I like metaphors. I like everything about them. Analogies and similes are cool too.
Today’s post extinguishes the notion that writer’s block is actually a thing. Every day, topics to write about are screaming at you. Writer’s block is simply a failure to pay attention to them.
Almost everything makes me think about something else. In fact, baseball and driving a car in traffic are two general areas of life rich in spiritual and practical lessons, making me think of life and my faith in new ways.
Conversely, golf and anything related to home plumbing are two areas which remind me we live in a fallen world where evil reigns.
Traffic roundabouts are filled with general life lessons, and to prove my point, I am going to use traffic intersection roundabouts to explain how best to write a book proposal. Roundabouts are placed at intersections of roads, creating confusion, chaos, and a lot of driver anxiety.
You know, just like developing a book proposal.
Regardless of your opinion of them, roundabouts are proven to dramatically reduce fatal intersection crashes, save money on traffic signals and eliminate traffic backups during peak hours. From multiple sources, here’s how to navigate them:
- When you approach a roundabout, yield to other traffic and watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- Look to the left (or right if you live somewhere who drives on the other side) and yield to traffic already in the circle.
- Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. Look for pedestrians and make sure you stay in your lane. (In a multi-lane roundabout, choose a lane before entering)
- Choose either the left lane as you enter the roundabout or choose the right lane if you want to make a right turn.
The process is intended to make you pay attention.
Now, to book proposals. (This is just too easy)
- Be aware of traffic. When you start doing a proposal, keep in mind publishing is competitive and develop it with that in mind. Your proposal will be viewed in context with hundreds of other proposals.
- Finding comparable titles is easy. Have an idea how you compare with titles already in the market and ready yourself for the competition.
- Use some guidelines for creating a proposal. (This agency has a page of guidelines here with a substantial amount of information, so there should be little mystery.)
- “Pick a lane” is not only a term in safe driving through roundabouts, but also in effective book proposal development. If you approach a proposal with no idea where you want to go, it will be confusing and filled with anxiety. You’ll just go around and around in a circle with no end. Know who you are as a writer and what direction you want to go.
Maybe next time I’ll use whitewater rafting as a basis to write about getting published. That would be another easy post to write, except I’ve never been white-water rafting. Maybe I’ll use installing a kitchen sink instead.
I am already not looking forward to it.
Life has its roundabouts and swings
and traffic rules to heed,
for we don’t have the raven-wings
of the sort we’d need
to go direct from A to B,
eschewing signs and lanes,
rising high enough to see
our goal, ‘cross hills and wooded plains,
and this, I think, is for our good,
for we lack raven’s wisdom,
and we’d be all we think we could
be now, and thus become
the proof of deadly pride in us,
the flailing fall of Icarus.
Oh, Andrew. I hear your heart.
Father God, I lift Andrew to your throne and praise you that you are sovereign in all things. Thank you for gifting us with Andrew, his mind, heart, and spirit. In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.
Judith, thank you so much for this. I’m largely bedridden now, but had to push through yesterday to dig a grave for by ancient and beloved Husky, Denali.
Your words, and the love that shines through them, are a balm, and a pearl beyond price.
I love this piece, Dan. About as much as I hate roundabouts. I lived in Italy for a decade, where for some reason known only to a few Italians, the rules are different. The person entering the roundabout has the right of way. Not having been made aware of this, the first time I ventured to drive in urban Italy, I approached the first roundabout, and stopped to check for traffic. I was immediately accosted by a chorus of horns and shouts from the cars behind me. One driver left his vehicle to yell at me. The metaphor – know the rules before following them, and be prepared for unexpected variations. And…do nothing to block the progress of your readers as they drive through your book.
Dan, I love your mind. Thank you for elucidating the vagaries of the publishing business in ways that any one can grasp. I’m always amazed that people braid themselves in and out of traffic, switching lanes often. That, to me, is a recipe for disaster. Nuff said.
Kristen Joy Wilks
You need to go white water rafting, Dan! But seriously, thank you for the thoughtful post about book proposals. Choosing the lane we want, yes, I can see where that would be important.
I get your point, but I have to say there are round-a-bouts and there are round-a-bouts. Oslo, Norway has one that took me four “rounds” to get it right, and all the honking was a bit unsettling. Since there are five roads entering the round-a-bout, you were “required” to get into a specific lane (third, I learned) to exit where I wanted to exit. When I at last got it right, my sister yelled, “You did it, ’cause nobody honked. You are right, it’s a lot like learning to write.
Roundabouts cause me a lot of uncertainty. Sweaty palms go along with roundabouts AND submitting to an agent, in my experience. I do love your sense of humor about it all.
Hilarious and valuable! Good advice!
Your humor shines! I nearly dropped my coffee cup while laughing at this: “Conversely, golf and anything related to home plumbing are two areas that remind me we live in a fallen world where evil reigns.”
But seriously, this is quotable: “ Every day, topics to write about are screaming at you. Writer’s block is simply a failure to pay attention to them.”
I’ll treasure that for years to come.
Ann L Coker
Dan, I’m smiling through your whole piece. I too love metaphors, analogies and allegories. My favorite book is John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Roundabouts were new to me when we moved to Indianapolis. I learned to pay more attention to what’s coming from the left and that helped and gave me more confidence. In writing my book proposals, I look for what’s left and needful to include, not to impress.
Great metaphor comparing book proposals to roundabouts! Learning how to navigate each is so important. Just as we all see some people doing unbelievable things in roundabouts, I’m sure you see the same with book proposals! Thanks for making me smile today.