Monday, September 24, 2012

How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 3

One way you can maintain your career as a writer is to try to do at least one thing each day that advances your writing. Here are a few suggestions:

1)    begin a completely new piece of writing
2)    continue writing a piece you’ve already started
3)    edit a piece of writing you’ve already begun
4)    make notes for a writing project you’d like to begin
5)    do research for a piece of writing you plan to start or add to
6)    read the work of a writer you’ve heard about but haven’t read
7)    reread a favorite work
8)    buy a lottery ticket (just kidding!)
9)    attend a reading
10) attend a workshop or a writer’s group
11)  read a literary magazine you’ve never read
12)  submit your work to a magazine
13) research contests you might want to enter
14) send your work to a literary contest
15) have a conversation with another writer about your work or their work or the work of a writer you’ve been reading or they’ve been reading.
16)  read a work of literary criticism or biography about a writer you want to know more about
17)  apply for a grant
18) buy a gun and hold up a bank (just checking to see if you’re still with me) 
19)  apply for a writer’s residency or retreat
20)  research reading series
21)  contact a reading series to set up a reading
22)  research possible book publishers
23)  send a query to a possible book publisher
24)  follow up on emails or letters sent to you from magazines or publishers or reading series
25)  research jobs teaching writing and/or literature
26)  apply for jobs teaching writing and/or literature
27)  teach a class or workshop on writing or literature
28)  write a book review
29)  write an article on a writer whose work intrigues you
30)  write an anonymous hate letter to a writer whose work you don’t like (just kidding again!)
31)  collaborate with other artists such as musicians, actors, visual artists, filmmakers, etc.
32)  negotiate a contract for a book or a reading
33)  write a blog on your art or on art in general
34)  start or add to a Facebook page that includes news about your writing

As you can see, very few of these suggestions actually involve creativity, with the exception of figuring out how to rob a bank. While it’s desirable to be creative as often as possible, few of us have the spark to do that every hour of every single day. But your creative downtime can be your active time for getting your work to your audience, or for finding the time or resources to continue writing. The business of writing is also an important part of being a creative artist. The students I’ve taught who’ve continued as writers are mostly the ones who also pay attention to the other work, getting their writing to readers and obtaining resources to keep going.

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