Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Two Rules for Successful Writers

There are lots of rules or codes a writer can live by, but the following two rules are a great start that cover a lot of the problems I see in the real world of writing and submitting. If you have other rules, I'd love to hear them.

Rule #1: Allow yourself to write crap.

Too many writers don't write "as much as they'd like to." They don't have the time to properly focus. The inspiration isn't there. The television is playing a marathon of Friends re-runs. There are so many excuses, but I think a lot of it comes down to writers being afraid to waste their time writing if what they write isn't great.

Allow yourself to write crap on that first draft. Just write whenever and on whatever you have available. If you can work out a daily writing routine, excellent! If not, then snatch any moment you can--every single day.

Rule #2: Don't allow yourself to submit crap.

While you should allow yourself to write bad on the first draft, you should do the opposite whenever you wish to share your writing with the world, whether you're self-publishing a novel, submitting a story, or pitching an article. Put in the extra effort to spell check and proofread everything you send out (yes, even e-mail messages).

I've been receiving lots of submissions lately (click here to see my calls for submissions), and some of them have included very embarrassing errors--sometimes even in the subject line! These writers already have a strike against them before I even start to consider their ideas. If writers can mess up a simple e-mail, how am I supposed to trust them to write an article for me that costs my budget money?

If you allow yourself to write constantly and then revise rigorously, then you'll quickly prove to yourself and others that you mean business. And that should lead to a more successful and enjoyable writing life.


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Anna Falcone said...

Everything is important. It is not all important at once. Get the words down, so you can fix them afterwards. Simple and basic, but a common mistake (rookie or otherwise). Thank you!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Yeah, it's definitely not just rookies who commit this mistake. We're all susceptible.

EKSwitaj said...

While these are great rules, I do think it's easy to go overboard worrying about point number two. Sometimes, a piece you think is just so-so will be the one other people love.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

That is true on rule #2. I think the main thing is just making sure that the writing is checked and that the writer feels confident that they did the best they could--not just the best they felt like doing at the time.

Anonymous said...

Good advice.

Ha Ha! I don't know, "Not Bob's Rules of Writing" sounds pretty cool to me. ;D

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

If you put in the time and energy, I believe you will find a place for it. If you slack when it comes to the harder stuff, it shows.

Which makes it all the more difficult if you put in your best and keep getting rejected...