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The Phases Of The Writers Life
Over the course of my writing life, I have noticed that other writers and I cycle through a series of steps on our path toward maturity as a writer. When people come to me for coaching, they often do not know where they are on the path and what they need to move forward. Ive identified the phases and given suggestions for the support will best serve at each phase. Of course, I have seen the powerful impact of coaching at each phase, but I have added other means of support that are valuable for the writers journey.
Infancy You get the spark of creation. You are nervous about your inclination to write, not knowing where to get advice, information and support. Sometimes at this phase, people are afraid to even say aloud that they are a writer. Practice saying it at home, with the pets as audience, and see how it feels. Your loved ones may think you are nuts for wanting to write, but you feel more energized than you have in years. This phase also applies to writers who have taken a hiatus from writing and are coming back to honor a long-lost urge.
Best support for this phase: Hire a coach. With the support of a coach, you will be able to recognize that your emotions and challenges are common. A coach will help you harness that enthusiasm into a practice that will get you on a strong,
Childhood You have the exuberance of twenty people when it comes to writing. You want to write everything! You try essays, short stories, poetry, op-ed letters. Your exuberance and desire to learn carries you over any hurdles. You get a lot of practice in writing.
Best support for this phase: Take classes and join groups. This is a great time to be a sponge and absorb all the learning you can. Practice in whatever genre attracts you. This will help determine where your gifts lie and how to best use them.
Teen Years Your exuberance turns to restlessness. You want to see some results publication, pay even! You yearn to narrow your focus and choose a path that will bring your writing dreams to reality.
Best support for this phase: Hire a coach. At this phase, a coach can help remind you of your original spark and motivation for writing. With a coachs questions, youll be able to discover what is important for you and how to focus and commit.
Adulthood The rubber hits the road. You settle into your chosen genre. This may be where you write a novel or a memoir, or really develop your poetry. This is good, and you start to take yourself seriously.
Best support for this phase: Keep learning, with classes, books, online resources. This is a great time to be in a peer group, giving and getting feedback on your work. A group facilitated by a coach is a good idea, as it will help you to deepen your writing practice.
Full Maturity Youve been at it for a decade or two and now realize the magnitude of what it takes to be a writer. This is no work for lightweights. You have publications under your belt and find yourself giving advice to whippersnappers writers. You read with a greater appreciation and realize how amazing good writing really is. You have a long term plan for your career and feel the power of your commitment.
Best support for this phase: Befriend writers who are further along than you. Find a mentor. Work with a coach who can help navigate the emotional swings of success.
BONUS : The Reality Of Publishing Your Book
According to a recent survey, more than eighty percent of Americans want to write a book. This shocking statistic is somewhat puzzling because the National Endowment for the Arts estimates that only fifty-seven percent of Americans have read one book in the last twelve months!
What is it that makes people -- even non-readers -- want to put pen to paper?
Perhaps it's the desire for fame and fortune. Maybe it's the need to earn respect from others. Or maybe it's the hopeful wish to leave some mark on the future, a permanent record of a life lived.
Whatever the reason, for those who actually complete a manuscript, the odds of seeing it published by a reputable book publisher are slim to none.
For the estimated two million manuscripts that authors complete, there are only 64,000 publishers of record, and only a fraction of those publishers actively seek new manuscripts.
So what are the millions of hopeful authors to do?
The first step would be to ensure their manuscripts are the best they can be. This is usually accomplished by re-writing, editing, and proofreading by an outside firm or by a well-read and literate colleague.
Even then, most of those two million books stand no chance of being accepted by a traditional publisher. Authors who do make the cut are not necessarily the best writers, but rather they are writers who can sell themselves and their stories most convincingly.
Some authors, after rejections from the trade, will find themselves victims of vanity publishers, who take advantage of the hopes and aspirations of writers to extract an exorbitant fee to publish their book. Writers are better off publishing through firms like iUniverse and Lulu. Although their books will likely never see wide distribution, at least their losses will be minimal.
Finally, there are the select few who decide to become publishers themselves, even if it is only to self-publish their own book. These self-publishers will find great obstacles, and a great deal of work in this route. The challenge and reward of having one's success or failure entirely in one's own hands is a powerful feeling.
Whether they choose to publish electronically, or use short run printing service like Lightning Source, or even to go full boar with a print run of 1,000 or more, their success depends on how well they sell themselves and their story to others.
There's an age-old debate about which method is better; using a publishing company or self publishing your own book. You know your situation and you know what will work best for you. You'll want to consider how much time or money you have to invest in the project. That should give you an idea as to which route to take. Using a publisher takes less time on your part, but you'll forfeit some of the royalties by using this method. If you self publish, you'll have to pay "up front" and do the initial work to get the ball rolling on sales of your book.
If you are about to embark on a new manuscript, educate yourself thoroughly about the industry, its scams, and potential pitfalls. More importantly, learn to market yourself well, for this, more than any other skill, is the determining factor in your success or failure.