The journey to publication is filled with obstacles and detours. At each turn a writer is forced into making a decision that determines their next step. That choice may seem insignificant at the time, but later on its consequences can be irreversible.
Unfortunately, the lack of experience can be a costly influence in making that decision. So much so, that a writer constantly turns to those with more experience for guidance. Their search will lead them to publishing professionals, online forums, fellow writers, advice websites, and social media. But this can serve to confuse the writer even further with a string of conflicting opinions on what they should do next.
All the while, their future hangs in the balance. Will the next decision take them an extensive detour towards their goal? With an inability to predict or compare to others, a writer can be frozen by fear. This is where the danger begins. Such is their fear of failure and rejection, that they are trapped in indecision. This hesitation is the most damaging pause in a writer's prospective career. It can be fatal to their dream.
This is because when their indecision has been prolonged the writer will make a decision to rewrite. Not just one draft, or several, but indefinitely. At first they had no intention of the rewrite being so lengthy. But as the years go by, the manuscript becomes something they dabble in, rather than focus on to achieve their goal.
Their fear of rejection, or in some cases their fear of change, has transformed their writing into a hobby, instead of a profession.
Where before they had a zest for chasing a dream, it has been replaced with a calmness that time is always on their side. That is a grave mistake. Time is on no one's side. It waits for no one. While the writer works intermittently on their manuscript, time leaves them behind. The writer's reflection in the mirror changes. Their view of the world changes. Hence their manuscript becomes muddled, without having the same central voice as before. The writer has allowed time to hinder their work. More importantly, they have allowed time to immobilise their dream.
Consequently, friends and colleagues gradually stop asking about how their book is coming along. Instead of showing interest in the writer, they begin to think the book is a sore subject. One not to be mentioned, for fear of upsetting the writer.
The very mention of their dream makes them wince. It reminds them just how long they have been chasing it and how much of life has passed them by in the process.
Some of their friends may even jest about it at social gatherings, as if the writer has wasted their life instead of choosing a path similar to them instead. With either occurrence, the writer is constantly reminded of the decision they took. What they initially considered as a career defining moment, is now a regret. The burden sits on their shoulder and has an impact on every subsequent decision.
By removing targets and deadlines from their writing, the writer can never achieve their dream of sustaining a long career as an author.
A profession without deadlines, removes the ferocity of focus.
The writer will remain just that, a writer, never an author. While they waste their life on endless rewrites, their contemporaries with strict deadlines, continue to land literary agents and publishing deals. As with time, publishing does not wait for them to finish. If they cannot demonstrate a strict adherence to deadlines from the start, how can any publishing professional trust them with the deadlines of a publishing contract? Especially in light of the thousands of submissions they receive from writers who have not chosen this path.
Choosing to lift the shackles off their writing schedule indefinitely is not the path to publication. It is not a detour. It is the road to nowhere.