I’ve mentioned Wordhustler here before, but it’s worth mentioning again (because I’m about to quote the email I just got from them!). I’ve always been one of those writers who loves to write but hates to submit or market that writing. The result: more filled pages than I know what to do with, and a rather piddly publication credentials sheet. I’ve gotten tired of cringing every time someone asks, “Have you published?” I hope that cringe is enough to make me submit more, and even better, that I’ll publish enough to actually want people to ask that question. SO, that’s why Wordhustler is fantastic — you can upload your publication package to your account and THEY do the actual submitting (printing your materials out, putting the stamp on the envelope, etc.) In addition to that, they have the best database of contests, agents, and publishing houses I’ve ever seen anywhere on the Internet. So, without further ado, here is their sound writing advice for the new year (with my own opinions inserted).
WordHustler’s 2009 Writing Resolutions
- Write at least one hour every day. “But I’m so busy!” you gasp. “An hour! Every day?” Yes. If you don’t prioritize your writing, how do you expect it to ever support you? If this means getting up earlier, staying up later, missing your lunch date so you can write, DO IT. Try to sit down at the same time every day. Don’t worry about getting 15 pages written or finishing your screenplay in that hour, just get the words down on the page. As soon as you see the pages start to pile up, you’ll know your time was worth it. [I am in full support of writing every day with this caveat: don’t treat it like your absolute first priority if it isn’t. What I mean is, if you’re visiting a good friend for a weekend, and your first priority is squeezing every last minute out of your time together, and if writing is going to make you grumble and resent BOTH your friend and your life as a writer, go ahead and back off. Remember that you need to do some living to have material to write about.]
- Learn your opportunities. The most important thing you can do (besides produce the best writing you can) is to know your markets. Before you submit to an agent, a publisher, or a publication, do a little research. WordHustler makes it easy to check out almost every market’s website to get an idea of the tone and flavor of their material. This knowledge pays off big when you accurately target your genre of writing to a like-minded publication or agent. [Yes, Yes, YES! Wordhustler is absolutely justified in tooting their own horn here.]
- Mine Your Past. Flannery O’Connor once said that anyone who has survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. And since we’re all here, staring at our computer screens, it’s a good bet that we have either survived or are in the midst of surviving. Take what O’Connor said and apply it to life on a grander scale: if you’re living, you have experience to share. Things you see in your own way. Things others might appreciate and connect with because, just maybe, they see things similarly. Write for that shared experience. Write to make sense of your own life. Just keep writing.
- Hedge Your Bets. If you were determined to find the love of your life, would you go on only one date? If you were looking for the perfect job, would you only apply for one position? So why do people send one submission out and expect their writing dreams to come true? WordHustler likes to recommend a Rule of Ten: keep ten submissions in play at all times. Not only does this heighten your chances of getting published or landing an agent, but it also keeps your spirits up and alive. Send out ten poetry submissions, enter ten contests, query ten agents. And when you hear back from some or all of them? Send your work to some more. Who doesn’t like tipping the odds in their favor?
- NEVER GIVE UP. Yes, this seems like an obvious resolution. But let’s get a little deeper into this: never giving up means slogging through your pages when you are so tired you can’t see straight, it means continuing to send work out even when you get rejected from your favorite magazine, it means believe in yourself even when it seems like no one else does. Being a writer is a solitary, sometimes very lonely pursuit. You have to be your own biggest champion, often in the face of much adversity. But perseverance and honing your craft have the best payoffs…believe in yourself, believe in your writing, and success will find you.
Well, WordHustlers? What do you think? Are you going to grab 2009 by the proverbial horns and make this the year your writing gets noticed? We at WordHustler are dedicated to equipping you with all the knowledge you need to succeed. To aid you in this grand endeavor, WordHustler is offering 30% off all orders for the month of January (excluding contest entry fees). Just enter coupon code SUCCESSIN2009 when you check out. We want you to get your work out there and get published! You can do it!