Monday, September 29, 2014

3 Ways to Boost Your Writing Career Before You Are Published

Wanting to be a writer is like wanting to be a marathon runner. The training necessary for success starts long before the actual event.

You're not published yet? No matter. While waiting for the presses to roll (or the pixels to align), here are a few things you can do to jump-start your writing career:

1.) Own the power of your words.

Say "I'm a writer." Audibly. With integrity and authority. Go ahead... I'll wait.

How difficult was that? Did you feel like an imposter? Did you weaken the impact with a little laugh at the end? Did you speak at a different decibel level than normal? Did you hiccup into upspeak?

The words we speak have tremendous power. If we can't say words with confidence, chances are that we'll never act to make those words a reality.

The power of our words can be a double-edged sword. Wield them with care. Beware of speaking anything into existence that can damage your fledgling writing career. "I'm a loser." "I'll never get published." "My book stinks." "I can't handle rejection." These will suck the life from your writing faster than a carb-starved dieter can suck the filling from a Krispy Kreme.

If you write and submit that writing for possible publication, you will get rejected. This is a universal truism, as immutable as Planck's constant or the certainty that if you drop your toast it *will* land peanut-butter side down. Rejection stinks, but it doesn't mean your book does. It means you have to keep on saying "I'm a writer," keep on learning, keep on revising, and soldier on.

You otter be writing!
Crack those knuckles & get to work!
Saying "I'm a writer" has great value. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In addition, when said in response to the question "What do you do?" it can lead to fascinating conversations and connections that would otherwise go unexplored.

A writer writes. That's the definition of the word. A swimmer swims. A runner runs. An otter... otts? There is no exam that must be passed, no certificate of authenticity, no licensing board that determines who gets go define themselves as "writers."

The only requirement? Well, that leads me to #2...

2.) Write.

Often. Daily, if possible.

Polish your manuscript, by all means, but set a deadline for putting that work aside and beginning work on something new.

It is critical to have an answer to the age-old industry question: "What else do you have?"

The publishing world abounds with stories of writers whose first project sold wasn't the first project finished. This is actually the norm. The standard. Who knows? The project you are shopping now might need a reader base before it finds a publisher. It's very possible that your next project is the one that will establish that base. So -- get to work!

Some are chicks. Some only aspire to be chicks...
3.) Ax "Aspiring."

You know your social media profiles -- the ones you hope and pray the Powers That Be will stumble across, read, and become desperate to sign your witty self to a lucrative publishing contract? Now is the time to run -- don't walk -- and delete "aspiring" as a modifier to "writer." Few things scream "unformed egg-contained chick" more.

"Aspiring" means "I hope to be... someday... when I make it a priority and turn the television off and get off of Facebook and have a plan."

Make today the day you quit aspiring and begin perspiring. Roll up your proverbial sleeves, set a targeted date for completion, and get to work.

Perhaps today is the day aspiring takes a back seat to conspiring. Perhaps it's time to stop sitting around waiting for the world to come knocking at your door and instead make a plan for your success. Take a class. Find a critique partner. Solicit advice from publishing pros. Start building your network and enlarging your circle of influence. Soon, you may discover that the progress you are making in your writing is inspiring others as well as yourself...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Simplest Way to Write to the End

"I have a ton of great ideas. I start stories all the time, but never finish any." 
At #Write2TheEnd, we hear this from writers all the time. This, too:

"I have this story I'm dying to tell. I started it years ago. I've started it several times, but can't make myself finish it."

There are a million things we could say about sticktoitiveness, evaluating an idea's merits, and choosing one's projects wisely...

...but all that would just fill up space, without getting to the real core answer.

How does one finish a writing project? Do one of two things:

If it's within your grasp, take it!
1.) Pick the lowest hanging fruit.

Perhaps you have a plethora of stories all banging about in your head, clamoring for attention. Perhaps you suffer from "Magpie Syndrome" and are easily distracted from one project by others that look shinier, easier, more fun (funner?), or more worthy.

Ok, then.   Choose the story that is closest to being done -- the one that won't take much to push it over the edge to completion.

Now, look at the calendar. Give yourself a deadline. Make it reasonable so you don't set yourself up for failure, but ambitious enough that it challenges you. Sometimes all it takes to finish something is a concrete challenge we deem worthy of accepting.

Work on nothing but that until it is finished, edited, polished, and ready to send out into the cold, cruel world.


Om nom nom. Writing is *delicious.*
2.) Feed your soul. Choose the project that most speaks to you. The one you can't stop thinking about. The one you *have* to write.

You know the one.

Perhaps you’ve felt writing was frivolous, or bought into the notion that there were other, more worthwhile things you should be doing with your time. Many of us were nurtured to seek more lucrative than creative pursuits, but writing calls us anyway.

So go ahead: give yourself permission to get the words out of your head and into the world.

Take that project out of the bottom drawer (or your hard drive), dust it off (or update it to the latest version of Word), look deep into it's eyes and make it a promise...

Promise to work on no other creative endeavor until it is finished, edited, etc.

Notice a common thread?



Working on multiple projects at a time is like fighting a war on many fronts. It disperses your creativity rather than distilling it and concentrating it, making it far too easy to lose focus, drive, or passion.

Want to finish something? Then it's time to overcome your commitment issues.

Pick one.

Roll up your proverbial sleeves and get to work.

Stick with it.

Wrestle with it.

See it through. Then move on to another.

We never said the advice was easy, but it is simple.

What's the best advice you ever heard for finishing something? Tell us!

Adapted from a MuseInks blog post.