C is for Chops


No, I'm not talking about pork commonly fixed for supper.  What I'm referring to is the *expertise in a particular field or activity (*according to Webster on-line), specifically where it pertains to writing.

At what point do you think you'll earn your "chops"?  Have you already? I mean its not like other fields where there's degree's, certificates, GPA's, credentials, and many other forms of accreditation recognizing achievement that you might find on a resume.  Or is there? Does landing an agent signify chops? How about a book deal? Or maybe it's a collection of multiple published books? I have a short story (Itinerary) scheduled to be published this spring and I can tell you I don't feel like I've earned the chops I'm after yet.

But there are a couple of area's associated with writing where I have considerable chops.  One...I am an expert in seeking publication. I know the ins and outs of things like writing query letters, synopsis, and how to research possible agents.  The other, I know how to use blogging to build a platform and create useful connections within the publishing community.

There are numerous sub-fields that can be mastered on this publication journey, so don't fret over the chops you may not have yet...celebrate the ones you do. 

I forgot to bury my personal information on yesterdays blog until it had already been live for a couple hours.  It's there now, so if you visited before 7 AM CDT yesterday (there were 10 of you), you might want to revisit. :)

66 comments

  1. Great post! It's important to remember our strong points as we continue to build upon our weaker ones. It's easy to focus on our shortcomings.

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  2. We build on what we have, shore up what we don't. Works every time.

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  3. Sometimes we have to just sit back and evaluate what we have accomplished to see what we have actually accomplished.

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  4. I guess it's a continuing process. I don't expect anyone ever really feels like they've learned enough about any particular field.

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  5. One step at a time, one chop at a time. Well done on publishing your short story.

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  6. I don't know if I've earned my "chops" but I went ahead and published anyway. I have a tendency to jump right in. I'd rather fall on my face than never try.

    Congrats on your short story.

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  7. I've not earned my chops in certain areas, yet, but I'll get there. Congrats on the upcoming publication.

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  8. I agree with your view of chops. I think writing 'chops' might be one of those arenas that constantly evolve.

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  9. I think we've got expertise in any number of things, but we have to give ourselves credit for all we know. Congratulations!

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  10. Great post. Important to remember what we do know in writing and any outside job we have.

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  11. Being accepted as a member of the NSA made me feel like I earned them, and yet I keep learning more and growing as a speaker, so I don't think I've arrived.

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  12. Thinking about that big one: my book becoming amazingly successful, either makes me anxious or envious, so right now I try to enjoy the little "chops", like a really good day of writing.

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  13. We share the same chops. We're can start our own group now. :D

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  14. I don't know if I'll ever feel like I've earned my chops. I just keep striving and learning and growing and do my best to be happy with the journey. :)

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  15. Great "c" word, enjoyed the post very much,

    Yvonne.

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  16. Excellent post considering today is IWSG and I haven't written my piece yet. To earn your chops you have to first exercise them and it ain't easy no matter how you look at it.

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  17. It's smart to remember our strengths so we can improve our weaknesses. I don't know what my particular chops are though. I just keep plugging along and learning as much as I can!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  18. Very good and useful information, DL. Thanks!

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  19. I too feel like I've got the whole "how to go about getting published" thing down. Now if only it would happen ... :)

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    1. I have no doubt it will happen, Tiana. There is always more to learn, but you will prevail. Perseverance is the key, I think. I don't think I've earned chops yet, but someday I'd like a collection.

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  20. Thanks so much for the information on 'Writing Chops'! As a Blog and Letter writer only, I can tell you that I've chopped lots of stuff from my Blog, writing and as for letter writing, my Mom is so thrilled to get an actual letter with a stamp that she doesn't 'Chop' any of them. Now you know the extent/lack of my author/publishing background. However, with info like what you are sharing I'm encouraged to give it a try one of these days.

    I do know I'm going to count AtoZ Commenting a 'Chop'. This is my 3rd consecutive ComChop for your Amazon Cash Contest. Yipee!!!
    Sue~CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

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  21. okay where is the chops... and the apple sauce... really it's a good feeling when you earn your props for the chops...

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host
    Oh No, Let's Go... Crazy

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  22. An expert in seeking publication! You sure have considerable chops!!


    Regards
    Kriti
    [Stopping by from the A to Z Challenge]

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  23. I think that even the most successful writers still wonder if they've got the chops when they sit down to write something new. Insecurity runs rampant in writers.

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  24. Okay, this clears up something for me. Have you seen the kid at Vanderbilt who asks to accompany Billy Joel (seriously, go watch if you haven't). At the end, Billy Joel tells the kids he's got chops when he played the piano and I was so confused because band lingo for chops is the mouth for the instrument. This makes it make so much sense! #feelingclueless

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    Replies
    1. Crap, this is me - signed up as my teacher self...

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  25. Hmm. Chops. I'm not an expert in anything except realizing I'm not an expert at anything...getting back to work now...

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  26. I often wonder if I will ever feel like I have earned my chops with writing. I've heard other, more experienced writers say they still have things they are learning and they often get stuck too.

