Lessons Learned Along the Way



So by now everyone in the North American hemisphere knows that I've gotten an offer to have my novel published.  (If they haven't, I'll do my best to make sure they do over the next couple of days.)  On Monday, I wrote an initial post about the news.  Yesterday, I wrote a bit more.  And today, I'm writing about lessons learned along the way.  Because, there have been many of them, starting with….

Determination.  First of all, let me explain.  I finished this book two years ago, maybe longer.  And I've been marketing it off and on since then, mostly to agents.  As a matter of fact, the publishing house that accepted me is the first publisher I sent it to. I've lost count of how many agents I've sent it to, probably at least fifty.  Yes, fifty.  I love this novel and I've been determined to have it see the light of day. So there you go, first on my list is determination. Never underestimate its power.

Clarity.  Last fall, I parted ways with a coaching program I had contracted with.  It wasn't working for me, and I had some chronic pain issues that made it difficult to keep up with the program.  This led to deep soul searching on my part.  Why hadn't the program worked for me when it was so very successful for others?  Which led me to the answer: because I was trying to be something I wasn't. So that made me think long and hard about what I was and what I wanted to be.  What did I love doing, above all else?  The answer was writing books and blogging.  From that moment on, I redoubled my efforts in both areas.  The results have been gratifying, with more traffic to this blog, and now, my novel about to be published.  Let me just tell you, clarity rocks.  Rocks, baby.

Discernment.  Along the same lines as above, I've had to gently learn the fine art of discernment.  This, not that.  That, not this.  Resist the latest bright shiny thing that is not exactly allied with my areas of interest and stay the course.  This means, to me, not buying the latest glitzy course in how to run some area of my business.  Instead, I'll put time into either my blog or my book.  (Or my coaching.  I do love coaching and teaching, too.)

Serendipity.  I think its important to allow for the unexpected to happen.  After I submitted to this publishing house last fall, I didn't hear from them.  Then I assumed that I wouldn't hear from them.  But then I did.  Never underestimate the unseen forces that are working on your behalf in the background.  And finally,

My spiritual practice.  This may well be the most important lesson of all, because it underlies everything.  Since I returned to church last year, I've learned a whole new way of thinking that makes everything better and easier.  It is based on faith–faith in our ability to create our lives, our health and our prosperity.  Some may sneer and call it all positive thinking, but that's their issue.  I say it's a lot more pleasant to think positive thoughts than negative ones, no matter what the outcome.

So there you have it–the lessons I've learned along the way.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Identify the life lessons that have guided you.  Because once you've identified them, you can more readily call upon them.  Inner knowing is half the battle.

Would you be willing to share your life lessons in the comments?  We'd love to hear them.  And if you liked this post, please tweet it or post it on other social media.  Thank you.


Photo by austinevan

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24 Responses to Lessons Learned Along the Way

  1. J.D. 03/15/2012 at 04:38 #

    Life’s lessons I’ve learned are . . . wait a moment, it’s coming to me . . . . Um. This could be a problem.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 03/15/2012 at 06:52 #

    J.D., you’re so funny. And you’re a helluva lot wiser than you think. I know its impossible to get to be of Baby Boomer age and not have figured out a thing or two along the way….

  3. Melissa Marsh 03/15/2012 at 08:55 #

    Determination – that is one thing that I must have in spades, though it waxes and wanes. I’ve been at this writing game since the 6th grade and I’ve always had one goal in mind: GET THE NOVEL PUBLISHED. Well, I’ve written four novels, and the first three should probably not be published. The fourth one, though, is the one I desperately love (I loved the other three, but I see that there is more maturity to my latest novel – as it should be if you’re growing as a writer!). I’ve got agent interest in this one, so we shall see.

  4. Suzanne C. Robertson 03/15/2012 at 09:10 #

    As always, great advice, Charlotte! I was just reading a post you wrote in Oct. 2009, “The Writing Disease.” How fun to look back on that from this about-to-be-published vantage point:

    “Here’s what counts: never, ever in my life have I worked as hard on anything as I have this novel. I’ve written other novels before, but always stopped short of truly having a finished product … If the novel never sells, I will have the satisfaction that for once in my life I have done all I could do with it I have done my best in every way. It feels really good to be able to say that, and though I’ll be terribly disappointed if it doesn’t sell, it will be enough.

    “And that, to me, is what the drive to write is all about.”

  5. Charlotte Dixon 03/15/2012 at 10:21 #

    I’m the same as you, Melissa. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to get a novel published. And I’ve always seen it happening, I just didn’t know it was going to take this long. This is the third novel I’ve written, and the first two were really learning novels. I feel about this one the way you feel about yours–love it and haven’t been willing to give up on it. Good luck with the agent!!!!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 03/15/2012 at 10:22 #

    Thank you for pulling that up, that’s so sweet! And interesting to note the date, too, two and a half years ago. Patience and determination are the names of the game.

  7. Patrick Ross 03/15/2012 at 12:36 #

    Hi Charlotte,

    Have you mentioned the press that is going to be publishing the book, and do they have an idea of when it will come out?


  8. Charlotte Dixon 03/15/2012 at 15:29 #

    It’ll be 2013 (yay, sometimes it takes far longer), and I’ll spread the name of the press far and wide when I have an official signed contract. Can’t wait!

