Monday, February 13, 2012


On Saturday I had the good fortune to hear a presentation called The Marathoner’s Guide to Writing: Staying in it for the Long-Haul without Losing Your Perspective, your Patience, or your Mind. Two of my favorite authors, Colleen Thompson and Kerrelyn Sparks, talked about what it takes to be successful as a writer over the long haul. These two women have had long, enviable careers but both have overcome some serious setbacks over the years. So what advice hit home with me? 
  • ·         Keep a balance between the needs of the marketplace and the needs of your muse. Unless you enjoy what you’re writing, you won’t stay in the game long-term.
  • ·         Keep criticism in perspective. Some people will love you, some will hate you. Don’t let either have too much influence over you.
  • ·         Honor your own pace and talent. Colleen quoted Joni Rodgers on this one: “You’re an orchard not a factory.”
  • ·         Continually strive for improvement.
  • ·         Don’t be afraid to blaze a new trail.
  • ·         Don’t compare your journey to the careers of other writers. We’re all unique and our paths will be different.
As in any creative field, Kerri pointed out that it often takes years to be “an overnight success.” Talent alone isn’t enough if you don’t do the hard work. The writers who have stuck in the game for the long haul have regrouped and reinvented themselves when their market or publisher tanked—something that happened to both Colleen and Kerri early on. But they didn’t give up no matter how many curves the industry or life threw at them.

Some days it’s hard to keep perspective and keep believing in yourself and your talent. On those days, remember how far you’ve come, the lessons you’ve learned on your journey and the people who have offered you a hand. Keep trying—it doesn’t guarantee you’ll make the New York Times Bestseller list, but you’ll never know if you could if you quit. 

Pat passed this on--a bookish video to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day! Click here. (Sorry I couldn't manage to embed it.)


Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Thanks for sharing the marathoners' advice, Lark. Kerrelyn and Colleen are so smart.

Sarah Andre said...

So sorry to have missed the presentation. I appreciate the bullet points in your blog and as basic as they sound they're so right!

I'm going to print them out to reread on days when it all seems hopeless.

Nancy Kay Bowden said...

Thank you for writing about their chat, Lark! I wish I could have been there. Colleen and Kerrelyn have so much to share... and I love the quote from Joni!

Colleen Thompson said...

It was really interesting gathering this information from so many veteran authors. I'm doing a week-long online "Marathoner's" class with RWA university in June, where I'll get to share in a lot more detail.

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Lark Howard said...

Print, Sarah? I think I need a couple tattooed to the inside of my arm for emergencies!

Lark Howard said...

Wish you could have made it, too, Nancy Kay. We're so lucky to have such brilliant and generous authors in our chapter.

Lark Howard said...

The RWA University class sounds great, Colleen. I'll put it on my calendar.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

Sheila Seabrook said...

Great tips, Lark. I especially like the first one ... to enjoy what you're writing.

Thanks for sharing these!

Lark Howard said...

Glad you enjoyed them, Sheila. Writing is hard enough when you love what you're doing, isn't it?