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Posts tagged ‘preparation’

Ten ways writers can prepare for success, part II

“Luck is where preparedness meets opportunity.”

Like money, success doesn’t grow on trees or fall out of the sky. We make our own successes by doing good work and being prepared.

In my Part I of this post, I listed five ways in which writers can prepare for success. Below are the next five on my list:

6.  Write and publish small pieces. You don’t have to wait until your great American novel is complete to publish. While you’re working on your work-in-progress, write and publish poems, flash fiction, short stories, creative nonfiction, essays or nonfiction articles. Build up your writer’s resume and credentials.

7.  Teach a writing class. Start building your portfolio. One of the requirements of my MFA program was to teach a class. I taught memoir writing to a group from my community and realized how much I loved teaching and having that one-on-one connection with the individuals in the group. An added benefit: teaching something makes you learn it at a deeper level.

8.  Give a reading. I’ve given many poetry readings over the years. The readings have not only helped me become a better reader, but I’ve learned to relax and make a connection with my audience. Giving a reading is a great way to try out new material in front of a live audience. This may sound scary at first, but the more you do it, the more fun it becomes! If you’re not a poet, there are other ways to read in front of a live audience—search out local writing groups or create a fun event in your home. Invite friends, neighbors, and relatives to a reading party. When my son would have an upcoming piano competition, I’d send him over to the neighbors’ house to practice in front of them before playing for a real, live judge.

9.  Read, read, read. The more you read—and read critically by analyzing what works in a piece and what doesn’t—the better writer you will become. Read widely, not just in your genre. Literary agent Donald Maass once told me that I should read the top ten bestselling books in my genre to find out what’s been successful and what’s already been done. I did this then moved on to some classics and other successful books that I hadn’t read yet.  Last month, I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The White Oleander.” Both made me want to emulate them by doing what they did—write a gripping story, written beautifully.

10.  Have fun! We have a motto in our home and business: “If it’s not fun, we’re not doing it.” Unfortunately in life, un-fun things can happen to us. But if we focus on our heart’s desire and our passions, a certain kind of magic unfolds in our lives. Yes, writing can be hard work but don’t make it into a job that you begin to avoid because you’ve taken all the fun away. Think about what got you excited about writing in the first place. Take a play break, if needed, to recharge your batteries and your attitude.

Good luck!

Ten ways writers can prepare for success, part I

In my last post, “Preparing for success as a writer: where preparedness and opportunity meet,” I wrote about being prepared when opportunity presents itself. Some people call this “luck” but, in reality, we create our own luck.

So, what are some ways writers can become more prepared and be ready when opportunity comes knocking? Below are ten ideas:

1.  Write every day. The act of writing everyday will make you a better writer. The writing doesn’t always have to be on your work-in-progress, but you need to write. Even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes. Write. Write poetry, short stories, scenes, blog posts, letters or emails, articles. Just write.

2.  Learn your craft. Always be willing to work hard and learn new things. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and commit to overcoming your weaknesses. Read. Take classes. Write. Practice may not “make perfect” but it surely makes progress. When you get a new skill down, you’ll be proud of yourself, which will improve your self-esteem and your writing.

3.  Go fear-ward. I realized while starting my fantasy book that my strength was writing about characters and my weakness was understanding plot. The word “plot” frightened me. So I took the mystery and fear away by reading, studying, and taking classes on the subject of plot. I overcame my fear and when I did that, ideas started to pop up everywhere.

4.  Attend writers’ conferences. Attend conferences or workshops not only to learn but to make connections with agents, publishers, and other writers. Collect their businesses cards and immediately put them in a database so they won’t get lost (speaking from personal experience). You never know when one of these connections will come in handy. At one conference, I made a connection with a woman who told me if I ever wanted to do a book signing or promo in her area that I could stay at her home. I made a note on the back of her business card and entered it in my database for future reference.

5.  Research publishing options. In today’s market we have a variety of ways to publish. Do you want to pursue traditional publishing with an agent and publisher? Do you want to self-publish? Go with a small press? Think about how you want to publish and do your research. In fact, it’s a good idea to research all these options. Read blogs by experienced authors. Talk to them at writing conferences.

In my next post, I’ll list five more ideas.

Writing success: where preparedness and opportunity meet

Seneca, a first-century Roman philosopher, allegedly said, “Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet.

As writers, the only thing we can really control is preparation. Actor Matt Damon, in his interview with Success magazine, said he took to heart advice form his high school drama teacher, “Just do your work.” He knew that doing his best—even if no one else seemed to notice—was the only way to succeed.

I had a little run-in with preparedness and opportunity myself last week. As I sat in rush hour traffic south of Seattle for a weekend getaway, I suddenly remembered a poetry contest I had wanted to enter. I whipped out my laptop and connected to my hotspot (fortunately, I wasn’t driving) to discover the contest deadline was in ten minutes.  Yikes! Read more