The advice you’ll find in every writing book is to take some time to write every day, or at least as often as you can. Writing itself is the greatest teacher. Even better than whatever book on writing you got that advice from.
That and a pile of unfinished stories in my head have forced me to get focused. I’m a very chaotic person, but I’ve managed to funnel my activities. A little.
Almost every morning, I’m awake before the baby. The first thing I do is go to Writersmarket.com and look at one publisher of children’s books. If it’s something that publishes what I write, I write the company’s name after a list of my books where appropriate. I don’t do more than one, because it’s overwhelming to spend a lot of time poring over submission requirements and descriptions of recent works.
If I have time after that, I work on writing something.
Something new I’ve done is start looking at magazines on Writersmarket and NewPages.com. I try to look at one magazine a week. It takes longer to get to know a magazine, because you have to read the stories. Book publishers make it very clear what they publish, because they want you to buy them. But literary magazines are coy about it, and you have to read a few stories to get an idea of the editorial tastes. Magazines I like are put on an Excel sheet with their needs and a few notes by me.
But all this grew out of my submission-a-week. Starting in June, 2009, I’ve been sending one thing into the world every week. This could mean sending a children’s book to a publisher or posting a YouTube video.
The idea is to have everything that’s finished in the mail somewhere. Then, because I’ve got a list of potential publishers, I can just send it back out again if/when it’s rejected. Once I’ve got a dozen or more finished products floating around, I’ll constantly be sending things out after rejections.
But very quickly, this turned into a chore to make deadline. It takes a lot of time to research markets. I wasn’t getting any actual writing done. So I allowed my one weekly submission to be substituted by a significant amount of work on a particular piece.
My weekly blog does not count toward my one thing a week.