Every writer should aim for excellence
While this seems too high, you can reach the level of excellence by three steps: rejections, criticism, and persistence. They come in that order. If you take each step one after the other as they come, you will join the ranks of professional writers.
Study each until you have learned its lesson. It has one! Learn it before you leave it. The rejection is the criticism of the final judge and the verdict is “wanting.” It is for you to discover the defect. This will be your most valuable experience. If the story had been accepted, you would never have gained it.
The honest, skilled critic who points out the faults of your work so plainly that you can see them yourself, is your best teacher. If you could see the faults yourself, you would not have made them. The critic gives you valuable advice to help you ascend in your career. The editor will praise your work with payment when you have sold your
article. Friends who praise or lend advice are not a help but a hindrance. They are usually incompetent; their praise may give you a wrong estimate as to the value of the work.
Your pride should consist in not just writing a story, but writing a good story; and not in the fact of working on a story, but in the fact that you are working diligently and skillfully.
You must keep trying until you learn in what areas you are lacking; in what your mistakes consist. You must keep working because this is the most effective way to gain experience. Without experience you cannot write good stories, nor sell them. Your hard work must consist of study as well as writing. Don’t get discouraged when somebody helps you—that’s foolishness. Don’t desire praise that you do not deserve—that’s vanity.
After several years of experiencing many failures and some successes, I frequently receive e-mails asking for advice on that overused theme, Success, and how writers can obtain it; as though I can easily reveal the secret of a success, ever so minute, to another writer. It all depends.
To begin at the beginning
You will never find a ready-made, well-paved path leading straight up to the heights anywhere; not in art, or science, or literature, or music, or anything else. Accepting any writing opportunity that blows your way will help to strengthen your skills and experience when passing over the mud puddles of rejections in the tread-worn road.
Occasionally you will meet a writer who claims an editor has never refused a submission to any journal or magazine. Then why ask us who have? No competent writer believes such a story; besides, it gives one a bad opinion of the writer, and deceives no one.
Seriousness of Intent
No writer who dabbles in writing as a “pastime,” or a “hobby” while waiting for “some other thing” to present itself, can hope for success, no matter how brilliant. He has no right to expect anything, if he only gives a part of himself to the craft. A notable literary figure defined genius to be “the ability to do hard work.”
Writers who achieve and succeed
To choose freelance writing for a profession, you should have the literary temperament and some ideas of business methods on which to base your hopes. Let your inward impulse for expression help you overcome the many obstacles that will try to stop you. Writers who succeed at freelance writing reach their short and long-term goals with great intent. It is a natural feeling to hope something may come eventually. Without this consecration of intent, it is very difficult to reach your dreams.
The world is scattered with defeated, bitter writers who did not go into freelance writing with any seriousness (lack of intent). They overestimated, or underestimated, their skills, or allowed obstacles to discourage them before they even began.
Do not waste precious time learning an art like writing unless you intend to make a life-work of it.
Freelance writing is a high or a low vocation, just as it is for other artists who pursue to elevate their work to artistic standards or cater to the sensational.