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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Need more great advice? Check these out:
- Robert's Rules for Dummies, by C. Alan Jennings. I wish I'd written this title!
- The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, E.B. White, and Roger Angell. This is the definitive style guide for writers who want to improve their basic writing skills.
- Beginning Writers Answer Book, by Jane Friedman. Not only should beginning writers get Jane's book, but beginning and experienced writers (and other media professionals) should check out Jane's website.
- Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, by Christina Katz. If you have kids (like I do), then you know that writing and raising a family at the same time is challenging. This book helps writer-parents figure out how juggle both.
- Robert's Rules of Writing, by Robert Masello. Again, I wish I'd written this, because Not Bob's Rules of Writing just doesn't sound as cool.
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!
Yeah, it's definitely not just rookies who commit this mistake. We're all susceptible.
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.
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.
Ha Ha! I don't know, "Not Bob's Rules of Writing" sounds pretty cool to me. ;D
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...
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