There’s plenty of advice out there on how to prepare your work for submitting, but what if, like me, your problem with submitting—is you!
Do any of these statements apply to you?
- · You have completed work ready to send out that hasn’t been submitted ever.
- · Many of your completed pieces have been waiting to go out for years.
- · You have several projects that are “almost ready” to send out.
- · You have pieces that you sent out once, had rejected and never submitted again.
“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”
You likely already know that the prime reason for not sending your stuff out is fear:
- · of rejection (I‘m not as good a writer as I thought I was)
- · of success (now I’ll have to do it again)
- · of someone stealing my ideas (lack of trust of new people or situations)
- · of facing the reaction of readers (don’t like to be judged)
- . of rewrites and edits (what if I can’t do what they want)
What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.
― David Bayles, Art and Fear
Like eating well and exercising, you know what to do and why you should do it, but you can’t bring yourself to do so. So here are a few ideas to help you over that hump:
1. Join the club
We can’t control fears and feelings. Likely they are deep-rooted in our psyche. But we can find ways to move forward despite the fear.
Accept that pretty much every writer has these fears at one time or another. The trick is to accept it as part of the writing process. Embrace it and face it.
You will get rejected. It’s a given. But you will survive. You will live to write another day.
2. Let go
Ironically, the greatest feelings of self-doubt seem to come at the moment when the task is almost done. You want it to be perfect; the pressure to finish increases, and the knowledge that you will have to put it out there sits menacingly on your shoulder. But there comes a time when you must fight self-doubt and have faith in what you’ve created. You must let go.
If you don’t? What happens? Nothing. Your writing stays in the drawer. You beat yourself up for not moving forward. Nothing gets resolved.
3. Trust the Process
Fear focuses on unknown results of possible action. You can’t control unknown and possible. You can control process—and action. So start on the process of submitting; create a forward motion as a way to outwit, outrun, outsmart fear.
It’s hard, sure, but it’s the writing life. You can either face it or not. You can trust the process or live in fear. Your choice. The solution in your hands.
4. Get started!
- · Set yourself a target date to have just ONE piece sent out.
Writers live by deadlines, so harness that attitude to help you submit. Make yourself publicly accountable—tell your writing buddy, your critique group, anyone who will call you on it.
- · Break the process down into actionable tasks.
Submitting your work can feel overwhelming. But like any process, breaking things down into bite-size actionable pieces helps you to get started so that once begun, the task takes on a momentum of its own.
Try making a list for each stage of the process (which you can use again and again), and then tackle just one item on the list at a time. Tell yourself you only have to do one thing on the list. Chances are, once you get started, you’ll do a lot more. And each action you take will build your confidence. Focus on the idea that each small item is doable.
5. Don’t Stop!
By the sheer law of averages, the more submissions you make, the more publishing success you will likely have. Think of rejections as “acknowledgments” that you are doing what real writers do. You are submitting!
A good place to start is writing contests. Join Ruth E. Walker and Dorothea Helms in May for their popular workshop Write to Win.
If you want to start the process now, make a public commitment in the comments below to a date to have ONE submission completed. We’ll follow up and see how you did.