- Bring It On. Networking—it’s not just for business majors anymore. Now there’s two fronts to tackle: the internet and the physical world. Check out Writer’s Digest’s annual Best Websites for Writers issue for the freshest tactics in social media’s Notice Me battle. Meanwhile, don’t discount actual face-time—get to know the local literary scene and get involved. Librarians, indie publishers, and fellow freelancers are all allies, as are community radio hosts and bookstore owners. Don’t be afraid to cold-contact strangers and offer to speak on-air or add your books to their collection. Self-promotion can make you feel like a carnival barker, but take their cue and flaunt some confidence. Introduce yourself as a writer, be friendly and professional, and use assertive, concrete statements when talking about your work. Being “that dependable person who wrote six short stories” will always get you farther than coming off as “that shambling human who mumbles about their little side project.” Whether online or off, confidence and consistency will build your brand, so your books can start speaking for themselves.
- Give Me A H-E-L-P. You’re out of coffee; the football game’s on TV; the cat keeps stealing your pens. There will always be reasons not to write, some more pressing than others. Finding the time and the motivation to keep going when all you want to do is binge-watch NCIS: Las Vegas is what will elevate you from Aspiring to Actual Writer. Reward systems work great for some, but they’re only as good as your own self-discipline. Heard that horrid phrase “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”? Well, nothing feels as good as accomplishment. Set a daily goal for yourself and stick to it, come hell, high water, or kleptomaniac cats. Whether it’s a whole project, one scene, or a word count, make sure it’s doable in a day and then, well… do it. The rush of relief and pride will be enough to keep you going until your new schedule becomes a habit—and if you fall off the wagon, forgive yourself and start over.
We all struggle with motivation. Find inspirational quotes and advice from your favorite authors. Find a buddy who will nag you towards the finish line. Writing may be solitary, but no one goes it entirely alone. And when you’re done writing, cloak yourself in confidence and go out and tell the world. In the words of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, “Always push your luck, because no one else will push it for you.”
Leah Merrill is a Kansas City native and author of more than six impossible things. Follow her on Twitter (@la_mer92) where she regularly avoids work, and be sure to check out her stories for Dreamspinner Press (under the pseudonym L.A. Merrill).