Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Focus on the Writing

In a writing group this weekend, a colleague of mine said something mind-blowing.

He basically commented how it's so easy to get wrapped up in publishing talk, marketing talk, social media and blog talk, book cover design talk, agent talk, and other industry chatter that we forget to focus on the real reason we're doing all that talking.

His point hit me squarely in the jaw.

K-O, baby.

Focus on the writing.

It's the reason we're doing any of this. The blogging, the tweeting, the query letters, the short story submissions, the writing conferences...we're doing all of it because we love writing. We stress over self-pub vs. the Big Six and Kindle book price points; we stew over rejections and failed pitches. We remind ourselves how two billion publishers rejected J.K. Rowling before her books became THE BEST THING EVER. We forage for Twitter and Facebook followers and hope for retweets that grow our potential readership.

In all of that, something is lost.

Focus on the writing.

I'm guilty of it. I've spent hours upon hours looking up places to submit my work, making revisions based solely on submission formats, and creating elevator pitches and query letters. These are important things, but they kept me from putting the focus where it needs to be. Yep, you guessed: on the writing.

So the next time your writing group starts talking about query letters or agent pitches or any of those things, be my colleague from this weekend. Start reading your work aloud, take your finely-crafted prose and polish it even more. Ultimately, all the pitches and querying in the world won't matter if you're offering an inferior product.

Focus on the writing.