Do you wanna read my story?

Have you ever asked this question to anyone? No? You probably should.

Writing for ourselves, such as when you keep a journal, can be really satisfactory, even therapeutic, but if you dream of becoming a writer, that’s not exactly what you want, right? So, is there a proven way to get people to read your texts when you ask them to? No, not really. So, enough with the shame or fears of rejection and start doing it already! It’ll only get better!

A writer invests so much of their time and energy on work and often enough (somehow most writers are really shy), they don’t show it to anyone… That’s probably the worst thing you could do. You need some feedback and to face people, those who liked what you wrote and even those who didn’t. This will help you grow as a writer and prepare yourself for the next step: publishing.

It doesn’t really matter if you invited 10 people to read your story, but only one or two really followed through and did it. These are the important ones. Do not be discouraged.

Publishing a book is hard, and if you like to write short stories and poems it’s even definitely harder. So you need a previous publishing track record before you publish a book-length collection. So, first, you show your stories to close friends and family and ask for their opinion. Of course, they probably won’t be as objective as you’d like, but it’s a start. You can also post your work at blogs or your on-line page, if you have one.

Next step would be to send your best story or poem to some literary magazines or journals (if you don’t know any, you can research at libraries, book stores and even on-line, where you’ll find a lot of them that you can actually peruse or read for free). You will have to prepare yourself to deal with rejection, but as long as you keep writing and improving your work, eventually you will be accepted and this will build up that track record that we were talking about.

You have to choose carefully, not only carefully selecting some of your work which should be viewed, reviewed and improved many times before you even send it, but also when choosing the magazine itself, since there are plenty of those with many different target audience. You must choose the one which seems like a good fit for your writing, (which would mean, the one that publishes stories or poems, somewhat similar to yours) and carefully read their publishing guidelines.

You can find some of those magazines here.

Now, start showing off some of your work as soon as possible and no matter how many negative answers you end up receiving (most writers receive a lot during their career), you must keep in mind that these are just further opportunities to improve, to grow and above all else, more opportunities to show to everyone and mostly yourself, that you’ll never give up.

Literary Contests

This is something that you’ll definitely have to deal with, if you are or plan on becoming a writer. Plenty of people will talk to you and try to convince you to participate in something like that and you’ll have to think about it and decide what’s best for you.

I never have participated in one, for many reasons, laziness, fear of rejection… I don’t know, sometimes I’m just not into it. Maybe I’m not so interested in becoming a well-known writer as I thought I’d be. I really don’t know, but what I DO know is that these contests can be pretty important, especially, for a beginner.

If you really want to be a writer and, in time, perhaps be able to live off of the profits of some of your works, you definitely need to think about it. It will bring some new perspectives about your work and, hopefully, new opportunities for your career. Some very well-recognized authors started out like that, and it might be a way for you to get started as well.

First of all, this kind of contests will take you out of your comfort zone and that’s a great way to evolve as a person and a writer. Your work will be evaluated and compared to those of other authors and you will have a more accurate notion of the impact your writing is having on other people and where you should strive to improve or how you should invest your time into your work.

The contests have a deadline and this is important too. Sometimes, as any writer, you tend to procrastinate and leave something for ‘later’, which is understandable, since you might be tired or have other things you need to do… Well, the contest can teach you how to discipline yourself for the process of writing, something you must learn if you’re serious about becoming a writer, and this becoming your life.

And, of course, winning the contest would be great, not only providing you with motivation, but possibly also a prize since the majority of contests have prizes for the winners. That would be amazing. Yet, were you to lose, that’s actually when you learn the most.

As a writer, most of the time, you will experience plenty of rejection. Sometimes because the work wasn’t so good as you though, other times… the publisher just doesn’t want to invest money or your story is good but not really “fashionable”, or trendy enough, because even in literature, the public appeal is, unfortunately something to keep in mind. So you must deal with rejection all the time, and the sooner you learn to do it, without giving up, the better. The contests are of great help in this regard.

And, sure, you’ll never know who will be there. Some doors may open for you, or you might have some disappointment too, but… if you do not try, you’ll never know.

One Story, Multiple Stories

When you’re a writer, every single thought can be a potential idea for a story. You never know, which of those thoughts will actually make the story happen. They are simple, yet complex, plentiful and you can’t really use all of them, which turns out to be really frustrating.

So what should you do, when plenty of them seem good? How to work with it? How to deal with so much information? Should you try to merge or conciliate most of your ideas within a single story? Should you write different stories, and multiple ones at the same time? Should you ignore all the ideas that don’t seem to fit in with the story you’re currently writing? If so, how to choose the best ones?

There isn’t a definitive answer to these questions and, in the end, it’s your personal preference that matters and should prevail. However, there are plenty of reasons not to focus yourself on a single story or work. Let’s think about it, really.

When you spend all your energy on a single story, you mostly end up frustrated. It’s too much pressure that falls on a single goal and each requisite step to get there. Also, something that initially seemed to be a, or THE, great idea doesn’t always turn out to be that good when finally put on paper, or even be something that you’d love or want to work on, let alone finish. This feeling can be overwhelming and it ends up with you giving up your dream of writing.

In your writing career, many stories will never leave your computer or your desk and if you invest many a month, sometimes years in a single one of them, without having anything else… Well, it’s something that can really make you crazy, right?

Besides, it’s really boring to do the same thing all the time… Even if you really love your story and your ideas, there will come the day when you just can’t look at it anymore… It’s a natural process in any long term project and you can’t run from it. So, now what? After so many time spend writing it… What will you do? Give up? Of course not.

So, instead of putting all your efforts down on a single story, just one, instead try to have three or four ideas for different stories and just pick up the one that best fits your mood that day.

But! There are always a but, right? Please be careful, because this work methodology can also be a wonderful way of procrastinating. It needs constant attention on your end, to make sure you keep up with your work, stick to at least a semblance of a routine and change your plans any time it’s definitely needed.

Who says that you have to follow the very same schedule, for each of your stories, from the beginning until the end? 😉