Writing it down and weighing it up

If you want to write anything for publication or pleasure may as well get yourself a notebook or exercise book depending on how mobile you are during the day.

Using a notebook, Dictaphone, or mobile phone somehow, may be good for people on the move. For writer’s in one place most of the time, all of those ways are good, but a writer in one place may use an exercise book effectively.

The idea is to write, jot, or note down what comes to mind, your inspirations, your thoughts, that may become stories, poems, articles, and so on.

But not every idea is worth its weight in gold.

When I’m in a critical frame of mind, there are ideas I see in my external environment, or whatever ideas I’m engaging with, that I may dismiss.

But if I reviewed the product I would give it a chance.

At the end of engaging in the product I may ask myself if the idea stacked up. Even asking that question is slanted on the negative. If one has to ask it, what does that say about the product?

The lesson of that is some ideas are always going to be poor and some are going to be good.

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Opportunity knocks

When I did a writing course, the tutor said to the class to ask the publisher for writer’s guidelines before one sent them a story. Don’t write the story and send it without reading the guidelines first, in other words. So, that’s what I did this week.

There are no online guidelines to access with the publisher I am interested in writing for so I sent them an email. An editor came back to me by email a few days later with some positive feedback. He would be interested in seeing some samples of my devotional writing. Opportunity knocks.

Looking closer

On the writing journey, there is at least one thing a writer can do to improve their work. It is to look closer at how they are putting something. Instinct to write is compelling, and then excitedly submit the work. The piece sounds okay or good, but look closer. Thinking twice can improve the piece no ends. Looking for ways to make the piece more interesting and compelling.

A time to cast away

A few months ago I wrote several devotions. They were intended for a publication I had in mind. After I wrote them, I waited. One may wait. How the writing sounds one moment may sound completely different two months later. Which means in two or three months (or a matter of weeks in other cases) that writing may be taken to the cleaners or it’s perfect as it is.

A good thing about waiting is that one can see the writing with fresh eyes later on. I hadn’t rushed ahead and submitted the writing straight away. And I realized, after letting the writing “marinate” for months later, that these devotions should be cast aside, put almost in the recycle bin, but not quite, because that would be disrespectful. So, I placed the devotions in another folder, to never see the light of day again.

 

A writer’s state of mind on a grey day

Bad days are gone, grey days instead. In the grey days there’s a sliver of hope.

The day may be grey. A rejection letter that sounded like a gentle let down. A letter from the editor that while the piece hasn’t been accepted, it’s on the short list. Tiny bits of encouragement woven in.

With that little bit of encouragement, one is encouraged to do more. There may be encouragement in a letter from the editor. The letter may be a rejection, but although this sounds funny, there’s the bit in the letter that says try again, send another one, and see how it goes.

The letter may say your piece is on the short list and the bit of encouragement is to feel free to submit something else in the meantime. That could be two pieces that get published or more.

So, with this encouragement one starts to conceive fanciful ideas. What will my next piece be about? How should I write it? Better be careful in writing it properly. It gives one a bit of hope that the next time the editor sends you an email, it may be good news. It gives you the steam to write something else.

Not easy

It is not an easy road getting published, but I had some good news about a month ago that a meditation I submitted to a journal is being seriously considered. It has passed the “first round” or phase one and is on the short list as it was. The outcome, I’ve been told, will take quite a while, which goes to show how rigorous getting selected for publication can be. Not easy. Many other devotional pieces are in the same boat, but only a few survive.

Exploring a new writing genre: an overview

While on the road of writing, if it’s full-time, part-time, casual, or as one can write in-between the necessities of life, sometimes there’s the urge to reach beyond the boundaries of one’s normal genres of writing. I’ve desired it and tried it, but tended to fall back on the predictable or the road well-travelled.

I call this writing experimentation “writing exercises”, like we did at school. A writing exercise has a time-frame to complete, a certain amount of words to finish, and is a certain genre. At the end one discovers if one is going to realistically be a writer in that genre. I’m not quite there yet at discovering it. It takes time.

One try at writing in a new genre may not be enough unless you’re a natural and can get published with a lot of luck or predestination. Keep on doing writing exercises until your are reasonably sure that it may work or that it does not look like working. Get a neutral person to read it and get feedback, someone who can be objective.

Of course, one may do writing exercises after a certain setback in the genre of writing you’re exploring. A piece was rejected, say, and one mustn’t be rejected again, so has got to get it right. Or one is ambitious and uncertain how a piece will be received.

As long as one does the best one can do at the new genre, if one has the time and commitment to do so. At some stage one will see where one’s writing in a new genre will lead.

Maybe the difference in getting published or not in a new genre is not the quality of work itself, but the gaining of an opportunity or not. So, know yourself if a piece of writing in a new genre you’re exploring is good or not.

You can only know you did your upmost best, published or unpublished.

As the photo in this post explains in pictures: writing can be pain whichever stage you are at, be that practising writing or getting rejected. But with a long awaited opportunity comes joy. Without an opportunity is pain, but although it’s easy for me to say, one must bear it and come to terms with it. There is another plan or road to travel.

Distractions

I was reading a book about screenwriting by Oscar winning screenwriters and in that book there’s one bit of content I remember well. American Beauty Alan Ball said he put off his writing project by cleaning his fridge. I know the feeling. One would sooner delay instead of dealing with the hard stuff.

Once one gets into the project and distraction becomes energy and activity, the challenge is getting it sounding right. There may be no right and wrong ways, but turning distraction into something which produces writing that’s at least readable are steps in the right direction.

A moment of clarity

There’s nothing like the feeling of relief when you know you’re done and dusted on something that had been following you around like an obsessive fan. But then you’re done with it–one can put that side of writing aside–and focus on what goes better. You juts know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that side of writing is not the way to go. So, out it goes, and in goes what’s going to work better. In fact, it’s so major that it’s sheer peace to know it’s over.

Meditation

Submitted a short ‘meditation’. On the surface of it, I wouldn’t have called it a meditation, though.

Why wouldn’t have I called it a meditation? Because it is meant to increase devotion to God so is a ‘devotion’.

But calling it a meditation is fine with me. ‘Meditation’ sounds good.

Anyhow, it’s a piece about mediating on godly things or God, so in the case there is not much difference between meditation and devotion.