Tag Archives: confidence

The Importance Of A Writing Schedule

The difference between emerging and established writers and aspiring writers often comes down to a question of discipline. Not all, but a significant number of aspiring writers do not make nearly enough time to write on a consistent basis. This lack of effort often translates into a small quantity of work, few, if any, publishing credits, and works that are not to the writer’s potential.

Of course, inspiration can happen at anytime; however, do not let this preclude you from writing even when you do not feel any inspiration. The discipline of a consistent writing schedule has many major positive effects, including:

  1. Improving your writing. If you make writing a consistent part of your life, rather than a sporadic one, your writing will improve by leaps and bounds. You will begin to notice mistakes and ways to improve even without any instruction, and your prose will be much sharper.
  2. Producing a larger quantity of work. Rather than having one manuscript, or a few short stories, you’ll have quite a bit more if you discipline yourself to writing on a consistent basis. This assortment of work will allow you to more easily become established. When applying to different literary magazines or publishers, you will see that certain pieces will be better fits for certain places, and have a greater likelihood of getting your writing accepted for print.
  3. Increased self-confidence. If you talk a lot about being a writer, but have little to show for it, it’s quite likely that you will face kickback from friends, family, co-workers, and other parties with which you associate. By producing a large quantity of work of higher quality and perhaps with a few publishing credentials to your name, you will feel confident that you ARE a writer, not simply someone who wants to be a writer.

So, how should you set up your writing schedule? That depends on you. Do you have a job? A family? Major health issues? Pressing social engagements? If you’re quite busy, even setting up three days a week where you write for 45 minutes can be effective. If you have a bit more time in your schedule, perhaps an hour every day would work. If you find yourself in difficult circumstances such as unemployment, or have the privilege of success in other affairs and thus a lot of leisure time, then why not treat writing like a 9-5 job, with an hour break for lunch. You can even combine the schedules, with your weekends on a 9-5 schedule, and an hour after dinner every weeknight.

The consistency of a writing schedule will pay many dividends. It will provide you with the discipline necessary to produce more writing, better writing, a higher likelihood of getting published, and increased self-confidence. As a writer, you owe it to yourself to develop the discipline necessary to be your best.

In success,
Alfonso

p.s. I strive to present all the tools necessary for writers to dramatically improve their craft and chances of publishing through my blog posts, free Q&A service, and free fiction writing 101 course. However, if you require more personal attention, please consider my editing and/or publishing consultancy services.

The Five Critical Mistakes That Aspiring Writers Need To Avoid

mistake

When you’re new to the literary game, it can be rather easy to fall into some (or all) of these traps. For your own sake, please don’t. Things can change. You can achieve your literary ambitions—but that won’t be likely to happen if you’re afflicted by the following:

1. A Lack of Confidence – You may not have had your work published in any literary journals. You may have had to self-publish that first book. You may not have even completed that first book. So what. Where you are today is not where you have to be tomorrow.

2. A Lack of Writing – You may talk a lot about being a writer, but how much are you actually writing? Aspiring writers turn into emerging writers through writing a great deal. Your work may be rough at first, but like anything else, with practice you’ll grow into a better writer.

3. A Lack of Control – You can’t write because your life has gone awry. If so, you need to take steps to fix your life before anything else. Once your life has some semblance of order, you can turn your literary dreams into your reality.

4. A Lack of Technique – Unfortunately, many aspiring writers don’t read much. You can’t write if you’re not a reader. Reading teaches technique. While blogs like this one, helpful books, and creative writing courses can teach a great deal, it’s an uphill battle if you don’t love to read. Truthfully, reading teaches technique better than any of the aforementioned resources.

5. Treating Writing As a Chore – The world won’t end if your book isn’t completed. Your world won’t end if your book isn’t completed. Writing should be a lot of fun. Writing shouldn’t feel like work. If you treat writing like work, it’s going to start to feel like a job. Writing should never feel like a job. Please don’t put that much pressure on yourself!

Have you made any of these mistakes? How have you overcome them? I’d love to hear your story of how you overcame these challenges.

Performance Swagger

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Boundless Tales Reading Series at The Astoria Bookshop. The lineup featured three very accomplished guests, poets whose work had been featured in top journals like Tin House and Ploughshares, and one poet whose work had been published in ONE journal—a journal that wasn’t Tin House or Ploughshares, or any literary magazine of comparable esteem.

The poet who came out of nowhere blew me away. His work was impressive. Even though his poetry was not nearly as polished as that of the other poets at the reading, his charisma won me over. I was impressed by the other three poets. Their work was legitimately stellar. They deserve to be published in literary journals of the utmost quality. Their sets were not devoid of personality either. However, as an equalizer, the unheralded poet brought us completely into his world—a world of drunken poetic rants written on bar napkins.

The point is that regardless of how accomplished you are or how subjectively good your work is when you give a reading or are at an open mic, you’d better knock the audience out. A bit after the reading, your audience will not remember the specifics of your work. They won’t remember all of the journals that have published your writing. They won’t remember your credentials. They will remember your presence.

Writing is a solitary effort. However, getting known as a writer can often involve the deepest interpersonal skills.

As discussed in previous posts, my decision to take poetry seriously was largely spurred on by my friend Russell Jaffe. In the excitement, I made a rookie mistake of focusing on the aspect of performance. I imagined a grand spectacle—reciting poetry in a drunken slur, cigarette hanging from my mouth in imitation of Anne Sexton or Chuck Bukowski. The greater task—writing good poetry—seemed to be outside of my mind.

Russell set me straight. While showmanship is important, it must be fused with content. You already are working to improve your writing. Now the next time you’re reading your work in public set out to leave an impression.

What have been your experiences with giving readings? I’d love to hear from you!