Sunday, January 1, 2017

It's Time to Start Over

Happy New Year! It’s once again time to start again. Funny how this one day can make such a difference. Personally, I try to use this day to get myself reorganized for the coming year. And you should, too.  As the year rolls on, things may seem to unravel. Does your recordkeeping fall short? Do your about writing seem to get more vague? Does your mind begin to wander as emergencies and small crises pop up?

As another year dawns, it’s time to reflect on your writing career. If you just started out in 2016, then you’ve got your whole career ahead of you. If you’ve been writing a while, then maybe it’s time to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and make some plans for the future. Make 2017 the year you go somewhere with your work.

Let’s say you’ve just begun to work as a freelance writer. Did you find it hard to place your work in the marketplace? Did the process seem frustrating? Do you think you’ve exhausted every avenue?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then you have most likely haven’t followed the path of least resistance. Most beginners start out by sending their work to top publications. That’s your first mistake. Remember, you’re a beginner. You haven’t been in the marketplace long enough to establish credentials. So maybe you ought to plan ahead for 2017 so that you can get at least one piece—and hopefully many more—published.

Here are a few tips to getting on track in the coming year:

Write about what you know. The first mistake many beginning writers make is writing about subjects they know nothing about. Stick close to home. Write about subjects having to do with work or with a special interest of yours. Doing so will help build your confidence and give what’s called a “voice of authority” to your work. (More on voice of authority will appear in a later blog).

Keep your pieces relatively short. Another mistake beginners make is writing everything there is to know on a subject. It’s not really their fault, however, since the only type of writing they learned to do in school that had anything to do with research was term papers and reports.

Write to communicate.
You’re not writing for a grade as you did in school. You’re writing to communicate information to your readers. Unlike your teachers, your readers want to learn about your subject and be somewhat entertained at the same time.

Start with small publications. Search for publications that work with beginning writers. The editors of top publications are too busy to fuss with the musings of beginners. They need writing that’s concise, accurate, and professional, leaving little for them to do but lay it out and print it.

Set reasonable goals. Create reasonable goals for yourself for the coming year and see to it that you achieve them. Check on them occasionally to make sure you’re on track. And if you get off track, get back on as soon as possible. Lots of things can knock you off your game—illness, even a cold, family emergencies, a death in the family, etc. Remind yourself to review your goals in six months to see if they’re still possible or if you have to adjust them to your present situation.

Good luck and make this weekly blog part of your regular reading for 2017.

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