From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, July 10, 2017

Have You Diversified your Writing Portfolio?

Firstly, check out this awesome post from Chuck Wendig about making a serious career/living out of this wordsmithing we do.

One thing he talks about in this post that I've been trying to focus on lately is diversifying your writing paths. There are a lot of great writerly options out there, and I don't think we have to pick all of them, but I think we should at least pick a handful.

I like novels, and I think most of all y'all do too, and that is and will stay the largest egg in my basket. But I think Chuck is wise to advocate incubating more than just one egg. (If you're looking to make writing your career, at any rate. There are other writing choices and lifestyles that are beautiful and wonderful too.)

Since writing for a living has been my dream since I was in middle school, this is advice I've been trying to take to heart. And now that I've finished grad school, this is where I'm focusing my energies. I'm querying the novels, of course, but I've also started seriously learning about pitching articles to magazines, news stories to newspapers, working on projects like picture and chapter books as well as my MG and YA novels, researching screenwriting, professional blogging opportunities, etc. Because those are the writing paths that seem at least sort of interesting to me.

There are a ton of other writing possibilities too. TV writing, technical writing, medical writing, legal writing, tons of stuff. In fact, so many it can feel overwhelming. But narrowing down your focus and energies on the opportunities and projects that really excite you can help you take steps towards full time writing.

Do you think this approach to a writing career is helpful for you? What three writing paths would be your top choices?


Monday, July 3, 2017

Two Ways You Might Be Self-Rejecting Your Own Writing

I'm fighting self-rejection at this very moment, actually.

As I'm sitting at my computer trying to decide what to blog about, every idea I come up with seems dumb. Including this one. You guys are already pros. You don't need my two bits. I've got a shelf next to me of books by Ellen Degeneres and Jim Gaffigan and Dave Barry and when I'm working on bloggy stuff I pull one of those books out and glance through it for inspiration, but what often ends up happening is that I see how hilarious these guys are and I'm like, well, if I post anything ever, someone's going to hold up my drivel next to the genius of Dave Barry and it will by like Tyra Banks entering a beauty contest with a blob fish.

Okay, I'm being over-dramatic here, but there are some not very nice monsters that can sneak into our brains sometimes. And really, self-rejection and self-doubt can be like an anvil tied to the ankle of a swimmer. You may be Micheal Freaking Phelps but if you're attached to that anvil you ain't goin nowhere.

As I've struggled with starting new projects lately, and as I've talked with writer friends, I've noticed too serious ways we writers tend to self-reject ourselves. I mean, we get rejected enough. We get the proverbial door slammed in our face all the time, there is NO reason we should be slamming it on ourselves.

1. We Self-Reject our Original Ideas. This is the one I've been dealing with lately. I finished a novel several months ago and it was one of the easiest novels I've ever written and it just felt natural and fun. But ever since then, every tiny idea that's come through my head has been like a little ant under the boot of self-rejection. Every idea has felt stupid and dumb. I get a spark of something and then the monster in my brain says, "No, that's not how things really go." Or, "No, that idea isn't going to interest anybody but you."

So what to do about? I say we should call it the jerk-face meanie poo monster that it really is, see it as a voice separate and apart from our true selves, put a sound-proof glass box around the nasty beast, and ignore it. Or at least do our best to most of the time. This has helped me. I've wanted to write short stories to submit to places like Asimov's or FSF but I've been stuck. But once I realized that this doubt voice was one I didn't have to listen to, I thought to myself, well heck, I'm going to write a story about sister missionaries in space if I darn well please. Who knows if it's going to end up succeeding anywhere, but I'm sure having a dang fun time writing it. And more importantly, I can already tell that the writing is more vibrant, engaging, and alive, then it would be if I was trying to paint-by-numbers some idea I thought would be what everyone else wanted to see.

2. We Self-Reject our Final Product. We're writers, which means words are our business. Ink-blobs on the page is what we're trying to sell, and sometimes it can feel weird. Like standing on the street corner asking people to by a picture of us. But it's not that. You know how the best writers have impacted your life, and what they have done for you. They've given you everything, haven't they? I know that's what writers like C.S. Lewis and Wallace Stegner have done for me. Now, I'm not saying we're going to be Lewis's and Stegners, but we shouldn't be embarrassed that we're doing what they did either. We're making beautiful things. Maybe even art.

When you have a finished piece (and I mean redrafted, beta-read, spit-shined finished) then don't let the self-doubt monster stop you there. You've done it. Now show it. Let the world benefit from your voice and your hard work, and trust that it will in fact benefit. Because someone will, and you may never know. But trust. Yeah you'll still get rejected from the outside, and that rejection sucks too, but just keep going. Make them reject you, don't reject yourself from the outset. Keep your finished pieces out in circulation. When your poem is done, send it. When your novel is done and the best you can make it, query.

You can do it.

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