© 2011 Jeff Adams
Ten hours into the new year and what have I done? Made a decision to write more. But resolutions and five dollars will get you a Starbucks. That’s about all.
Rather than unreachable goals, I prefer measurable strategies. Here are a few to stir your thinking.
Decide which publications you want to write for. We’re told at conferences to study and know our audience and market. But how can we do that? You know what you like to write and what you enjoy reading. Why not meld the two? Are there any publications you read that have articles or stories similar to what you write? Pick three. Write one query, tweak it for each editor, and send all three. While you’re waiting, write the article. Then when you get the answer, “Yes. I’d like to see your article,” submit it.
Think small, start small. If you’re just getting started or haven’t been published, don’t hunt big game—yet. Sharpen your aim by shooting for local, regional, and denominational magazines and limited or niche markets. When I began writing for publication, I wanted to write a book, but I had no idea how difficult that would be. Instead, I did what many successful people told me: start small. It worked. Pick your targets, aim, and fire. Don’t wait until you bag one to do it all again. But keep track of what works.
Write regularly. Email doesn’t count. And neither does almost everything else that’s not for paid publication (e.g. blogs, Facebook, Twitter.) You write better as you practice, but only if you care enough to submit your very best. How? Write devotionals for magazines such as The Upper Room. The point is to write something you can submit every week or two. Over the past 12 years, I’ve written more than 600 articles and stories. But I didn’t set out to do that. I simply committed to write one, then another and another, once a week.
Divide and conquer. Decide what you can do. Be reasonable but stretch yourself. Break down the project. Twelve chapters, twelve months or twelve weeks. If each chapter is 5000 words, that’s only 1000 words a day, five days a week. Get focused (make notes, use a tape recorder, create an outline or a storyboard—whatever works).
Rather than concoct feeble resolutions, develop a solid strategy and make 2011 the year you write.
Jeff Adams is a writer, teacher, inspirational speaker, and pastor. He was named the Sherwood Eliot Wirt Writer of the Year at the San Diego Christian Writers Guild in 2007. Jeff lives in Arizona with his wife Rosemary and their daughter Meaghan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on speaking topics.