Leaping Before I Look: Fast Action

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Take care preparing your query. One incorrect punctuation can mean a rejection!

Twitter pitch parties are a great way to get your work in front of an agent. Take this class to prepare. If your pitch isn’t perfect, agents will pass it over. 

Warnings like these are legion. As a result, one writing friend takes a week or more with every query letter she writes. I refuse to tell her that I write mine in at most 90 minutes. 

Still I often use the need to plan, or write and rewrite, as a way to delay taking action. In an attempt to get beyond this I’ve been looking for ways to take “fast action.” For me, this means moving forward without every single detail mapped out. 

My first foray into fast action wasn’t writing but it was writing related. My office is a monumental disaster. It doesn’t help that 2020 turned it into OUR office which means that any cleaning up I do takes place around my 6’2” office mate. Two weekends ago when he was at the cabin (3 hours away), I had an epiphany about decluttering the office closet. This would require emptying said closet. Instead of measuring shelves and drawing plans, a requirement for any team effort, I pulled everything out. Two hours later, we have an amazingly well-organized office closet. It isn’t perfect but when someone needed a padded mailer yesterday, he could find it. Score one for leaping without looking. 

My second foray into fast action was last week’s PBPitch on Twitter. Somehow it had escaped my notice that this was coming up so I didn’t have time to run things past my critique group. But I read a blog post about an author who, for an earlier PBPitch, wrote her pitch in a parking lot and sent it out on the spot. This was how she landed her agent. I spent an hour writing and revising pitches for three books. I posted them on Thursday and got a request. Posting my pitches instead of talking myself out of it meant that a top agent has one of my manuscripts. I count that as a win. 

My third fast action foray involved my web site. Given that I’m querying, I need to update my site. But it wasn’t just the content that was a problem. My old design is dark and dated. I’ve been trying to talk myself into working on this all year, and I have to update my GoDaddy listing by November 10th. What if I expanded my blog into a site? I picked out a new theme and got started last week. I still need to add graphics and fix the menu, but leaping into the project got me moving. 

Fast action isn’t going to work for everything. But sometimes if I dive in with only a sketchy plan? I end up moving forward. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 25 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins December 7, 2020) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins December 7, 2020). 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--You have published books and published books' worth of experience, so when you "leap," you're leaping with knowledge and skill and talent.

I'm glad you're leaning towards not talking yourself out of things. We're guaranteed to fail if we don't at least try.

And you know I'm all about anything "pantsy." ;)

Congrats on your request. A week spent on a query? Is that someone I know?

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Sue, this post rang so true with me. I have at times been too cautious about getting every detail right, I talked myself out of submitting. I'm learning though to leap, "take fast action," more and more each day so I don't miss windows of opportunity. Congratulations on your request.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...


I love that word. Pantsy. But you are spot on. We do need a certain amount of experience before we start going all "fast action." No, I don't think you know this particular writer. She was based in St. Louis for a while but that was years ago.


Thank you! And good luck in your own attempts to take fast action!


Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm with you, Sue, about jumping in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I always feel better either way. 'Cause when it works, I'm like Yay! And when it doesn't work, then I'm like, "Well, at least I didn't spend DAYS on that."

Admittedly, I had to learn that the hard way. :-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Don't we all have to learn things the hard way? Or is that just me and you?

Renee Roberson said...

When I was first starting out, I AGONIZED over queries. It didn't matter what the query was for, a magazine pitch or literary agent. I was so terrified I'd make a mistake and get blacklisted. I've since learned to not be so timid about querying, and also take quick action when I feel it's warranted. I also decided my website wasn't working for me last week and bought a new template to install. I don't consider myself techy but am proud of myself for installing it and tweaking some of the plugins! It still needs more work but patting myself on the back. Congrats on the new manuscript request and I'll go check out your site.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one diving into site maintenance. Although I think I may be avoiding politics. Ugh. Off to visit your site!

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