life. Every time I take action to land more assignments, things do happen, but somewhere completely different than where I intended. For example, I recently completed a course on feature writing for adult publications. I had barely started pitching magazines when an educational publisher approached me to write a nonfiction children’s book. That was not in the plan at all—at least not this one.
I’m sure I must have mentioned this before, but I love making plans. They give me direction, a clear path to follow, and a feeling of safety and control. But I often wonder why I bother when the opportunities that show up never seem to be linked to my current plans.
I suspect it’s largely due to the fact that the publishing industry tends to move very slowly. Getting any kind of response can take weeks if not months. But like most writers, I can’t afford to twiddle my thumbs until replies come in. I have bills to pay, stories I want to tell, new skills I wish to learn… and did I mention the bills? So I’m always in motion, constantly writing, learning, and reaching out to editors.
And because these two worlds don’t work in sync, I end up being offered a book contract from a children’s publisher I sent a letter of introduction to over two years ago instead of jumping into features for adult magazines.
Am I upset? Of course not. While I play it cool, I’m actually jumping and screaming for joy on the inside! Still, I sometimes wish my plans would work out the way they were supposed to. You wouldn’t believe how beautiful they look on paper.
I think that the lesson here is this: If you want to write and get published, don’t be a control freak. Go ahead and make plans. They’re still important because they’ll get you to take action. Had I not followed through on my plan to contact educational publishers a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t be writing a book right now. But be willing to adjust the plan, put it on hold, or toss it out the window when great opportunities show up.
And who knows, the editors I did manage to contact after my features writing course might answer me six months from now just as I finish another beautiful plan that’s completely unrelated to features. Again, I will be flummoxed by the strange timing, but you know what? I’ll be totally cool about it, and yes, totally jumping for joy on the inside, too!
Now back to my book and my comfy socks…