As I sit in my southern California office, I have to admit I am a bit distracted. It is raining outside. I live in an area that may get 6 inches of rain a year. When we get a real downpour it is always exciting. I am watching the raindrops dance on the street and the trees swaying to the beat. I hear the rat a tat tat on the roof as it joins its tempo to the rain music. It is our version of a snow day in other parts of the country. I want to go outside with my umbrella and boots and take in the sounds and smells.
Instead, I am writing my blog. In the part of Nancy's book I am now reading, it is talking about committing to work. If you want to get paid, you have to work at it daily. If you only put in 15 minutes a day, you won't get results. If you had a part time job like that, you would never get a promotion. You have to look at work like it is a commitment. Block the time off on the calendar and stick to it like it was a real job. The more time you can commit, the quicker you will start seeing results.
As an example, Gone with the Wind was written over a 10 year period by Margaret Mitchell -- when she had the free time and the inclination. Do you have stories like that? I have a romance novel that I started 10 years ago. It has about 200 pages. I still think it is a great story, but I haven't added to it. I got frustrated with writing at that point and put all of my writing aside.
Now I am back to writing seriously. I have a goal to submit an article each week to some publication. I never underline or write in books, but I did today to get me motivated. I will share it with you now.
Career writers know they have to spend their time writing what editors want in order to earn a steady income. They know that earning an income from writing takes work, even if they're not particularly interested in a certain project.
I am taking part in the Periodical Challenge that my writer's group does yearly. The idea is to choose a national publication for which I would like to write an article. I am encouraged to aim high -- choose the most prestigious or highest paying periodical. The next step is to review their guidelines to make sure they take unsolicited submissions or queries. This is not an exercise in total futility.
After the magazine is chosen, it is time to do some research. This is where I need to review several past issues of the magazine. This search for copies will include libraries, used book stores, and the magazine's website. From there, I am to determine which feature section of the magazine I want to target.
Now comes the interesting part. Instead of just writing one article I am encouraged to write FIVE. I need to find different ways to meet the style guidelines. This will include word count, point of view (1st or 3rd person), and anything else that I might note in the sample stories I've read.
Now I will be able to write the stories, keeping in mind that I am writing to their guidelines. If I was the editor of the magazine, I could write it the way I wanted. Since I want to get paid I will write to suit the editor. Once I've done a couple of rewrites, I will get it critiqued and then review and rewrite as needed. By the end of the month it is to be submitted.
I have already chosen the publication and the feature section. I have done 2 drafts of one story, but then I noticed that it was only half the length of their recent articles. So it is time for a new draft.