Last night, at our Cape Cod Writers Center Writers Night Out in Hyannis, my dear friend, Christine Merser, was our guest speaker. Christine, owner of Blue Shoe Strategies marketing and the blog at Freesia Lane.com, gave a wonderful presentation on how writers can effectively use social media to get their work in front of your eyes.
The first medium she spoke about was Facebook. One of her first slides cautioned us to stop and think. She went on to say that sometimes we need to “think out of the box” and gave us great examples of people who have done that and how it can relate to writers. I pushed the pause button back at “stop and think”. That small sentence stuck with me and pelted my brain as I drove home. It again entered my mind during yoga this morning. (In fact, I was so lost in thought about that little sentence, that I barely knew I took a yoga class today – I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but that’s another blog.)
Anyway, “stop and think” is the most disregarded and taken for granted tiny sentence. It’s an old cliche and I feel it’s been relegated to the back of the closet, until my friend brought it out last night and held it under the light to be examined. When she said, “When deciding how to market your work, the first thing you have to do is stop and think. Why did you write your book? Who is going to be interested in reading your book?”, lights in my brain began a slow blink.
That’s where I got stuck thinking about that little sentence. How much easier life would be if we applied that to everything we do in our lives. For example:
If you are signing up for yoga:
Why do I want to do yoga?
How it is going to benefit me?
Exactly what do I hope to gain from yoga?
How much better to approach a new activity if we have some goal in mind, some “reason for doing”, other than my friend said I should. Stopping and thinking before plunging into the next new thing provides a sort of clarity that may help us get through any difficulties that are inevitably going to arise in any new endeavor. When we hit a roadblock, or come to a fork in the road, having that goal preset will help us to decide what to do, instead of just sliding our back down the wall and slumping to the floor, thinking why did I ever think I could do this?
In my writing journey, which began three years ago, I flipped and floundered and questioned over and over why I ever thought I could do this. When the whole first year went by, without me ever writing a single word, I know now that if I had my reasons and goals preset, working my way out of that would have been a lot easier. Once I stopped to decide just what is it that I want to write and why do I want to write it, the last two years on this journey unfolded a lot easier. Despite the bumps, roadblocks, and forks in the road, at least I knew what I was trying to do and why I was trying to do it.
I found my voice in writing picture books that will help young children deal with family and social concepts they encounter in their young lives. Books that will inspire them to figure things out, deal with people, and believe they can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. With that clear vision in mind, and the desire to continue helping children through education, I faced the odds of getting published without fear. Though the odds of me winning the lottery are better than me getting published (and if we remember my blog about what God shared about me ever winning the lottery, well..you get the picture), I face those odds and continue to do what it is I know I must do, as clearly delineated in my goals.
And now, for those of you who have walked this writing journey with me through this blog, I am proud to announce that very early this morning I hit the send button and sent my first query letter to a publisher. And that, just pushing that send button, was my goal. All the way through the writing of the book, researching the publishers, educating myself in the writing of the query, getting my work critiqued, the endless rewriting, – in front of me was the picture of my finger pushing that send button. The hours, the disappointments, the hitting of walls, the “I can’t do this” moments, were all conquered much easier with that goal clearly in front of me. I must admit, many times it was the real reason for not quitting.
Notice I didn’t set a goal of getting published. That is a thing I have no control over, even though I did my homework and followed every guideline to the letter. My clear goal was something I could absolutely, positively do, as long I did my due diligence.
If you take anything away from this blog today, take that. Whether it be health, fitness, nutrition, career, education, relationships – whatever it is you’re embarking upon – set a clear goal that you can absolutely reach, by just pausing before beginning your journey to “stop and think”.
And so, as another day goes by, I think a box of pumpkin K cups is a just reward for pushing that send button (did I mention I was obsessed with DD pumpkin coffee and I’m panicking that it will soon be gone?), today marks a milestone in my fledgling writing career, and…… I have written.