Writers and actors have a lot in common.
They’re both creative professionals who start with nothing and do the best they can to work their way up to their dream careers.
They both also have to, in some form or another, stand up in front of strangers and try to prove, on the spot, they’re worth hiring.
The biggest difference is that, most of the time, writers only do this with words.
Query letters, proposals, cold pitches, contest submissions — no matter how you’re presenting yourself to a potential agent, publisher, editor, or publication on paper — often the first and only thing a stranger judges you by are your words.
From the first email to the sample article to everything in your online portfolio, what you write matters. It basically sums up everything that makes you a writer. And with those words, you’re expected to prove you’re either right for the job/opportunity or you aren’t.
Sure, you may never have to speak to a person face-to-face. But in some cases, that almost makes it harder. If your communication skills aren’t all but polished to the point of obsession, even if you write a great piece, it isn’t always enough.
But I’m not trying to scare you off. Don’t turn and run just because all this sounds like too much pressure. Pressure is a good thing. It motivates us to do our best without second-guessing every move we make, every word we choose.
No one ever said this stuff would be easy.
I know it makes you nervous just thinking about it. I know you wish you could write something perfectly the first time, send it off to someone, and have them accept it right away without question. I know you wish this could happen every time, that you didn’t have to work so hard, that you didn’t have to deal with rejection.
But that’s not how any of this works.
When it comes down to it, success as a writer is all about who can do their best work under pressure. And the only way to get better at that is to practice and submit and keep trying until you make it.
It doesn’t matter how many times you “fail.” As long as you learn something new from each rejection, from each attempt, and do a little better every time.
As long as you keep trying. No matter how hard. No matter how awful it might make you feel sometimes.
I promise you, it’s worth it. Now let me help you get ready for the most important “audition” of your life.
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Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.