For All the Do-It-Yourselfers…

by Tameka Brown

… of the literary kind, I recommend you reconsider your position—especially if you are at the beginning of your writing journey, specifically if your goal is publication.

In other areas of my life, I’m pretty much a loner and not one to reach out for help very often.  Yes, this causes me major stress at times, but in the end, I always seem to accomplish what I set out to do.  If I had stuck with my hermit-like ways in my quest to one day see my work in print, however, I would not be anywhere NEAR where I currently am in the process: a few months away from the release of my very first picture book!

Reaching out to others is critical for a variety of reasons:

 One–none of us is objective enough when it comes to examining our own work, just as no parent is ever totally objective when it comes to his or her child. We’re simply too close to our beloved creation to see all of its flaws. 

Two–learning from others in the field can also help you hone your skills more quickly than merely reading craft books (although that is very important). 

And three–surrounding yourself with similarly impassioned individuals allows you to tap into a continuous source of encouragement that will help brace your spirit in the face of this sometimes harsh, and often rejection-laden industry…that is, until the day that you finally receive your “yes”.  Then they’ll throw you a party—complete with tiara and some fattening delight. Laced with chocolate. (Mudskippers Rock!)  

Human help in the writing world is available to you in a plethora of ways—many of which are accessible online:

  • There are free online communities that generously share information about writing and the publishing industry.
  • You can invest in yourself by hiring a professional editor and/or critique service to give you an insider evaluation of the strength of your manuscript.
  • You can join a critique group—online, face-to-face, or both—where you can get honest feedback from a group of individuals with the same aspirations as you.  Or you may choose to have only one or two critique partners with whom you can share your work.
  • There are workshops, conferences and writing retreats galore to help you retool and refuel, so you can be steadfast and stay in the fight for as long as it takes. These are also the places where you can pick up experienced, industry mentors and cheerleaders, folks who have the power to help propel your dream to reality.

Can you do it on your own? Perhaps. But it WILL take you longer, and it won’t be as fulfilling a journey…nor anywhere near as much fun.  Learning to reach out to others has worked for me.  Maybe it will work for you, too.


7 thoughts on “For All the Do-It-Yourselfers…

  1. Great post, Tee!

    Being part of a critique group that you can grow with is essential. If we want to grow, we need to encourage one another and be honest with ourselves and our critique partners about our work. That is one thing I do love about the Mudskippers. We share our honest opinions and critiques, but still do it in the spirit of generosity and genuine care for one another.

  2. Your blog looks great! And I agree, we work best when we have support from other writers. I know that I depend on it all the time. And is it true that if you’re a Mudskipper once, you’re a Mudskipper for life?

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