Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why Shortcuts Aren't a Good Idea

When I first started writing, I was looking for a way to stand out of the massive crowd of people doing the same thing I was--trying to get their work in front of the right people. And while my intents were good, they weren't coming from the right place. I wasn't focusing on the work itself--but what the work would do for me once I found a way to stand out. A shortcut to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, if you will.

Here's a real-life demonstration of why this doesn't work. Yesterday, I was about to direct my car into a turn lane. But then I saw a car coming the other direction, migrating over the double-line and using the turn lane to pass cars on the other side of the road.

He probably thought this might get him to his destination faster. But, not only did it make the road more dangerous for other drivers (including himself), it made him look like a jack-ass. This is what happens when you try to take shortcuts--more often that not, it puts you at unnecessary risk, looking silly in front of the people that matter.

It's why pitching at conferences without a ready manuscript (ready as in revised, spit on, shined, revised again, rewritten, revised, spit on, shined, and revised yet again) is akin to blowing your wad. There's even evidence that pitch sessions may not be all they're cracked up to be.

Similarly, when people ask "shortcut" or "magic bullet" or "Dumbo feather" questions at conferences, it drives me a bit batty. Even though I used to be that person. Because. There. Is No. Magic. Bullet. Period. You have to love the writing itself--not what you think it can do for you (aside from the immediate gratification of creating something beautiful). The below video from author John Green further demonstrates this:

So. It's the work that needs to stand out. Just keep writing. And reading. And spitting on those manuscripts until they shine. And when things don't go as planned, you can always refer back to this.

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