Friday, February 1, 2013

Your Writing and Publishing Career: Where Do You Want To Get To From Here?

I have some great news to share at the bottom of this post. I'm often asked how to "get there" - writers want to know how to be successful in their writing.

Okay, let's see what we can glean about how I "got there" (if I have) and how you can "get there" too. Here are some thoughts that I hope will benefit you:

Just Do It  One of the biggest factors, I truly believe, whether we're talking about writing, screenwriting, or any other kind of business, is the factor of "just doing it."At the risk of sounding like a shoe commercial, it really does come down to that: Just do it!

I cannot tell you how many people ask me how to become a writer and get published or how to write a book or how to write a magazine article. Some of these people have already written books and they have them sitting there on their desk or in their computer and they want to know what to do next. So I talk with them and tell them what they can do, what needs to be done, and what to do next. Then I tell them to contact me and I will help them. And I never, ever hear from them again.

You've probably heard the old adage: "90% of it is just showing up." Same with publishing. Show up. Show up for work. Do something. It doesn't matter a great deal if you put in full days at your writing desk or only an hour or two one day a week or a couple days a week. If you're systematically doing something, you're making progress and you'll get there. Be the hare. Or be the tortoise. It doesn't matter. Just get in the race.

Need some help getting in the race? Try these:

Join a Challenge

I'm a big advocate of National Novel Writing Month (write 50,000 words in November), but right now November is a long ways off. You don't need to wait to join the challenge. Do it on your own.

If you're up for the challenge of screenwriting, join ScriptFrenzy and write 100 pages of script in 30 days. If you're not into screenwriting, pretend it's November and write your 50,000-word novel in April. If you're not into novels, write 50,000 words of your nonfiction book in April. If you not into writing books, write 50 1,000-word articles, or short stories, or newspaper columns, or whatever it is you want to write.

Both NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy are free to join. You don't have to make any preparations at all, but I find I do better when I'm prepared with a story idea, well thought out, and an outline to work from. Now is the time to start working on that so you'll be ready when April 1 rolls around. It's coming quickly! No joke.

There are also other challenges, such as book-in-a-month. Go find yourself a challenge or make up your own and just do it.

Join a Contest

I joined the Kairos Prize competition simply as a challenge. I was challenging myself to get a feature-length screenplay written by a certain date. I barley made it, but I did. Yes, I was expecting to write a screenplay that was good enough to not be embarrassing to enter it in a contest. That was part of my challenge. When I entered my screenplay last November I didn't really think I'd be on the semi-finalist list. I was just completing a project I had challenged myself to take on in order to push me forward in my writing. Now look what's happened! I'm on the semi-finalist's list and have a chance to be on the finalist's list!

I never expected that, but magic can happen when you just do it.

Do you need a contest to join? Contests abound. Some are free; some cost. Some are prestigious, some are worthless. Be picky. Find a contest that is well-known and valuable, at the very least valuable in moving you toward your writing goals, and take part in it.

Are you a book writer? Or do you want to be? My publisher, Pix-N-Pens/Write Integrity Press recently announced its 2013 book contests. This is the same contest I joined last year where I won the "Books of Hope - Nonfiction." This year their word is "Joy." They are looking for Christian books -- both fiction and nonfiction, both series of 3 books and single, stand-alone books. Click on the "Writing Opportunities" tab at the top of this page for more details. Or visit Write Integrity Press's "Books of Hope Contest" (or see the January 8, 2013, post at for all the details.

I never used to enter contests and I rarely do now. It's more about, "Will this contest get me closer to where I want to go" than "Can I win?" Winning or making a semi-finalist list is great, but entering something that stretches you toward your own goal and helps you complete a project is worthwhile in itself.

Make a Deadline...and Keep It!

I know so many writers who never make a deadline for themselves and never complete a project. But I know many more writers who do make a deadline for themselves and never keep it. The term deadline came about in the old newspaper days when you had to have your news copy in by a certain time or "drop dead." It's too late. Deadline means deadline. Make a deadline to complete a project, then keep it! (That's what Challenges and Contests like those mentioned above do for you.)

Remember the old adage I shared above, "90% of it is just showing up"?  I can tell you that so many people "never get around to it." Many people want to write or pursue something they've dreamed of, but few actually do it. By my guess-timation, if you do it, you'll be ahead of 90% of everyone else who never gets around to it. So don't be like them. Just do it.

Really Big, Majorly Distracting, Good News:

Semi-finalist in Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays

That's right. My screenplay is a semi-finalist in the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays! You can see the Semi-Finalist List here.

The finalists will be announced the first part of February, so I guess that means any day now. Which is why I'm so distracted. I'm waiting for that news.

Winners will be awarded at the 21st Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Awards and Report to the Entertainment Industry on February 15th, 2013, in Los Angeles.

If you're interested you can find a bit more information on my Deliver Me blog.