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  27. Good reminder. I'm off to keep building my chops in the "seeking publication" area. :)

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  28. Even writers whom we would think of as having the chops still have to revise and edit and maybe even do rewrites. That might be what it means to have chops... to keep going, keep doing.

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  29. This is a great choice for C. My chops are in TV and technology. I like to write about technology, but I also like to create new technology! Similarly, I like to write about TV, but I also love to watch TV in the background while I work.

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  30. Nice. You and I tread a similar path. My fingers are crossed that your path leads to a deal. Many thanks

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  31. I've earned my chops slugging it out and learning this business. But I don't feel like I've earned my chops yet as a writer/author. Maybe in a few years...

    Great post - congrats on your short story :)

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  32. I'm not a writer, I'm a blogger so I haven't earned any chops.

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  33. Hi Don .. my chops are earning their burn during this A - Z .. I must stand up!! That's a good analogy for earning our chops ... I'm earning my supper shortly - no chops though!

    Cheers Hilary

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  34. Here's to another great SEEKER. *high five*

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  35. Wait, that may qualify us for the Quidich team!

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  36. I love the way you put this. I am always wondering when I will get my chops, do I have the chops, etc.

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  37. Being from the coast my first thought when I saw "chops" was this meaning: (n. pl.) The sides or capes at the mouth of a river, channel, harbor, or bay...Must add this to my C post!

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  38. Hello, Don

    Thanks for this.

    I am not a Blogger, I'm merely a writer and this A-Z Challenge (my first) is indeed a challenge for me! I've been so intent on giving an explanation of aspects of my first book that I haven't taken the time to enjoy the experience of Blogging.

    The bigger challenge is going to be that from D to Z, I'll try to lighten up and have fun like you obviously do...

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  39. Good points! Lots to think about! I always say that we never stop learning...

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  40. Nice post and so true! I'm also a writer and am about to have my second book published by a small publisher, but it still doesn't feel like I've "made it" as a writer yet. I think I'm waiting for the day it pays the bills!
    : )

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  41. Excellent post. I'm feeling hungry now for some reason. Maybe I'll barbeque some chops for dinner.

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  42. I may never have New York Times Bestseller chops, but I'm all right with that!

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  43. My idea of chops (in writing at least) is being able to quit my day job... But I know that if I get there, it'll probably change again.

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  44. This is an excellent point. I self-published a poetry collection, but I definitely do not think I've "earned my chops" yet!

    I hope somewhere you share your extensive knowledge of the submission process. That would be extremely helpful to those of us just dipping our toes into the water.

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  45. My chops will be supporting my family with my writing. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm slowly working up the hill;)
    Some say it takes 1 million published words to be a true writer (good writer). I'm aiming toward that goal.

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  46. Chops. I'm not sure I'll ever feel like I earned them.

    We shall see!

    Great post, sir!
    Heather

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  47. Great post with heaps on information and advice. Thanks.

    All the best!

    Nas

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  48. I have no chops...and I'm not that great at cooking them, either. But there's always hope!

    Jenny at Choice City Native

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  49. Hmm... I don't know if I'll feel like I have the chops until after I've published a novel.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  50. I don't know if I'll ever feel like I have my writing chops, even if I see my book on a store shelf someday. Congratulations on having your short story published soon!

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  51. Very good and I've earned my own chops by chopping down goals into realistic, workable sections.

    Chop, chop, being gone three in the morning, I must try and doing something weird, like sleep,

    Be well and happy alphabeting!

    Gary :)

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  52. This is a weird approach, but I'll mention it anyway. Last year I decided I needed something on the "chops" section of my resume, so I entered four national contests, won two and finaled in two. It turned out to be a very good move. I made a bit of money, received a lot of attention, several lovely certificates, a gorgeous plaque, two free conferences, and my short story was lead in Best New England Crime Stories. At least I have something to put on my bio now. :)

    ~VR Barkowski

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  53. I've always said my credentials are still ignorant. There is a very loooooooooooong way for me to feel like I've earned any chops in writing.

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  54. I've got a short story coming out in a genuine published anthology this month. My first official "I'm published." I thought that would do it but I still don't feel like I've earned my chops. Maybe it has to do with whatever your personal goal is.

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  55. Great post! I still have some chops to accomplish, for sure. But it's a nice reminder to enjoy the journey and be proud of the area we've already covered.

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  56. It's great to add skills and activities, to always seek and improve.

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  57. I definitely have not earned my chops yet, but I'm still striving for them!

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  58. I'm trying to find some blogland chops and choppers

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    1. Thanks for your email, I'm in no rush - happy healing :)

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  59. I don't have any writing chops - maybe when I grow up ...

    Popped by from the AtoZ Challenge.

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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  60. Since I started this writing/publishing business I've learned so much about things I didn't even know existed before. I'm working on getting "chops" in several areas. Very time consuming, but exciting.

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  61. Haven't earned my chops, but I know a lot of awesome bloggers who have. : )

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  62. I've been told that I have one of the best resumes (in terms of format and layout) that a number of people have seen. Apparently I interview pretty well too. Maybe I have my chops in tooting my own horn! I am a truly humble person, though, I swear!

    Cheers from Brandy at http://brandysbustlings.blogspot.ca/

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