August 27, 2015
There’s so much advice given to writers these days that it’s hard to decide what to listen to and what to discard.
Here are a few misconceptions many writers have that I encourage you to think about before accepting them as truth.
- Write well and you’ll succeed. Actually, writing well is necessary, but there’s a lot of bad writing that’s being published by major publishers simply because the author is famous or has a proven track record of being able to sell books. What you really need to do is write a good story or book that people will tell others about.
- Rejection of your proposal means the idea isn’t worth pursuing and you should try something else. Instead of trying something else, consider trying somewhere (in the case of a publisher) or someone (in the case of an agent) else. When I wrote for national magazines, I thoroughly analyzed the publication (how often published, readership, advertisers, what percentage of articles was staff written, article topics, etc.) before I sent my query letter. I even tried to find something the managing editor wrote, then mirror his/her voice in my query letter. I experienced very few rejections because I knew what my customer liked, used, and needed.
- Write with the intent of getting published. Some of your best writing will occur when you write for fun. Only a small percentage of writers gets published and an even smaller percentage is able to make money, much less make a living writing. It can–and does–happen, but you’ll enjoy your writing (which will probably also make you a better writer) if you write because you love it, not because you want to make money at it.
- Future success is more likely if you’ve had past success. While it is true that if you’ve had past success, you’ve got a proven track record, it’s also true that editors who don’t know you and your work may have other writers they like to work with. When that occurs, you’re simply starting over with a new market or editor and your past success is just that.
I encourage you to keep writing. As I’ve said so often, you’re the only one who can write what you write. If you don’t share your writing with the world, it can’t enjoy your ideas, your characters, your stories, your insights, your wisdom. Happy writing!
August 18, 2015
Summer got away from me as I expect it did for many. But a quick glance at the calendar shows school starting soon, fall colors appearing after that, and holidays and year-end coming.
This is a good time to get your new writing routine established, and here are some tips to help you do just that.
- Writers write and sometimes get published. If you’re not writing, you’re waiting. If you’re waiting, you’re losing time and denying others the beauty of your insights, your observations, and your talent. The best way to hone your writing skills is to practice by writing something every day.
- Put forth your best effort every time you write. I didn’t say you had to write perfectly. I simply said do your best. Athletes practice to get better at what they do. So do dancers, singers, musicians, quilters, etc. No one practices to get worse. As long as you’re writing anyway, give it your best. You can always go back and work on your project again if you decide to.
- Keep your faith in yourself and in your writing. Everything you write won’t be stellar, so if your support system loves everything you do, expand your support to include those who will make suggestions for improvement. Those suggestions are meant to show you that you can write and you should keep going.
- Listen to yourself. If your imagination is taking you someplace you hadn’t expected, instead of fighting the urge to move in that direction, go with it for a while. One mystery author told me she had to rewrite her novel because the character she intended to be the murderer wouldn’t do it, so she had to change murderers and ended up with a better story.
- Have realistic goals. You may get published (or you may not). You may write literary fiction (but commercial/genre fiction offers a better opportunity for being published). You may write poetry (but poetry is extremely hard to sell). If you’re writing simply to write, that’s wonderful. But, if you’re writing to publish and earn money, study the marketplace and learn what it takes to get your book published and what it takes to sell books once you are published. If you’re writing for the periodical market, learn what the publication publishes, how much of the publication is freelance versus staff written, how payment works, etc. Dreams are super, but have realistic goals.
I hope these few tips help you figure out how to make writing something every day part of your fall routine. Remember that no one else writes what you write, so get busy. Happy writing!