When I first came up with my latest WIP, CONJOINED, I had no idea it was going to be a novel. I entered a short story contest back in January of this year, where the host gives each contestant the genre, a character, and a location, and off you go, writing away for up to 2500 words. I drew thriller, a caretaker, and a canceled flight. Of course, I created a sadistic serial killer who happens to work as a caretaker. That’s where my mind, as a writer, goes, instinctively. He accidentally hits a woman with his truck days before he is set to leave the country for Uzbekistan (no extradition treaty). I like to write a little humor in everything I do, so the serial killer has a quirky personality and works for a Hollywood production studio taking care of a defunct TV Set in Vancouver, BC.

I submitted it to the contest and then forgot about it until I received feedback from the judges. They loved my setting and crazy caretaker guy and how I ramped up the suspense with the victim because she wasn’t exactly dead when he disposed of her. Sound creepy?

Well, they thought so, and the more I considered the characters, the more I discovered a connection and a larger story. That same day, I found an advertisement for Writer Workshops of Chicago, my hometown, set for June. I thought it must be a sign from the universe and immediately registered for it. Then, I got to work writing a 50-chapter outline and subsequent chapters.

The Conference

The week leading up to the Saturday conference, I was completely stressed.  I had a finished manuscript of just under 100k words and had a couple of first readers breeze through it, but I had no time to do any kind of editing or processing of their feedback. I had signed up for two pitch sessions with agents, where you are face-to-face talking about your work, yet I felt like I wasn’t ready.

That’s when I heard the voice of my favorite life coach, Marie Forleo, say, “It’s about progress, not perfection.” She’s really great like that…jumping into my head when I need her. BTW, I’m positive she doesn’t know that she does that. So, with progress as my intent, I went to my conference with a pitch letter in hand and hope in my heart. This is what I learned:

(1) Jump Before You Are Ready.

It doesn’t matter the outcome of my pitches. It was the fact that I took action toward my goal. I’ve heard so many times, even from writers at the conference, that becoming an author is so daunting that it’s too overwhelming. That makes me sad because they might have a book in them that the world needs to read! Don’t worry about the outcome. Focus on that one baby step in front of you. By putting yourself out there, you are opening doors you couldn’t see from where you were before taking that step.

(2) Being A Writer Is Hard!

Yep, there is no doubt about it: getting into the mindset of a writer to become an author is hard work.  I know there are people out there that make it seem effortless. But every story I’ve heard from those who have ‘made it’ tells about adversity, disappointment, and failure. Yes, failure. Everyone fails. Even the Big Dogs. The difference between them and us? They let those negative things propel them to the next step. Some did it out of defiance, “I’ll show them!” While others did it out of perseverance. Still, others did it because they knew that it was their life’s purpose to get their story told.  And that leads me to number three.

(3) Have A Purpose.

Don’t set out to write a book because you want to make millions, or see it become a movie, or show that bully in school that you would be someone someday. Follow your writer’s dream because there is a true meaning behind your message. Now, some of you are surely laughing at me because as Thriller/Mystery/Suspense, what message could I possibly be sending other than people mysteriously disappearing or dying in some gruesome way? Those things are what pull a reader in, but not my sole message. It’s about embracing my own life’s purpose of allowing people to dream, to escape from their reality for a little while, to have a little downtime from the pressures of human life, and ultimately to share a little in the human experience. I believe humanity has been on a recent trend of forgetting that we are all in this thing together, regardless of race or any other difference we have. We are bound together as beings, and if one of my stories can elicit a reminder of that in one person, then I’ve completed my purpose as a writer.

(4) Praise And Pursue. 

When you see others doing what you want to do and have success doing it, let that be a sign to you that you, too, can have success. Praise them for what they’ve been able to achieve, and then let that motivate you to Pursue it, too!  I know it’s hard. As an aspiring author and struggling writer, it seems as though everyone has published a book. Just look at the size of your local bookstore!  The market seems saturated. Yet, the demand for reading material has never been higher. Even if it has been done before, no one can do it like you. Chase your goal. It’s attainable.

(5) There Is Always Work To Be Done.

This is a big one. But it circles back to #1: progress, not perfection. In writing, or in any kind of job for that matter, there is genuinely nothing called perfection. What one person might call flawless, another sees fault. Life is subjective. Don’t let feedback hurt you. Take it and shine it on your work, on yourself, and see if there is a note of truth in it. Then, shake off that negativity about imperfection and get back to work. Make progress and try again. Join a group and learn your craft. This applies to any interest! Nearly everything has a system or structure behind the thing you are trying to accomplish. Find it, understand it, and let it be your guide. Find others who have reached a wrung higher than you are in your quest, and ask them for help. Mentors, groups, and subject matter experts are all there to lend a hand. And when they offer it, be sure to have an open heart and mind to recognize it and take advantage of it. We are all in this thing called life together.  Let’s live it!


© K.T. George 2017 | This post was first seen on ktgeorge.com


I’d love to keep you updated with the latest news and offers 😎

I don’t spam! Read my [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

5 Things I Learned At My First Writer Conference
Tagged on:                                         

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.