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Category: Career Advice

Want to Publish a Short Story? Read My Guest Post on The Write Life

I wrote a guest piece for The Write Life on where to send your short stories so they actually get published. It can be intimidating to send out to prestigious places, and it can also be hard on the ego. So read my article for six ideas of places that will help your writer wings take flight.

Here’s an excerpt:

Here are six short story journals that publish amazing work — but also have acceptance rates that will put a smile on your face and your words out into the world.

Some of the publications listed below don’t pay and some pay only token amounts. But remember for us writers, “payment” doesn’t always look like money. Sometimes payment looks like a bullet on your resume, getting your name in front of a new audience, or (one that I think is incredibly important) putting a big checkmark in the win column that sends you running back to your keyboard.

Click here to read the full article.

A 4-Step Process for Creating a Lively Writing Practice

The biggest problem most aspiring writers face has nothing to do with technology, websites, social media, SEO, or anything of that stuff that sounds so complicated.

The biggest problem for most aspiring writers (and many working writers, to be honest) is simply sitting down to write. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but in practice it’s deceptively hard.

To solve this problem, I’ve created a four-step process to help my personal coaching clients develop a lively writing practice:

Step 1: Acknowledge that sitting down to write is hard, and stop making yourself wrong.

Give yourself permission to be human. Making ourselves feel bad about not writing isn’t going to help us feel good about writing in general. Tell yourself you’re sorry for making yourself wrong. It’s that simple. Just say it to yourself.

Done? Okay, moving forward.

Step 2: Treat yourself as well as you treat your clients.

Or, if that doesn’t work for you, try this one: Treat yourself as well as you treat your children.

When you schedule a slot for someone else in your life, you show up. You don’t cancel on a client unless serious stuff hits the fan and you don’t not show up for your kids. So take yourself that seriously. Schedule your writing sessions, and show up for them like you’re showing up for someone else.

Step 3: Create a proper environment.

If you can, have a dedicated “writing space.” A desk you sit at, a pillow you sit on, a certain table in a certain coffee shop, whatever it is. Go to that space when it’s writing time. Try not to go to that space when it’s not writing time. If you are consistent with this, eventually your body and mind will clue in that “when I go here I write.” It’s a little like litter box training, except hopefully you’ve created a nicer “writing space” for yourself then that.

Step 4: Create a ritual that signifies your writing session is starting and sets your mind.

Wear a certain sweatshirt. Drink a certain type of tea. Walk backward around the desk three times. Whatever it is. Have a sequence of things that puts you in the mindset of writing. I like to make and drink tea, sit on a pillow in a corner, read a short story or a couple articles about writing, then get to work. For you, maybe a few minutes of meditation focused on a writing or creative intention would be good? Maybe listening to a certain piece of music? Everybody has different rituals, so experiment in finding yours.

Writing won’t happen because you want it to. You need to take action to make writing space and time occur. Make a commitment to your writing times for the upcoming week. Sit there for thirty minutes each day staring at the wall if that’s what happens. Be okay with it, and know if you practice making space and time, the writing practice itself will soon follow.

Sign up for the next session of my class:

How to Write Meaningful Content for the Internet

 

The World Needs Meaningful Content, The World Needs You

Do you remember the first time someone read one of your stories and loved it? Do you remember how good you felt?

Now, think back. Did that person say, “Hey, kid. This story is great. Can I buy your notebook?”

Probably not.

It was probably more like, “Wow, you transported me to another world.” Or when you got a little older, it was, “You reminded me of when I lost someone, too.” And if you wrote something powerful, somebody might have said, “I don’t feel so alone. My life is different now. Thank you.”

That’s writing with impact – with meaning. It feels good to your audience, and it’s rewarding to you as the writer.

Writing meaningful content is powerful because it can:

  • Help someone achieve their dream career
  • Inspire someone to make a challenging decision
  • Encourage someone to make a healthier lifestyle choice
  • Motivate someone to declare a new goal
  • Activate someone’s curiosity in a whole new area of learning
  • Provide the tools someone needs to do that thing they’ve always wanted to do

Those are things worth doing – and worth inspiring in others.

It’s up to you to find the power to fuel your words. But here’s a big hint: power comes from passion. You’re most likely to be powerful in the same places you’re most passionate. Ask yourself, what drives you? What do you have to share?

Remember how much you loved writing those stories as a kid? How endlessly you imagined about the unicorns, or robot builders, or race car drivers? Find that kind of passion. That excitement that made you fill notebooks full of words, one after the next. Ignite that kind of passion in other people by touching them with your flame.

Meaningful Content Sells Better Than Meaningless

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “That’s great, and I do want to change the world, but I still need to sell my widget to keep a roof over my head.” Here’s the beauty of writing meaningful content: it doesn’t mean you can’t sell. It does mean you’re not just selling.

You’re writing to share information, to create connection, and to put something worthwhile into the world. You’re writing to provide people with tools. You’re writing to reveal opportunities and solve problems. You’re writing to make a difference and you are making a difference.

