I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sharpening My Ax

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Lisa Jordan: While searching for quote for an article I'm writing, I came across this one from Abraham Lincoln: 

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, 
I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax.  

When I read this, the first thing that popped into my head was a writer honing her craft.

I've dabbled in writing since I was sixteen. Life had a way of filtering into my dreams of publication. As I look back, I realize God was giving me life experience to incorporate into my novels.

I've been writing seriously for the past decade, slowly honing my craft...or sharpening my ax. Honing my craft isn't limited to writing the best possible story. It also involves learning more about the publishing industry and hearing what agents and editors want. Sharpening my ax may necessitate some expenses such as writing books, online workshops, writing conferences or retreats. 

I met with an agent at a writer's conference who told me she didn't like to hear a writer say she had been writing only a year or so before pursuing publication. That agent wanted to see writers who took the time to sharpen their axes--learn the craft, get a feel for what publishing houses wanted, understand the sting of rejection.

Sometimes people want something so badly, they rush into a situation without being prepared. There's a reason they keep getting those rejection letters. Yeah, they hurt, but editors and agents are looking for great writing, not mediocre.

Even though it can be frustrating and discouraging, take the time to sharpen your ax. You'll be rewarded when it's time to cut down your tree.

Your Turn: How long have you been writing? How long did it take you to receive your first contract? Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you started?

15 comments:

  1. Hi Lisa,
    What a great post. I re-discovered a long lost dream of wanting to write a few years ago. I decided to learn from the best, so I attended a conference by Susan Warren and have been learning every since. While I know I'm not ready to pitch, I've enjoyed the journey of learning --- just really wish I had more time to devote to it!

    Blessings!

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    1. Alena, I'm loving watch you grow during your ax-sharpening journey. You have the necessary passion to keep going, even when things are tough.

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  2. I am so very grateful God led me to MBT very early on in my writing pursuits. I think the wisdom Susie and Rachel and others passed down kept me from submitting things too early or making too many rookie mistakes.

    One thing I would change would be to have developed a steady self-discipline earlier...I struggle to balance writing time with my day job and blogging and some semblance of a social life. I hear from other authors who have figured out how to hit awesome word counts on a daily basis. It's something I'm still working on. :)

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    1. Melissa, self-discipline is my struggle too...and finding balance between the day job, marketing, family, writing, other responsibilities. Consider scheduling writing appointments with yourself to stay more focused.

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  3. I've been writing since I can remember, but kind of gave up the dream of writing novels. I still went to school for journalism and then English, so I was being trained and honing my skills for novel writing without even knowing it. I love that God knew, though.

    One thing I'd change is all the worrying I've done about the writing journey and not being able to move quickly enough. God has His timing, and that's right. I need to remember that.

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    1. LindsAy, writing is a slow-moving profession, but like anything of quality, it does take time...and patience. I remember trying to rush God only to fall on my face. When He felt the time was right, He opened those doors for me. I'm so thankful for His timing and not mine.

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  4. I'm still sharpening my ax and waiting for publication, which is discouraging at times. But I know God's timing is perfect and I wouldn't have been able to handle the stress of a writer's life before now. I'm working on discipline, so I'm actually chopping those trees daily.

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    1. Roxanne, I've had those periods of discouragement. Looking back, I realized when I wanted to be published, I wasn't ready. Tree chopping continues after publication too--there's always something new to learn.

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  5. I've been writing for two years, but secretly dreaming about it for thirty. When God gave me the story to write, I began writing. Going to MBT retreats has helped me so much! I struggle with wanting to be a fast learner and know how to incorporate all I've learned the first time. But, I'm a slow learner, and God is teaching me to be okay with that.

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    1. Jeanne, the MBT retreats changed my writing for the better. Enjoy the journey and stop struggling with wanting to be faster...every part of this writing experience is helping you grow. You have wonderful abilities God is honing within you.

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  6. I've been writing a lonnnng time, even published in short fiction...but only in the past 3 or 4 years have I really learned how to write. That's after I met Susie and Rachel and My Book Therapy and all the Ponderers and hooked up with a great critique group. Since then I've gotten an agent and won a couple of really nice contests and finaled in this year's Genesis.

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    1. Pat, you're on fire lately! Pretty soon we'll be celebrating your first book contract!!

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  7. Lisa, very encouraging & thanks for being instant in or out of season. Very appreciated. See you SOON!

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  8. Lisa, very encouraging & thanks for being instant in or out of season. Very appreciated. See you SOON!

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  9. Hi Lisa,
    I have no idea when I started writing. I started a couple of times, and then life slammed us. One time it was all I could do to let God heal my wounds and not turn bitter.
    Finally at 49, I decided I was running out of time to live my dream as a writer. So I dug out all my writing books, rejoined ACFW and studied really hard the last two years.
    I'm heading to my first conference next week and hope to learn so much more.
    I hope to meet you then.
    Thanks for reminding us it's a process.

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