Whatever stage your writing career is in, here are three “writing life” suggestions to reinvigorate your commitment to the writing life and jumpstart the forward motion in your writing career.
1. Get Clarity on Your “Right Now” Writing Goals
Creative people are notoriously all over the place — we often have what career coach Betsy Capes calls “multi-goal syndrome” — the desire to continuously add appealing writing projects to the “to do” list before you’ve finished the ones you’re working on. And those “multi-goals” don’t even count the obligations to your family, or to the job or jobs that pay the rent.
Sometimes “stalled” is just another manifestation of “overwhelmed.” In order to achieve more effective forward movement in your writing career, it’s important to narrow your focus to just one or a couple of creative projects at any one time — otherwise you risk not completing any of them and “finishing” is one of the Six Habits of Successful Writers, closing the loop on any creative progression.
How to get clarity? Some writers recommend meditation. At the risk of sounding simplistic, sometimes it helps to clear out the physical clutter — just cleaning off your desk might help you focus. (For help with that, here’s a handy About.com video about clearing unwanted desk clutter.)
But whether it’s your desk that’s cluttered or just your brain, get clarity on what you most want to accomplish in the next six months, what one project you most want to complete. Write it down and make a commitment to finish it before you move on to new writing projects for yourself.
2. Build Your Platform
An unpublished author’s media platform in their subject-appropriate area (see “clarity,” above) is one of the critical elements a publisher will look at when considering handing out a book contract. Of course, an author with his or her own established popular column or television show is the publishers ideal, but a writer with a strong online platform is also very attractive to potential publishing houses — because “platform” translates to “readers” translates to “sales.” Today with social media and online video venues, it’s possible (not easy, but possible) to build a platform on the internet without the benefit of being anointed by a media giant.
Read about how you can strengthen your online platform by:
• Making sure your website “home base” is up to snuff. Your website should be the one stop for information for your potential audience, as well as the media a.
• Making sure you’re exploiting all possible facets of social media. Here’s book and social media PR pro Laura Rossi’s social media checklist, so you can take a measure and see what needs improvement
• Using Twitter to effectively engage an audience for yourself. There are Twitter conventions just for authors, as well as best practices for excellent tweeting in general.
• Thinking about creating an online book trailer. If your trailer goes viral, you have a “commercial” to bring in new readers and fans and maybe even the media.
3. Reach Out to a Writer's Group or Conference to Inform and Encourage You
A writer’s support system can be a small, in-person local writers group, an online community (like SheWrites), a larger organization that supports your genre (like the Romance Writers of America). You don't even have to interact if you don't want to — sometimes reading about others' experiences is enough. Alternate to a regular group, an occasional writer’s conference where even a seasoned author can recharge creative batteries or pick up some tips. For example, Author 101 University run by Rick Frishman, whose interview about book publicity appears here, is useful for garnering new hints about the ever-changing world of the book publishing business.
For new writers, writer’s groups of all sorts help to keep you abreast of developments in the industry, make you part of a community that helps breed networking and getting the contacts to help get you published. And, of course, a good writing community helps encourage you while you’re learning and hoping, and helps pick you up when you’ve had the inevitable disappointment.
Even if you haven’t yet published, most associations have provisions — such as an associate membership — for aspiring writers in their respective genres. Here are writer’s associations to consider:
• The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
• The Romance Writers of America (RWA)
• The Mystery Writers of America (MWA)
• The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America
For information on academic programs, check out the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).
Whatever stage it's in, implementing these three quick hints might help give your writing career a boost.