If you want to be a successful writer, write and write and write some more. If you follow this blog, you’ve heard me repeat this mantra again and again.
Thoughtful reader Janet wrote in to say: “That sounds like good advice. But how can I write and write and write some more when no one will buy the novel I already wrote?”
Good question, Janet. And I have a good answer for you.
Set your novel aside for a bit and take some time to write small. That is to say, write short things (as I do in this blog.) It is so refreshing to start something and see it quickly come together. If you have a word deadline, writing small teaches you to make every word count. It will help you hone your idea around your focus and stay on track. Writing in small bites will encourage you to experiment with strong nouns, and to see how few adjectives they require. Also to dig out active verbs that spring and romp and wallow and transform your prose.
Writing small also gives you an opportunity to sell your work and earn a track record as a writer. You can gather “clips” (samples of your published writing) to send in with your query letter or book proposal.
So what are short pieces?
- Magazine articles
- Newspaper stories
- On line magazine articles
- Book reviews
- Meditations and devotions
- Fillers (i.e. Readers Digest, although many much less competitive magazine markets also use them.)
- Stories for children’s magazines
- Puzzles and games
- Greeting card messages
- Religious take-home church school papers
To find out more about these and other short writing possibilities, and who is buying them and under what conditions, check out Writer’s Market. You’ll find it at any bookstore. (The 2011 edition was just released—which means you might find a good deal on the 2010 edition.) Or check at the Reference Desk in your library.
That’s it, Janet. That’s how you can write and write and write some more.
“Ever author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes novels.”
P. G. Wodehouse