Being good is not good enough anymore. With the world splurging words out everywhere it's difficult enough to get noticed without making it harder than it needs to be. Life is too short and the competition too tough not to be fully exploiting your talent and show-casing it as effectively as possible.
Here's how to find out if you're taking the path of least resistance to your next publishing deal.
Are you enjoying your writing?
Is your writing more like hard work than the fulfilling vocation it needs to be? Perhaps you've set the wrong goal. Ploughing through a multi-narrative war epic spanning 6 generations and 4 continents may not be the right choice if what you really enjoy writing is situation comedy. Don't kid yourself – writing is hard work and takes effort – but if it's no fun at all you're never going to get anywhere. Make sure your subject matter and characters move and excite you.
Are you writing in the right genre?
Does that potential Booker long-list candidate you're trying to write keep turning into comedy chipmunk-porn despite your best efforts? Perhaps the chipmunks are worth pursuing. If you're trying to be serious but your voice keeps cracking jokes, or trying to be funny but it's depressing – then perhaps it's time to stop fighting and roll with it. What we are and what we'd like to be are not necessarily the same thing – get your foot in the door with something half-decent first.
Have you chosen the right medium?
Perhaps your dialogue sings but your prose is like death. Perhaps your internal monologues are transcendental but your characters two-dimensional. Do you conjure scenes or landscapes? Do you imagine visually or linguistically? Ditch the screen-play if internal-monologues are your strength. Stop writing for the stage if your dialogue sucks. Sure – develop the weaker side of your game but play to your strengths before anything else. There's no point in jabbing away with that wimpy left if it's your right-hook that knocks 'em dead.
But I always wanted to write for film not comics, says the bone-headed writer – but, if the comic book is good enough, Hollywood will come calling.
Are you utilising your connections?
Are you married to Steven Spielberg but determined to make a name for yourself on your own? Please. Work every connection you have. You can always divorce them once you've made it.