  9. Patty/Why Not Start Now? 03/15/2012 at 17:06 #

    Oh Charlotte…how sweet! I’m so happy for you. Just catching up on blog reading and am delighted to discover your news. I love, love, love what you say about clarity. Like you, one of my biggest life lessons in the past year has been about getting clear on who I am, and not “trying to be who I wasn’t.” There is such a sense of false urgency and must have and must do and must be on the entrepreneurial/creative journey. Turning that off has been such a relief, and for sure has helped me find my center.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 03/15/2012 at 17:11 #

    Patty, I tend to fall prey to the internet marketers who are very good at creating that sense of urgency. Now that I’ve found my clarity, I’m very good at turning away from them. They don’t look quite so bright and shiny anymore. I truly am amazed at what clarity has done for me. And I agree–what a relief. So happy you stopped by!

  11. Milli Thornton 03/16/2012 at 10:11 #

    Charlotte, I was going to wait till I finished my work for today but I just couldn’t do it. Had to come devour this right away. And it was worth every moment of my detour.

    I feel akin to you on so many of the points you mentioned. And I’ve been so much happier lately because of it. Even sleeping better. This morning I unsubscribed from another thing I was trying to make myself adopt that is just all wrong for me. Yeah, baby! Feels good. That kind of self-knowing.

    Thanks a million for putting all this into words for the rest of us to reap the benefits of. Your story is so inspiring!! Not just the offer on your novel but everything you’ve learned along the way. I’ve just added this to my Classic Posts folder. That way I’ll be sure to revisit it and possibly glean even more the next time.

    P.S. I just had a huge sigh of satisfaction. Amen.

  12. Charlotte Dixon 03/16/2012 at 10:47 #

    Milli, I feel honored at this compliment, coming from you. Thank you so much. And I love your point about unsubscribing from another thing that wasn’t you. Sounds familiar. We’ve got so much pulling at us! And thank God for it, I love it, but I also am loving the discernment I now exercise.

  13. Milli Thornton 03/16/2012 at 18:39 #

    Charlotte, so glad I read this in your comments section today (in addition to what you said about clarity and discernment above).

    I was following back some people on Twitter this evening and got attracted by a savvy marketer. Went to check it out, the tweets were powerful, I felt tempted . . . but then I thought about what you wrote. And I looked at her tweetstream. “No personal interaction. Only marketing tweets. Do I want to learn from someone who doesn’t show herself as real?” The answer was a brisk No. I unfollowed and walked away. Yay!!

  14. Don 03/16/2012 at 19:12 #

    Very good points Charlotte and almost Biblical in the simplicity of their truth. True, as a spiritual person myself, I think faith is a big part of it. Faith in a higher power, and faith in your abilities and faith in your work and its value. Provo!

  15. Charlotte Dixon 03/17/2012 at 07:42 #

    Milli, you totally inspire me! That’s exactly what I’m talking about and it is the trap I fall into all the time. Getting clarity has helped me be more discerning about such things. And yet still there are times when I almost fall into their glitzy traps. You rock! And thank you for coming back to share–it strengths me and all my readers, too.

  16. Charlotte Dixon 03/17/2012 at 07:44 #

    Thanks, Don. The bible is the greatest wisdom book of all time. You brought up a good point–faith is an enormous factor. It, along with creativity and inquiry, is one of my three words for 2012. And you’re right, I had to have a lot of it to get through some of the dry spells when nobody seemed interested in the book.

  17. Fear of Writing 03/17/2012 at 12:35 #

    I’m glad that coming back to share my tale of resisting the lure inspired you. (I was a little embarrassed about doing it, so I figured it would be good to push through that.)

    This post of yours (and your news about the offer on your novel) has had a huge impact on me. Along with some other influences that came together all at the same point, your “lessons learned” helped me have a breakthrough with my writing today. I’ll share more about that later, after time for gestation.

    I’m so glad you wrote this post!

  18. Charlotte Dixon 03/17/2012 at 16:45 #

    Milli, isn’t it interesting how sometimes the things that embarrass us are the ones that have the most impact on other people? I knew exactly what you talking about in that comment, and I thank you for coming back to do it. I love how this post combined with other influences to have an impact on you. I’m deeply honored.

  19. Debbie Maxwell Allen 03/18/2012 at 08:32 #

    I’m so excited for you! I love your list here, and I’d say determination is the biggest one for me. A quote I read somewhere: What do you call a writer who never gives up? Published.


  20. Charlotte Dixon 03/18/2012 at 15:29 #

    That’s a great quote, Debbie, and so true. I remember back in the days when I’d get one rejection and give up. Now I know to keep going long past the time when I think it is sane, because the publishing industry is anything but sane. And it is so very subjective…

  21. Roy Burkhead 03/18/2012 at 20:49 #

    Bravo, my friend! :-)

  22. Charlotte Dixon 03/18/2012 at 21:01 #

    Thanks, Roy. You’re the best!

  23. Sue Mitchell 04/14/2012 at 14:01 #

    Stashed this into Read Later when you first posted it, and I am so glad to come back to it now. What you said about clarity is so true, and I’m afraid I’m in a fairly murky place right now. But I know that in the past, when I’ve finally gotten clarity, it’s like someone turning on the lights when you hadn’t really noticed how dark the room had become.

    I also love the idea of unseen forces working on your behalf. I think about that a lot, how things are about to happen that I don’t know about yet, and that in fact, things are already in motion toward them taking place. We have to trust that, which I guess brings us to the faith piece.

    Saving this one!

  24. Charlotte Dixon 04/14/2012 at 14:41 #

    Turning on the lights when you hadn’t realized how dark the room had become is a great metaphor, Sue. And sometimes clarity just takes awhile, plain and simple. I’ve learned that trying to rush it usually doesn’t help.

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