Literary agents will tell you their favourite writers are those who build up a long term audience. Like writers, they need to pay bills, eat and eventually start thinking about retirement. They can’t retire on the back of a writer who writes a one-off bestseller. They need writers who can deliver regularly and consistently.
You write for the long-haul. What else are you going to do when your poems or stories are sitting on editor’s desks, your novel proposal is with agents and you’re waiting for responses? Keep writing (and reading).
Refresh Your Writing
- You could write the next poem, next novel or next short story,
- You could also take the risk and write a blog article, review, have a go at a poem if you write prose, have a go at prose if you write poetry,
- Play around with formats, try writing a section of a novel in letters or a short story in tweets. Rewrite your poem as prose, try a sonnet. Time’s on your side, experiment,
- Not every risk will be publishable but by trying something different, you learn new skills and restart your enthusiasm for writing that next poem, next novel, next short story.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut or to put yourself under the obligation to write something that you find you can’t write anything. But you’re a writer, you need to write.
- Change your environment, weather permitting get outside, do some exercise or spend some time not writing but recharging,
- Read through notebooks or journals, pick a page at random and write a paragraph about a situation or person mentioned,
- Just write, forget about producing something for an editor and purge your mind of vague half-ideas, anxieties and that inner critic,
- Read – pick a poem at random, what theme is the poet writing about, could you tackle it differently? Pick an article, could you turn it into a story?
- Take two unrelated ideas and combine them or rewrite something familiar as something else, a set of instructions as a curse, a recipe as a pantoum, the plot of last night’s episode of a soap opera as acted out by the characters in your favourite film.
Develop Self-Discipline and Confidence
It’s not always easy justifying setting aside time to write or delegating chores when the people you live with regard your writing as a hobby, especially when it’s not earning a steady income or they don’t see any results.
- Find your best time to write and organise your share of the chores outside of that time so no one’s asking you to do chores while you’re writing or complaining they’re always doing the chores because you’re not doing your fair share,
- Create a set space, which could be a desk, filing cabinet or bookshelves to keep your magazines, writing reference books, correspondence, etc organised so you don’t waste valuable writing time searching for a vital piece of information,
- Organise your computer files so you can find files and documents quickly and give your documents meaningful filenames,
- Keep a list or file of successes so you can both remind yourself why you’re writing and remind detractors it’s worth you doing this,
- Define yourself as a writer or a poet or a novelist. If you are “a retail assistant who writes” where are your priorities? If you don’t take your writing seriously, why should others?
- Develop the habit of writing. Stephen King has pointed out that if you write 300 words a day, you’ll have a novel by the end of the year,
- Befriend other writers, even if just on social media, you’ll feel less alone,
- Don’t stop writing. Keep learning, keep reading and develop a writing schedule you can stick to.
Writers need to be self-starters. In a crowded marketplace, no one is going to write your book for you or even promote your work for you. Diversify your writing too, reviewing books is a good way of combining market research and keeping your name in print; guest blog posts will also keep your name in circulation and could earn income.
By Emma Lee