I was informed when I began seriously seeking publication a few years ago; becoming an author is a journey.
No one just sits down at their computer or typewriter and spends a week, or a, month, or even a year, pounding out a novel. Oh, you'll spend the time, but It will not be the first, or the last thing you write before you find out what a journey the process of being a committed writer really is.
It was compared to a cross country train trip, beginning in Washington State and ending somewhere on the east coast.
The point where you begin is very clear and defined. Most of us hope were on a bullet train, racing over the landscape in a blur and arriving on The New York Times best seller list. We sleep through, or hope to find, the trek was a blur as we arrive at our destination.
For some authors this is true. For most; it is not. For those who took the journey too quickly, you may discover your luggage ended up in New Orleans instead of New York on this fast forward journey. If you missed critical switch points along the way, who knows where you'll end up..
A switch point on a railway is about three inches of steel. A switch is flipped during the journey and the train in which you're traveling will switch from the path its on to another track. If this is done with care and a committed watch, you will arrive, bags and all, at your destination.
If a switch man is sleeping on the job, or carelessly flipping switches...who knows where you and your luggage will end up. Perhaps in a better place than you planned?
Its possible, but the switch points are important and worth noting.
-developing a thick skin
-finding your voice
-creating a solid habit of writing
-knowing who you can count on in critique partners
and many others.
Easing your way through these points in your journey will slow it down. Perhaps your instincts are so well honed that you can skip some of the points. Don't do it.
Give yourself and your writing the chance to enjoy the scenery, gawk at weird or unfamiliar sites, step off the train and indulge in time away.
Your journey isn't set when you climb aboard. It will travel in paths and rails that your friends have left or skipped over. It will include heartache and disappointment. You will see and hear things you never expected. The destination may seem a million miles away.
The point is to ride, watch your switch points and take advantage of what you're learning. If conferences, or books, or on-line helps take you off track, find another switch point and keep going. You may forget where you were headed in the first place when you find where you've arrived.
In the meantime...keep reading and writing!