At the end of yesterday’s did-we-really-cram-all-that-awesomeness-into-a-single-day Austin SCBWI conference, several of us local folks assembled onstage to offer what were billed as “9 Habits of Highly Successful Authors and Illustrators” (which, in keeping with the day’s unofficial theme, we managed to cram into less than 30 minutes).
Here’s what I had to say on the subject:
I’m not sure if you would call this a habit, or a strategy, or a pathology, but being hardheaded was absolutely essential to my getting published.
When it comes to your creative work, I think you have to have the ability â€“- the SITUATIONAL ability -â€“ to believe that you’re right and everyone else is wrong — for example, when your picture-book biography of the guys who invented Day-Glo gets rejected by 23 editors but you keep submitting it anyway.
But for that to be an ABILITY and not merely a chronic case of delusional thinking, you have to do more than just believe strongly in your own work.
You also have to know the market. You have to know your audience. You have to know your technique. And you have to take seriously the feedback you receive.
Then, based on knowing all those things, you simply reach a different conclusion about your prospects than all those people who keep telling you “no.”
And notice how I called it a SITUATIONAL ability. If “I’m right, they’re all wrong” is your M.O. -â€“ if it’s your approach to EVERYTHING you create â€“- then you’re just acting like a jerk.
That tends to work against you.
As folks recover from the conference, I’m sure there will be lots of thorough posts about the goings-on there. I may add links to more as I spot them, but here are the bloggers whose accounts I’ve seen so far:
E. Kristin Anderson
P. J. Hoover
Jessica Lee Anderson, P. J. Hoover, and Jo Whittemore
Sara Lewis Holmes
Greg Leitich Smith