Writing is a dual process. You have to be creative to create the product but you also have to be business minded to market your work. The creative side sort of takes care of itself in my mind. There are times I sit down and say – let’s try something new. I’ll pull out my poetry book and try a new type of poem. Or I’ll go to a publication I don’t normally write for and try their style. Flash writing for me is quite the challenge. I LOVE words so I’m not likely to tell you there is a blue sky. I’m going to tell you about the clear cerulean endless expanse dotted with puffy billowy white clouds. Flash writing is typically a very small number of words – 500 or less is very common.
Marketing and the business side of writing is a bit more difficult. You have to find the places that publish the work you produce. Then you have to follow their guidelines (don’t bother sending if you aren’t following them). After an interminable amount of time you find out whether they accept your work or not.
You also have to put your creative self away when you get the notice because most of the time it is NO. They don’t tell you why – they just say no. You have to have a thick skin here because I’ve had rejections from sweet and kind to completely bitchy. One of the things you have to realize is that in a magazine there is a limited number of spaces they fill. If it is a big publication maybe ten, for these ten slots, they get hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of submissions. You are one very small submission. Your article, story, poem – whatever – may have been perfectly lovely but there were a lot of other ones that were just as lovely. The lesson here is “do not take it personally”. It is just a business decision. Move to the next publication that fits the item. Keep trying – even if it seems hopeless.
The problem here is there are only a finite number of hours in the day. If you are like me – you have a day job, family and other obligations. Sleep is important… I guess. You have to find a balance between your writing tasks. For me this is one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to write and to hell with everything else. I just want to work on what I want to work on. I don’t want to deal with the editing, marketing, etc.
This means time management is a key skill to employ. It is one I’m still working on. One thing I do is when I have very limited time, rather than start writing when I’m not going to want to stop, I’ll work on those marketing tasks, editing tasks and so on. If I’ve only got an hour, I’ll look at my submission guidelines and try to find a piece that will fit without me having to write. If there is one then I work to make it fit the guidelines. If there isn’t one – I put it in my to do pile (which is WAY too big).
I have a day job so my breaks / lunch time activities sometimes include editing and other writing activities. Because it is a shared break room I often end up doing more of the business side of the writing during this time. I try to make the most of my time but really there are just times I want to be a veggie and hit my recliner…