What I Learned From Getting Published

My grandmother said to me years ago when I expressed my desire to be a writer that you need to live some life, and have some experiences to be able to write about it! Despite what society may say it’s never too late to go after your dreams, or create new ones.

I recently announced on Instagram my “big news”– I’m being published! I realize that not everyone who reads my blog follows me on Instagram (though you should! 🙂 My IG is like a mini-blog) I am excited to share more about these opportunities soon but in the meantime I wanted to write a post here to share my experience and a few things I have learned along my way.

You’ve Gotta Go For It-

I am not usually one for outlandish resolutions on New Years Eve but I can’t argue against the efficacy of beginning the year with intention. After procrastinating and chickening out of writing publicly for way too long I decided that 2018 would be the year that I would really just go for it. I prayed over my work, made my blog a “.com”, bought a little used Canon, and focused on creating quality content here as well as on social media.

Though it may seem like opportunities abound, writing is a super-competitive field to break into. With no professional accolades attached to my name and teaching myself about blogging along the way it has been a refining and often challenging journey! I still feel like a little guppy fish in an enormous virtual shark pond but, I have learned so much already!

It Takes Time-

Before the year began I searched for opportunities and took note of submission deadlines. Late in January I submitted my first article. I remember feeling surprised at the amount of effort that it took to submit a piece that might not be accepted. It isn’t as if  you can simply write one cool story and send it to everyone who will take it.

Publishers usually have a cohesive vision that they want to present and that they want you to be a part of. So you need to familiarize yourself with other content that they have published and write an original piece to suit their needs. Write to the audience but, don’t lose your voice or integrity. Edit your text, not yourself. Even if it costs you a project.

Each outlet has their own parameters such as subject matter, word count, and target audience. I have run into a few places that will use previously published material but, the majority of sites and magazines are looking for original works. Search-engine savvy sites don’t want SEO affected by duplicate content.

Rejection-

Going into this process I tried not to stress it too much. I figured, I have nothing to lose but time and I felt that the time put toward perusing my passion was certainly worth it. When I inevitably faced rejection I didn’t let it discourage me and scare me away like it may have in the past.

There are a billion reasons that a piece of writing may be denied. Maybe something was missed in the editing process, an article isn’t a good fit, or sometimes it really was crappy and I failed to drive the point home! I try not to take it personally. A good piece of advice I read when researching freelance writing was that if someone emails you to notify you that they passed on your piece, that is good! If they reject it thoughtfully at least they read it, right? Its part of the nature of this art.

It Takes Effort-

Writing takes time, concentration and attention to detail. It’s honestly a miracle that I get anything done at all with household and familial obligations taking up most of my time. Whenever I finish a project I raise my fists in the air and loudly exclaim, “I have accomplished it!!!” LOL. With no home office to hide in I am usually typing at my desk in the living room with Paw Patrol in the background or in my bed nursing and plucking keys one handed over a fussy babe. When I do get a few moments to myself during naps or play it is only a matter of time before a little crying alarm alerts me that my time is up! I often say to my husband, “I’m not going to be a writer if I don’t write!”

But, I have learned to walk away when it is too overwhelming and take care of the things demanding my immediate attention. This results is lots of work off of my cell phone and typing at 2 a.m. when the house is quiet enough to hear myself think. Especially when my goal is publication. Editors can tell when something is rushed or sloppy. If you plan to pursue writing seriously its best to love it because, you are going to be writing a lot! You need to be getting something out of it besides praise or else you will be in for quite a humbling experience!

Revise, Revise, Revise-

While researching blogging I ran into the term “fast blogging”, as opposed to slow blogging I guess, and I absolutely am not a “fast blogger”. I can’t pump out blog after blog just to have something to post. I enjoy writing fun, quick posts but, when it comes to stories or longer reflections a little perfectionist lives in my clumsy, wordy head. With my fact-checking and sentence shuffling the revisions can be seemingly endless. I have gone over and over pieces and edited them to death. One of my stories saw at least 7 drafts before landing on the final to be published.

I’ve learned to grab my ideas as they come because I am always multitasking with 10 tabs open in my mind at a time. I have scraps of stories here, a handful of novel chapters there, random words or scripture notes that I hold on to. I go back to them when the muses aren’t calling and sometimes it helps me along. Everything has potential!

Staying Quiet-

Do you ever get so excited about something you’re doing you can’t wait to tell the world? A lot of the time sharing goals with others can help keep you accountable and motivated. When it comes to my writing I felt the opposite way. The majority of people that I know aren’t aware of my blog.  As it is gaining followers the word is getting out and more people that I know personally are discovering it.  I’m comfortable with it now but starting out I really think it helped not to have the pressure of familiar eyes.

Sometimes it is just easier to write to strangers or the general world than to people you know and who you think have preconceived notions of you or whose opinions you would take to heart. Thought the response and support has been largely positive I know that some criticism or judgement exists out there too. I made my mind up in 2017 that I was going to get published. I didn’t need people telling me that I shouldn’t or couldn’t so I kept quiet as I learned and grew. Now that the fruits of my labor are becoming more public I feel confident enough to share in that joy with those close to me.

Just The Beginning-

Writing is my life-long dream and being published is a fulfillment of that dream. A part of me feels like I could die happy now that this has happened. The other part of me is inspired to get out there even more! After the waiting and the working and the personal growth it took to get to this point I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud! I am going to be on websites that aren’t my own, with my name under a title! I am being asked for head-shots, biographies, interview questions & omigosh- what if they quote me?!

It is flattering and a sharp contrast to the years I spent hiding my writing in my notebooks. I try my best to keep my intentions pure. While getting myself out there is part of reaching people I want to remember to focus on quality of craft. Getting too caught up in numbers and following can become a stumbling block. I want the secondary function of my writing to be inspiring others; the primary function being growing in my relationship with God. After ten months I was notified of both to-be-publications in two days. I know God planned it that way to encourage me to keep going. Though I  sowed my dreams in faith I wasn’t sure what the direction or destination of all my hard work would be. The Lord is making more of it than I expected and I can’t wait to see what else he will do!

Thank You to everyone who follows, supports and reads my work. It means more to me than you will ever know.

❤ Cait

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