Writing is easy—just open a vein and let it bleed all over the page. And writing is very hard—to be a successful writer, you need a well-honed set of tools.
Writing Tip for Today: What are some ways to take your writing life to the next level?
I’ve said a thousand times that good writing depends upon how much practice you are willing to feed it. That old saw about 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft really is true. Yes, some lucky writers seem to hit the jackpot straight out of infancy, but most of us slog along for a decade or more, practicing our skills.
How we practice looms as an important piece of this idea. Do you have a writing routine? Do you stick to it? Writing practice demands your presence! And no, writing in your head is not a worthy substitute for the BIC (Butt in Chair).
As you practice, I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind: 1) DO NOT edit yourself as you draft. 2) Be willing to write crap. 3) Commit to showing up to your keyboard or legal pad on a regular basis. These three tips will help guide you through those 10k hours of practice.
Writing practice demands your presence!
But what will you do when you get brave enough to submit your writing and the rejections come rolling in? The successful writer refuses to take rejections as evidence of inability. Publishers have lots of reasons to issue you a “no.” Your piece might be on a topic they published last month. Your writing doesn’t fit the publication in tone, slant or audience. Or your writing might be a little too unpolished for publication.
Instead of giving up, think of rejections as part of the writing practice curve. Cheer yourself up by thinking about Stephen King’s multiple rejections for Carrie or J.K. Rowling on public assistance. Nearly every writer gets rejected at some point. Take your lumps and get back to work.
I allow myself twenty-four hours to feel awful about a rejection. After that, I get back on the writing horse. Also, I try to have several shorter works going while I finish that novel. Long works can feel very isolating while short pieces can give you a boost while you finish your book-length work.
Patience is a writing virtue that everyone loves—said no writer ever. We all hate to wait. But the fact is that publishing moves very slowly. If you choose traditional publication, it can take a year or more from contract to publication. Even in self or hybrid publishing many steps exist between finishing your manuscript and holding a book in your hands.
While you wait on longer works, enter legitimate contests with your work. Take the theme of your book and distill it into an article or short story. If you write personal essays, consider submitting to anthologies such as Chicken Soup. Every publishing success can make waiting on your writing dreams easier to bear.
Patience is more bearable if you find other writers to help you hone your craft. Find a critique group either in person or online. You’ll find valuable feedback to help you along with these three “Ps.” Keep practicing (BIC!), don’t give up and while you wait for the golden ticket, write your heart out.
Here’s a free pdf writing resource to encourage you! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Joyous Season to all my writing friends. Keep Writing!