Thursday, March 03, 2005

Get Your Writing Unstuck

Over the years, I’ve listened to a lot of writers (or would-be writers) tell me their story and talk about their dreams and aspirations. It’s always fascinating to me. I learn a great deal from the interaction.

Yesterday a writer told me about his on-again/ off-again experience with writing. Let’s call him Mark (not his real name). He’s been to a number of conferences, knows some agents and editors, and has a solid basic understanding about the industry (in my opinion from listening). This year Mark decided to return too his writing with a set word goal for each day and at first he made it. Then life got in the way and Mark decided he needed to spend some of the precious writing time in research and other things.  As I asked more questions, it turns out that he’s working on a long novel project.

My suggestion? This person has rich life experiences from years of working with people. I believe he could write some strong personal experience stories which would have a single point (called a take-away). These nonfiction articles would give him credibility when he gets around to marketing his novel project.  Many people are stuck in their particular writing desires—poetry, fiction, children’s books, etc. Maybe they’ve never sent anything into the marketplace because in their mind it’s not good enough.  Maybe they have sent it into the market and get rejected a ton. Yet they persist on in their task (admirable in some ways) but they are stuck.

You don’t have to be stuck in that long-term project. You don’t have to abandon it but simply set it aside for a short time. Turn to some short nonfiction magazine articles or try writing some query letters and getting a magazine assignment. Why?

Magazine writingfiction or nonfiction will help you in several areas:

  • when an editor sees your longer work (fiction or nonfiction), magazine credits help your credibility as a writer.  It shows you have a basic understanding of how publishing works.
  • magazine writing teaches you to meet deadline with quality material
  • magazine writing teaches you to write to a specific word count
  • magazine writing teaches you about the editorial process. An editor will work on your words (hopefully improving them—some editors are admittedly more skilled than others at this aspect). You will learn to rewrite (if requested).
  • plus you gain a multitude of other important skills for the publishing process.

If you are stuck, then be aware that you are making a choice. You are choosing to stay in a particular type of writing. You can break out of that mold. It might be the boost that you need for your writing life.

1 Comment:

At 7:25 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

Thanks for taking the time, even when you're traveling, to post here, Terry.


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