When I was little, my all-time favorite cartoon series was the Bugs Bunny show. Nothing could come close to the brilliance of that bunny and his friends as they made their way through each Saturday morning adventure.
From Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck to Foghorn Leghorn and Yosemite Sam, there was always someone stumbling into trouble and then trying to figure a way to get out of it. But I think I liked Wile E Coyote and Road Runner the best.
Every Saturday morning that old coyote did everything he could (with the help of the trusty Acme Company) to catch his nemesis but was always outsmarted by him. As I look at where I am in my career today, it makes me wonder if I wasn't a bit like Wile E Coyote in my early writing days. Were YOU??
Just think about it. If the Road Runner was like an incredibly strong manuscript, what writer in their right mind wouldn't try to capture a roadrunner story? Grab on to the tail feathers of that tricky bird and you can almost guarantee an award winning book. But how does a writer catch a roadrunner hell bent on evading capture?
There are a number of wrong ways to go about it. If you don't believe me, just ask Wile E Coyote!
The Wrong Way:
1. Do nothing at all. That's right...sit there like a slug and hope one day a great story will fall into your lap. Maybe even create a blog so you can spend every day whining to all your friends about the one that got away.
2. Try doing it on your own. You can always just jump right in and simply start writing. Something. Anything. Toss words onto paper like it really doesn't matter where they land and pray some how, some way, you might stumble upon a roadrunner of your own one day. If you're lucky enough to be struck by lightening that is.
3. Look for help in all the wrong places. Wile E Coyote did, so why not you? There are plenty of companies out there like the Acme one to help a beginner writer out. Vanity presses taking your hard earned money to print your story, tricky "agents" who will gladly look at your work...for a reading fee, and of course the hordes of friends and family who simply LOVE your manuscript but have no real expertise to help you get your story to the level it needs to be. The only way you are going to catch a roadrunner story is if the bird is dumb enough one day to stumble across your path, lay down at your feet, and say "Here I am!"
Not exactly the path a writer would want to be on if they are working that hard to make their writing career a success.
Then there is the right way to capture a roadrunner story. I'll let you in on some trade secrets, but just don't tell Wile E Coyote...it's just too much fun watching him try to catch Road Runner!
The Right Way:
1. Be patient. Miracles certainly do happen but not usually in a day. Not in a week. Probably not even in your first year or two of writing. It's the writers who are in it for the long haul who come out on top. Those are the coyotes who study every roadrunner story already out there, analyze what actually works (and what doesn't) and apply those lessons every day to become a stronger coyote.
2. Keep writing. Did you really think you could become a great writer without actually writing? And I mean every day. Every chance you get. Write until you get calluses on your fingers...stop long enough to grab some bandages and keep on writing. Train your writing muscle to become as strong as it can be by working out every day and watch how quickly that roadrunner will be within reach.
3. Network with other smart coyotes. Read smart roadrunner capture books. Follow informative coyote blogs. Rub elbows with established author coyotes at conferences, workshops, or writer retreats while taking notes and asking smart questions on how to catch a roadrunner from those who have been successful at it. You aren't the first to want that roadrunner and you won't be the last so why make it harder than it already is?
Capturing a strong roadrunner story might take longer than you originally anticipated when you first started on this path, but the joy which comes with finally catching one is well worth it. And if you don't believe me, just wait for the surprised look on that road runner's face when you actually nab one!