Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Writing Advice I’d Give My Younger Self — Preparation

What do I need as a writer? I decided it would be good to know, so I took the perspective of talking to my younger self. I did this in terms of Preparation (this post), Drafting (next week), and Revision (in two weeks), and I decided it might be worth sharing here.

As you look through, you may experience what I did. Some advice, I discovered, is already cooked into my writing habits. In a few cases, the gap between advice and practice needs some closing. Some is more honored in the breach than the observance. 

You might think of this as a menu of possibilities, with lots of opportunity to customize. (I actually printed the list out and annotated it as a step toward incorporating some of these into my practice.) For many, I've added links to provide more details than would fit here.
  • Understand what (4-7 things) you want most as a writer. (For now. These can change later.) Align your efforts to enable or achieve these desires.
  •  Create a short list (3-5) of doable objectives (enter a contest, not win a contest) for the following year in October. Fight through each to the end. Do not worry about missing other opportunities.
  • Build a network. Writing is solo, being a writer is a team activity.
  • Spend more time writing than talking about writing.
  • Budget at least twice the time you think you’ll need.
  • Aim education toward mastery. Own the aspects of craft, one piece at a time.
  • Challenge yourself. Do at least one project each year that scares the hell out of you. Know why is frightens you.
  • Write down ideas in full sentences. Unless applied the same week, sort these into categories. 
  • Choose a project and stick to it to the end.
  • Be exquisitely selective about projects to which time is devoted. Have explicit criteria for choosing these. Know that some of them will not work out, but try to complete them in some form anyway.

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