This will be a short post, because there are roughly 3,000,000,000 of “How I Got My Writing Contract” blog posts floating around the interwebs, and not a single one of them has anything more practical to say beyond: stick with it and your dreams can come true.
It’s true that perseverance is key. If you don’t write on a regular basis, if you don’t submit on a regular basis, if you simply hope that someone will eventually stumble into you and declare you the next Hemingway or Gladwell, then you’re not gonna get much of anywhere. You have to stick with writing to see it produce.
But at the same time, you can accelerate things if you learn to do something that I dreaded: reach out to people who’ve gotten where you want to be. Some call it networking. Others call it contact mining. I called it using people, because I didn’t understand the fundamental rule of this world: you give as much as you get. You pay things forward as a way of paying back.
I learned this a few months ago when I discovered that a friend of mine from childhood was an executive with a company that I respected. His is a field that holds much interest for me, so I tweeted him to see if he’d be willing to get breakfast and share with me his story. We set up the meeting, met at Chick-fil-A, and over the course of an hour I learned a lot. How his path had unfolded. How he’d been helped along by others. How he saw his position as a way of blessing others by connecting them with people or insight.
And then he proved his point: he called over the CEO of another organization similar to his, who just happened to be dining in the same Chick-fil-A. (Another good piece of advice: don’t assume that the people eating in Chick-fil-A are just run of the mill schmoes. A lot of high-powered folks enjoy The Original Chicken Sandwich as much as you do.) The CEO came over, and after a brief introduction, asked me to email him my contact info because his organization is always looking for contract writers. I sent the email and he forwarded my information on within his organization.
Thursday, I received an offer to write for them.
I don’t feel right divulging names, so pardon the ambiguity. But if you’re a writer, or want to become one, know this: if you stick with it, your dreams can come true. Just don’t forget to add the hustle, luck, and skill.