Friday, November 16, 2007

Mini Series, Part Two

I previously shared where freelance writing began for me. Today, I'm going to share a few tips that have helped me develop relationships with editors and get published (a writer's dream!) numerous times.

I've really adhered to this list.

1. Get organized. There are many writers lost in stacks and piles of papers and chaos. I just personally feel that organization is the way to go. When I first started writing, I went to the store and purchased a 3-ring binder and plastic sleeves. I created log sheets and since my first submission/query, I've been keeping up with each and every detail. I know when I received rejections and and what date my work was published. I love going back through my log sheets and seeing what I've accomplished! Seeing my writing accomplishments grow, change, and increase has really helped keep me motivated.

2. Learn to wait. Dig deep and find all the strength you have. You might get lucky (or blessed) and have an article/poem/feature story published the first time you submit, but chances are that you won't. You must have persistence, dedication, and get ready to wait. Editors are busy people and it's not a personal issue when they don't return your email/phone call within 5 minutes or even 5 months. Be confident, be patient. I'm only human. Sometimes I want to cry when my work is rejected. Sometimes I almost can't resist the urge to email an editor and ask, "Have you received my submission? Do you liked it? Are you going to publish it?" But we can't do that. So, I wait. I'm getting use to it, actually. An easy way to wait is forget you're actually waiting by working on new projects and submitting them. You'll get so busy doing this, you'll be pleasantly surprised when an acceptance email comes!

3. Learn how not to make editors your enemies. If you're rude, an editor won't want to work with you--who would? But there are other tips, too. Read the link to find out more. I try very hard to be kind and accept any criticism with a good attitude. I know everyone of us are different. Some aren't as patient. I'm sure others are more patient than me. But each of us has the potential to be nice and professional and civil. If we search our hearts, we'll find it's there.

4. Keep writing (obviously) and don't lose sight of your dream. Don't submit one article that you just whipped up and didn't even rewrite/polish and think because it came from your heart that editors and publishers and the whole world are going to think it's the greatest piece of writing on the planet. Write. Rewrite. Polish. Edit. Wait. Proofread. Do your best, keep writing, keep submitting like a mad man/woman. Query, submit, query, submit, query, submit... Don't give up! I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Yeah, right!" How are we suppose to do that. It's not as easy as it sounds (thanks for reminding me, Rebecca.) You're right. It's not as easy as it sounds. Sit down, make a list of the pros and cons of writing. How important is it to you? How badly do you want to be published? Could you be searching for markets and submitting instead of watching reruns of your favorite television show? Could you sneak in an hour of writing after the house goes to sleep? The reason I have been able to keep writing, submitting, and querying is because I've made it a top priority. Nothing worth having is easy, is it?

5. Learn how to uncover hidden writer's guidelines. One thing that was really frustrating to me when I first started looking for places to submit my work to was the inability to find the writer's guidelines. I'd notice other folks were published at a certain website or magazine, but when I tried to find out how to submit it seemed impossible. So, I started digging. As you'll read at the above link (which is an article I had published at, I became a cyber detective. If you can't find a particular market's guidelines, be a snoop and dig them up!

6. Blog! I've found new inspiration, met loads of blogger/writer buds that are an encouragement, inspiration, and have wisdom I can glean from. I love receiving feedback. Just like Rebecca's comment on the original version of this post which urged me to add a more personal touch to my tips (which I should have done to begin with to keep with the theme of this mini series, but as we all know most times there are a million and one other things going on in our offices/homes and I failed to recognize that.)

7. Take criticism. Of course, sometimes some people have negative opinions. This hurts as a writer that a reader wouldn't feel the same was we do about something we've just poured our heart into. We need to stop and listen to what they're saying. After all, if our readers feel something is missing or an element is left unanswered, we can hone our craft by embellishing or clarifying. I've had all sorts of criticism and judgment from various people since I've really been writing and getting published more often. There's even been the occasional jealous one, but things like this happen and we'll grow stronger with each learning process. It just takes time.

8. Unlock your heart. This is carrying me far. It's always easier to write about a product or someone else, but when we open our heart and share our emotions, fears, joys, uncertainties, and raw, gut-wrenching feelings, our readers will laugh, cry, and/or shake their head in amazement--and they'll come back to read more. Don't be afraid to reveal the depths of your soul. Dust the cobwebs and bring them to the surface and stir the memories. Allow them to cascade from the place you've been keeping them hidden away all this time. The power of writing is in unleashing the very things you're petrified to share....

9. Pray. I've saved the best for last. This, I feel, is the most important and significant of all the reasons I'm being successful in accomplishing my writing goals. Although I am a Christian gal, I know many of my readers may not be or may be of another faith or religion so I personally choose to represent my faith without forcing everyone to read about it in every post. I am touching on it in this post because I was asked to share what I've done so far as I strive to become a successful freelance writer--and prayer is a major part of that process. I do have a strong faith and a most treasured walk with God. Throughout each day (and night), I talk to God. I pray as I hit the send button or pray over the manila envelope before I mail it via snail mail. Try it sometime ;-) God is the ultimate inspiration for all of my writing and He's the reason my heart has been healed enough so that I can share all of my pain, blessings, and victories with you!

And... it's the times I really just let go and get it all out, that my readers are the most satisfied.

Thanks, Rebecca, for urging me to dig a little deeper. You certainly were right!

I am finding continuous success with these tips. Be determined, don't give up and you, too, will succeed writing the cyber highway!

*Last part of this mini series coming soon!