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The Writer's Submission Process: Finding Balance

For the last three Tuesdays, I’ve been blogging about the approaches authors take when they submit their work. I’ve written about 4 “types” of authors.

  1. The Humble Offerer: sees submission as an offering to the gods—shattered when those gods strike him down. 
  2. The Great Benefactor: sees submission as a bestowing of her genius to the grateful masses—infuriated when others don’t see that supposed greatness. 
  3. The Contributor: finds a single niche and stays there gaining publications but lacking growth. 
  4. The Scatter-Shooter: sends out as much material to as many venues as possible, focusing on quantity rather than quality.

The first two types have to do with the writer’s feelings about his work vis-à-vis the market place. The second two have to do with the writer’s understanding of how to market herself.

Obviously, we’re all mixtures. And yet, for most of us one type or another dominates. Many writers find their dominant type changing over time. With the exception of the Contributor, I’ve been all of these writers at different points in my writing life.

So what do we do with this jumble? How do we balance the types? Are there any we should eliminate from our repertoire entirely? Or should we have them all equally poised?

It’s important to realize that, while each of these types presents hindrances to a successful writing life, each of them also comes with some blessings. To best serve ourselves and our writing lives, we need to draw from the blessings of each type, while cutting away the hindrances. Let’s look at them again:

The Humble Offerer:

Hindrances: Feels vulnerable. Easily hurt and shamed by rejection. Often has trouble sending stuff out once it’s been turned down a few times.

Blessings: Knows that achieving success in the writing life is hard. Doesn’t expect quick results. Is willing to learn.

The Great Bestower:

Hindrances: Thinks he’s such a great writer already that there’s nothing to learn from others.

Blessings: Has confidence and a strong sense of herself.

The Contributor:

Hindrances: Doesn’t experiment or grow. Unwilling to face the challenge of a new market.

Blessings: Knows a market inside and out.

The Scatter-Shooter:

Hindrances: Lack of focus. Rushes work out, rather than honing.

Blessings: Gets stuff out. Works quickly. Willing to be adventurous.

So put these blessings together, and what do you have?

  • The humility to grow and learn.
  • The confidence to put your work out in the world. 
  • The focus to learn your market. 
  • The adventurousness to try new markets and genres.

It’s not as easy as all that, of course. Who we are as a writer is tied in with who we are spiritually, and that is something that goes deep. If you’re a Humble Offerer or Great Benefactor to the core, you can’t just shut that off. But you can learn to bypass the hindrances of your “type” and grow the blessings of another.

The first step—the one I’ve been trying to set into motion in these posts—is awareness. Find out which type you are. Identify the blessings and hindrances of that type. Work from there.

To help you identify your mixture of types, bring out the blessings and cut away the hindrances, to to my blog at writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com, click “follow", and I’ll send you my supplemental questionnaires and exercises.