As anyone who follows me on Twitter may have noticed, I’ve been in a kind of writing slump as of late. It happens to the best of us, especially those of us with a lot going on at the moment, but one thing’s for certain: the reason a writer must write, despite being busy or tired or plain fresh out of ideas, is that long hiatuses are the quickest way to dry up your creative well.
That’s something I’ve been experiencing: the longer I’ve been going without writing, the less I have to write about and the less I want to write. It’s a dreadful cycle I’ve found myself in time and time again.
As a result, when faced with today’s Sprint Shack post, I was stumped. I had no clue what to write about, and I still don’t have a topic. So instead, I’m going to let my bad habits be a lesson to all of you, and point toward some resources that can help keep you on the right track.
Over the years, I’ve collected magazines, links, and books on the writing craft, and they’ve all inspired me to keep going (or, depending on their subject, guided me during a specific stage of my writing), and most of them have been less about writing that first draft and more geared toward what to do with that raw copy. Dashing out those words during a furious word sprint is only part of the process; revising and submitting your work for consideration, whether it be a short story to an e-magazine or a novel to a literary agent, are the parts that take guts. That’s when you get your hands dirty.
Here are some of my top resources on revising and submitting your work. They’re the ones that I’ve been referencing or plan on turning to, depending on what part of the process they cover. Just remember not to get too wrapped up in researching this (it can get addictive!) and get back to your writing eventually!
The First 250 Words of Your Manuscript by Janice Hardy – It goes without saying that you have to start strong to catch a reader’s attention, but I never realized how many mistakes I was making in my attempt at a captivating beginning until I read this article. Author Janice Hardy does a great job detailing why that first page of your manuscript (around 250 words) is so important, as well as what to do and not to do in order to draw a reader in. She even gives an extremely helpful breakdown of the first page of one of her novels, sentence by sentence, that demonstrates exactly what she preaches.
NaNoWriMo’s Now What? Initiative – As you may have seen on the Sprint Shack previously, the NaNoWriMo team is dedicating the beginning of 2014 to the revision of November’s novels. They’re offering fantastic pep talks, advice articles, and webinars/live chats dedicated to it, and as always, there’s a fantastic support network on the forums. Don’t have a NaNoWriMo novel? Here’s a dirty little secret: you don’t technically have to be a prior participant to benefit. Just sign up, pledge to revise a novel, and take part!
#amEditing: Need some live support? This Twitter hashtag is constantly live, streaming tweets from fellow writers who are editing their work that very moment. Whether you intend to seek some advice, vent some frustrations, or even announce your accomplishments, this is the place to do it (and the Sprint Shack, of course!)
Let The Words Flow’s Query Week – I used to write over at Let The Words Flow, which is a now-retired blog dedicated to all stages of the writing process. Its current contributors have now moved over to Pub(lishing) Crawl, but LTWF has been left up, leaving behind a wonderful archive chock full of advice from authors at various stages of writing/revising/publishing. In 2011, LTWF hosted a “Query Week” in which its contributors offered advice, critiques, and Q&As on the process of querying literary agents. Though I’m personally not quite at that stage yet, I’ve had this bookmarked for a while, knowing it’ll prove to be an invaluable asset in the future.
Lessons from the Submission Desk by The Dreadful Cafe – Getting a link to this combination talk/PowerPoint presentation will cost you a $10 donation, but if you’re looking to submit a short story for publication, I consider it a must-see (hear?). This talk gives you unabashed, uncensored insight into what editors see regularly at the submissions desk—and most of it isn’t good. For those who want to avoid major, fatal mistakes in their submissions and writing, I highly recommend giving this a try.
#AskAgent and #PubTip – Two great hashtags that allow you round-the-clock access to agents and publishing professionals. Follow them for regular tips and Q&As or take to them with questions of your own. You’ll almost always get an answer—and if not, you’ll still walk away with plenty of tips, articles, and contacts for future reference.
And that’s it for now! What about you? Do you have any great links/resources/tips to dish out to fellow writers in need? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter—we’ll be sure to pass your advice along!