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How to Get Published: What Writers Can Learn From Toddlers

How to Get Published: What Writers Can Learn from ToddlersWhen it comes to writing, there’s a lot to be gleaned from toddlers learning to walk.  Have you noticed they don’t seem to care that they’ll fall?  Again and again, they launch out on wobbly legs, their faces set in determined lines. Driven by an inner purpose, they never stop to question whether they should be walking, and no one can tell them to stop trying. Once they begin learning to walk, there’s no going back.

If I’d paid more attention to toddlers, I’d probably have found my way into print much sooner.

Looking back, I can see that certain steps led to my signing with an agent and contracting with Harbourlight for publication of DawnSinger and WayFarer, the first two books of the epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven. It seems so obvious a path, in retrospect, but at the time I traveled it I couldn’t always see where it led. Some of the steps even seemed to lead away from my destination as a published, agented author, but all were necessary.

  1. My dream died.  I had grandiose ideas of what it would mean to be a published author. It didn’t matter who my audience was; they existed for me. When I lost what would be my first nonfiction book contract due to a problem within the publishing house, I gave up my dream in discouragement.
  2. Self-discipline became my focus. As a Christian, I follow the Bible which teaches that self-control is one of the qualities that leads to a fruitful life. Establishing a good work ethic paved the way for the sacrifice writing success demands.
  3. I stopped obsessing over getting published. I took up a long-abandoned project (DawnSinger). Publication no longer mattered as much as telling the story that had been trapped inside my mind for far too long. That shift in focus gave me the patience I needed to complete and polish my novel.
  4. I joined a local writing group. If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have gained the support and self-confidence that saw me through the submission process. I also met friends who would later pull me through a dark time.
  5. I learned to invest in others. As an antidote to the self-absorbed writing career I’d at first sought, I decided to help other writers put the word out about their novels. That was my main goal for promoting other writers, but it netted me favor that helped me when my own book released. It also helped build my platform and taught me how to promote.
  6. I surrendered my dream. When another contract fell through, I was left for the second time with a shattered dream.  Because I had already released my own ideas of publication, this loss hurt but didn’t crush me.
  7. I stepped up when things looked darkest.  I rallied and submitted DawnSinger to Harbourlight, the publisher that just three months later offered me a contract.  Had I given up in discouragement when my previous contract ended, I’d have missed both publication and signing with the agent who agreed to represent me.

It would be easier if I could give you a formula that would produce results, but writers find their way in the publishing maze in a variety of unique ways. Just remember not to think about falling, and each time you fall, stand up again.

Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

© Janalyn Voigt
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I’m Janalyn Voigt, an author, speaker, and former social media mentor. DawnSinger and Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, released with Pelican Book Group and will be followed by at least two more installments. I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel set in an Irish castle, but then historical fiction has a grip on me too. Being unabashedly multi-genre makes me into what some might term a reluctant rebel, but I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

20 thoughts on “How to Get Published: What Writers Can Learn From Toddlers”

  1. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if
    you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my
    newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    1. Claudette, you can find a widget for that via the lowest box in the left on your Twitter home page. Click Businesses, and then under Optimize Your Activity, select Resources and Widgets. You should be able to take it from there.

  2. Pick ourselves up, that’s such great advice for those tackling the difficult job of writing.

    What would I add? Truly trust God with everything — inspiration on what to write, who to invest your talents with, and the platform to reach others with the words.

  3. “What can (I) add that might help other writers?” Don’t let your fears or someone else’s opinion stop you from pursuing the dream that God has given you. “Do it afraid,” if that’s what it takes! The emotion of fear just serves to remind me just how much I need God to pursue a God-size dream.

    I especially like this point that you made, Janalyn: “I stopped obsessing over getting published … Publication no longer mattered as much as tell the story the story that had been trapped inside my mind for far too long. That shift in focus gave me the patience I needed to complete and polish my novel.”

    What’s really important is keeping our eyes on the Story-giver, right? “And if you (write) it, (He) will come” (Field of Dreams).

  4. Thank you for reminding me that part of writing is picking myself up when I fall or fail to meet my goals. Have a blessed day, and looking forward to reading your book. Hope I win, but I’m adding the title to my book wishlist.

    HM at HVC dot RR dot COM

  5. Great post!

    I try to help others in their writing pursuits by being a good literary citizen. I tweet about their work, encourage them, respond on blogs, and cheer lead.

    Who couldn’t use a good cheerleader?

  6. Okay, where are you hiding in my house? Very well put, and nicely said. Thanks for posting your thoughts on being published – and the difficult times that come along with it. I’m in the ‘no word yet on agent, so might as well edit and work on my projects’ stage. It’s nice to know I’m not the only owned who has gone through or is going through something like this.

    Something that might help other writers? Prayer. I’ve found that if I try to write without praying over e project first, it’s a difficult journey. Now, I pray over each aspect of writing. The craft, the style, and the ability.

  7. Helping others on their journey… Let’s see… I pray for them (they don’t necessarily need to know.) I lend them some of my old writing books. No use just keeping them on the shelf, right?

  8. What can I offer other writers to help them along on this journey? In a word… ENCOURAGEMENT. Too many people feel they have a book in them, but don’t follow through on actually writing it out. The first step in writing a book is actually writing it. Whenever I come across somebody who’s written something I do my best to pat them on the back, even if the plot doesn’t work, or half of the words are incorrect. At least they took that very difficult first step and wrote it. BRAVO to them!

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