Just in time for resolution-making, here are some motivation tips to help you write more and sell more. Most are not original with me. Some were picked up from books or the Internet, some from other writers and editors. Whenever possible, I’ve included sources for specific tips.
1. Keep a writing journal—that’s one of the top suggestions from many writers who think that journaling has a direct effect on motivation. They advise you to record what you’re already achieved and what you hope to achieve in the future, and to reread those entries when you need motivation. Journaling can lead to new ideas, new directions and renewed interest in your writing goals
2. Make use of writing prompts. A single word or phrase may give you an idea for a full-fledged article and may motivate you to write additional articles or stories. Author and speaker Susan Taylor Brown says you can gain motivation also by reading interviews with authors and watching movies about writers. Her site has writing prompts and exercises, links to hundreds of author interviews, quotes about writing, and a list of 200 movies about some aspect of writing or writers.
3. Find a writing partner. Two people writing in tandem may produce better results than two people writing separately, and talking with another writer can motivate both of you to be more productive. As a single writer, you may put off writing today. If both of you have made a pact to write for 30 minutes a day on a project, you’re likely to start writing and follow through so as not to disappoint your writing partner.
4. Go somewhere and do something different. The excitement of a new place or a new activity generates its own motivation. Back at your computer, use your five senses to recapture vivid details of your adventure.
5. Go back to school. A writing class at a local university or community college can be a powerful motivator. Look for workshop-type classes that will give you a chance to know other writers. Make it a point to discuss your writing with others who have writing goals similar to yours. Ask your instructor how you might become more motivated.
6. Make deadlines for yourself and stick to them (a great practice for when you actually have to meet editors’ deadlines later on). Write your deadlines down and post them in a prominent place near the computer where you must see them every day. The calendar (or a ticking clock) can be a great motivator.
7. Consider the words of motivational speaker, Kelly James-Enger, a freelance journalist, writing instructor and author (Six Figure Freelancing; Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money). In her Writer’s Handbook article, “Freelancing 101,” she says the most effective way to stay motivated is to set two types of goals for your writing.
“Set an outcome goal and then design production goals to get you there. An outcome goal is often what you’re striving for in terms of publishing your work. It might be, ‘I’ll publish my work in a national magazine.’ A production goal, on the other hand, is a small, measureable, specific goal that will help you reach your outcome goal — like ‘I will send out three queries each month,’ or ‘I will write for 30 minutes every day.’
When you’re writing for publication, you need both. The production goals, although seemingly minor, will help keep you on target to reach your outcome goals. They also give you a way to track your progress. After six months of sending out queries, for example, you may not reach your goal of being published in a national magazine (yet), but you will have met your production goal of writing every day. That kind of success helps keep you on track — while making you a better writer and improving your chances of getting published in the process.”
All the tips are good ways to help keep your motivation high. They’d also make excellent writing resolutions. I plan to use some of them and I hope you will, too. Happy New Year and much success with your writing in 2008!
Be sure to check out the current post on The Renegade Writer, where Linda Formicelli has reprinted her Writer’s Digest article, “Waiting for Dollars: Pay on Pub vs. Pay on Acceptance.” It’s a must-read for freelancers, whether you write fiction or nonfiction.
Linda gives both sides of a situation that writers face every day — whether to write for magazines that pay on publication or for those that pay when an article is accepted. It’s a fair and balanced piece, and I found it enlightening that editors revealed why they pay on publication or why they do not. Despite what many writers may believe, paying on publication is not always an arbitrary decision.
On the writer’s side, Linda includes responses from current and former freelancers and representatives of the National Writers Union and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, in which they share their views about accepting assignments from pay-on-publication magazines. Sometimes writers must wait six months or more to be paid. What’s more, writers can’t even sell reprints of their articles until they have actually been published, limiting their ability to make money on their work.
Linda’s article offers negotiating tactics and ways writers can lessen their risk of getting burned when magazines go out of business, plus advice on how to play it smart and profit from writing for pay-on-publication magazines.
Everything Linda writes is first-rate and this article is no exception. After you read it, please let us know about your experience with (and your thoughts about) pay-on-publication and pay-on-acceptance magazines.
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When do you use affect? When do you use effect?
Those questions came from a young relative who is having trouble remembering when to use which word in his sentences. He is still smarting from a grade on his latest English paper, so I agreed to help. I had the affect/effect problem at one time, until someone wiser than I provided a solution that worked for me.
Here’s what that mentor taught me years ago (but updated with examples that a sports-savvy youngster of today can understand):
“Affect” as a verb means to influence — as in “Losing the game will affect (influence or have an influence on) the team’s standings in the league.
“Effect” as a verb means to bring about or cause — as in “The players were able to effect (bring about) a change in the schedule.”
“Effect” as a noun means result — as in “A knee injury can be one effect (result) of the lack of practice.”
If he plugs those meanings into his sentences, my young relative may find it easier to keep his affects and his effects straight. And that may affect his next English grade.
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