Doing the work

On any given day, a couple of people write to me about what they’re working on and when I express interest, they promise a proposal or sample chapters that never hit my inbox.  I’ve already written about these “pre-queries” (main message: don’t do them), and won’t repeat myself here, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  I know that one of the reasons writers do this is to be sure there’s interest in their idea before they go to the work of putting together a proposal or polishing those manuscript pages, and while I think that’s not the best plan you ever had, I can understand it.


But I also think a lot of people discover they aren’t interested in doing the work.  They think they are, but when it comes time to put their butts into their chairs and get to it, there’s always something else they’d rather do.  They want to have published a book, in other words, but they don’t want to have to sit down and write it.  They want to “be” book authors, but they don’t want to do the work involved.  It is a lot of work, with no guarantee of reward, and I, for one, wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t bother.  I’m not being sarcastic when I say that you know what?  You don’t have to write a book, any book, ever.  You just don’t.  Give yourself permission to do something else instead.  You’ll save yourself (and other people) a lot of frustration if you give yourself permission to not write that book.


Here’s the thing about work: it’s work.  We’ve all had the experience of feeling inspired, when the words just flow from our pens (or keyboards) and form into sentences and paragraphs on the page without a lot of input from our conscious selves.  But those moments are few and far between, and you have to hook them together with a lot of sweat and time and effort.


Doing the work means writing that crappy first draft, and revising it until you can say, “Well, it’s not as crappy as it was.”  Then twiddling with that until it becomes largely competent.  Then revising that until it becomes downright mediocre.  At some point it will reach the dazzling heights of pretty darned good, and you’re still not done.


So, yeah, doing the work is a lot of work.  Go get started.  I’ll be here when you get back.