“Be extreme. Do more than expected. Surpass yourself.” Dr. Rob Gilbert
Can taking this advice really make a difference? Can becoming more intense about our work and really stepping on the gas create results? A success I’ve just enjoyed proves that it can. Here’s what happened:
1) We all have projects sitting on our computers that we’ve poured a lot of time and energy into but never took flight and made it out into the world. I had a story called, “September 11, 1776,” that I’d written quite a while ago and that meant a lot to me. I’d had a bite from a magazine a while ago, but nothing happened. With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, I decided to pull my story out and take a look at it.
2). I revisited it and felt very strongly about it. It’s a story about what was happening in New York in September of 1776 when Washington and his Continental army fought the British. It’s a story of hope, grit, and resilience. I felt it might be uplifting and even inspiring for people to read in the midst of all the dispiriting 9/11 coverage.
3). I decided I really wanted to see it in print. It was July. I put everything else aside and focused on getting it published. I revised it and quickly sent it our to family and friends and revised again.
4). I asked for help. I canvassed friends and family for publishing referrals and leads. I asked my son Alex to draft a query for me. I put together a list of possible publications and sent the story to still more friends. I came up with a list of more than 20 candidates—everything from Oprah and History.com to Slate, Buzzfeed, and even LitHub.
5). I spent almost 2 days ferreting out email addresses. I UPSed the story to several publications and emailed queries or queries and drafts to more than 20 possible outlets.
6). Over the next few weeks, I got three responses. One was from “American Heritage”—a wonderful magazine I feel is the perfect home for my story. I sent the draft and in September the story was published along with a beautiful layout that made it come alive on the page. Here’s the story: https://www.americanheritage.com/george-washington-september-11-1776
Writing dangerously means not just taking chances creatively, it also means taking action to get our work out into the world. Write on!
For a daily dose of inspiration, check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s podcast, The Success Hotline!
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