Most writers make a huge mistake. This mistake holds them back from accomplishing their writing goals, but still they make it every day, every time they sit down to write, every time they finish a book and try to get it published. What is it?
They try to do it all on their own.
Most writers think that writing is a solo business, that you’re supposed to write alone, read alone, edit alone, submit to publishers alone, and finally, if your work is accepted as the genius that it is, get published alone.
Except that’s not really how the world works, even the writing world.
Great writing creates a deep connection with others. But you can’t connect if you’re afraid. (Tweet that?)
(By the way, at the end of this post, I’m going to challenge you to do something really fun to connect!)
When you look at the best writers, the Brontes, the Hemingways, the Tolkiens, they never did it alone. Their successes, even their creativity, didn’t come solely from themselves. It took other people, a community, a Cartel.
Well, what about Emily Dickinson, you might ask? She was a great writer, and didn’t she live as a recluse? The truth is she still cared about connection. Just read her letters.
Waiting to Get Rescued
A few days ago, I was talking with a friend who was afraid of launching her dream business. She knew it was the right thing to do, but fear was holding her back. She still dreamt about it, but she had started looking for a backup plan, a safe, easy job where she could get paid a good salary and tread water.
In other words, she wanted to be rescued.
It struck me that this is like most writers I know. Because there’s one situation where writers don’t want to do it all on their own. Most writers want publishers. They envision publishers as rescuers, white knights who will pull their writing out of the darkness, do all the hard marketing work for them, and make them famous authors.
The hard truth is that a publisher is not going to rescue you. Publishers just aren’t in the rescuing business (not to mention that many publishers today could use a rescuer of their own). They’re in the business of making money.
Instead, more writers need to be less focus on being rescued and more focused on rescuing other writers. Are you coming along anyone else and partnering with them? You want other people to help you. Are you helping others?
Becoming Your Own White Knight
This is my story. I spent a long time writing on my own, trying to make it on my own “genius.” It took a long time to learn that I wasn’t talented enough to do it on my own. I needed help. But as I looked around, there was no one who wanted to help me.
And so I decided I was going to start helping others, even if I didn’t know what I was doing. I started this blog. At first, only a few people showed up, and I shared everything I knew that I thought would benefit them (which at the time wasn’t much).
Eventually, though, it worked out. The blog grew, and this community rallied around me when I needed help writing a book of my own.
Finding a Cartel
We need to stop trying to do it all on our own. Instead, we need to start creating our Cartels, our own community that inspires, critiques, and promotes our writing.
The crazy thing is that this idea isn’t new. It’s not particularly unique. It’s actually what almost all of the best writers and storytellers through history have done.
But it is different from how most writers think today (at least, it was for me). And that’s why I’m so passionate about talking about it.
- Katie Hamer (An Exciting Opportunity to Join a Writing Community)
- D.A. Lobel (How I Learned to Share My Stories)
- Ryan Eidson (Why You Should Check Out the Story Cartel Course for Writers)
- Lisa Peers
- Valerie OBrien
Are you still trying to do it on your own?
Today, let’s prove this concept by making another writer’s day. Let’s rally around a writer in our community who needs help with something.
Who’s the “target”?
Let me introduce you to Stef Gonzaga. Stef won our scholarship and is now the newest member of the Story Cartel Course. She doesn’t know we’re doing this, but let’s do something to make her day. Here are a few ideas:
- She recently finished her first book. Leave a comment of congratulations.
- Sign up for her email list (I did!)
- Download her new book (it’s free) and share it with your friends
- Follow her on Twitter (@stefgonzaga) and send her a shout out
What does it feel like to help another writer like this? Close your eyes and visualize that feeling as a person. What do you see? That’s what it looks like to be part of a Cartel.