In the process you’re also creating authority, establishing expertise – and selling your widgets because you’re seen as someone who creates valuable, worthwhile things. One of these “things” is the act of doing good. You’re doing something good for somebody else somewhere in the world. Maybe multiple somebodies, in many places. That might not show up in the accounting books, but it should show up on some internal scorecard you’re keeping. Because making a difference counts for something. In fact, it counts for everything.

And the world needs more people checking that box on their scorecards.

Sign up for the next session of my class:

How to Write Meaningful Content for the Internet

 

How to Be Healthy Even Though You’re a Writer

Sometimes we replace bad habits with good habits. But more often than not, we replace good habits with other good habits. What I mean by that is, maybe you always wanted to have a daily writing habit. And now you’ve made a serious commitment, and you get up every morning to write your 750 words without fail.

But your morning run has gone by the wayside in the process.

Or you eat some sort of toaster pastry instead of making a healthy breakfast.

The time that you “created” for writing was really borrowed from a different positive habit. Your overall “win” column hasn’t actually progressed, you’ve just swapped one thing for another.

And now you kind of miss running. And you’re sick to death of the frosting on those nasty pastries.

Writing Makes Regular Life Hard.

Writing is a hard habit. And if you can make it a career, it’s a hard career. You’re by yourself most all of the time. You’re in charge of your own schedule. And you might really think that popcorn and hard cider make you more creative (who me?). Not to mention you’re sitting still all day as you work. Even if you’ve managed to progress yourself to a standing desk, you’re still standing in one place all day. And when your deadline gets moved up or you say “yes” to another gig, it’s just too easy to order delivery food and let the kettlebells get even more rusty out there in the rain on the porch.

You Have the Power. You’ve Done It Before.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Writers can be healthy people, too. I know this for a fact, for every single one of you. Because if you’ve created a writing habit, then you’ve overcome some of the nastiest, most overwhelming negative forces there are – those voices in your head. And if you can overcome those voices when it comes to writing, you can overcome them on every other front as well.

And in case you doubt me, I’ve got a plan. I’m making my comeback to being healthy on a daily basis, as well. My writing practice is strong, but muscles have been getting a vacation – and I’m going to change that. I’d love for you to join me in this new habit-forming, lifestyle-improving adventure.

I’m going to harness the power of The Whole Life Challenge. If you want to make a change in your health, then join my team. Make a commitment to swap a few bad lifestyle habits for good lifestyle habits.

Once you watch the video, then click here to read the Challenge FAQ and join me. Let’s get up and get out there. Yes, we can make a difference in other people’s lives with our writing – but we can also make a difference in our own lives with some simple, not-time-consuming daily habits. Habits like eating a little better, exercising for ten minutes per day, stretching, and drinking water. (Seriously, if you can write, you can totally do any of that! You probably spend more time procrastinating before you write than any of that actually takes!)

And if none of that grabs you, how about this:

The healthier we are…

…the longer we get to be on the planet.

And the longer we’re on this planet, the more words we get to write.

Editors Don’t Go Under Busses

I had a bit of a coaching conversation with someone who wrote for the website where I manage content. He seemed like a super cool person. (Always a plus.) And as soon as his article went up, he started responding to the commenters. (Awesome!) And then he threw me under the bus. (#$%@.)

He didn’t mean to. But that’s the thing. I don’t think most writers mean to, but they/we do it anyway. We’re so excited about our work and how it’s received, and at the first sign of something even remotely approaching a criticism, we spout off things like:

  • Don’t ask me, I didn’t choose that picture.
  • The editor changed my title.
  • The publisher marketed it wrong.
  • That’s not what I wrote. I don’t know how that happened.
  • I think that got messed up in publishing somehow.

So there’s this story-cloud of distancing and excuses you can whip up – and then there’s reality. And reality falls in one of two categories:

  1. You messed up.
  2. The editor/publisher messed up.

And guess what? Either way, you don’t complain. If you messed up, you need to own it. That’s all there is to say about that. If you’re not someone who can own your stuff, then you’ll be mighty hard to work with no matter the industry.

But you might be inclined to argue that you have a right to complain if the situation falls under category number two. And you might have some myserious “right” to – the editor/publisher/agent might have made a real mistake – but you still really shouldn’t ever publicly (or even socially) complain. And here’s why:

  1. Editors are people too.
  2. Publishing is a small, tiny, tiny, small world.
  3. You might like to keep working.

The other day someone signed up for my Internet writing class. Turns out I met him some half a dozen years ago at the gym I managed in Los Angeles, and then just recently he met one of the writers for Breaking Muscle…while in Thailand. How random is that?

It’s pretty random. And yet, it happened.

The publishing world is highly active on the Internet. Twitter is ROBUST with editors, agents, writers, and publishers. Do you think if you are unhappy with an article, book, or eBook, and you grouse about it on Twitter that someone won’t notice? Does it make sense to brag to your publisher about your reach on Facebook and then use it to complain about said publisher’s treatment of your work?

Do you think maybe, just maybe someone might worry about working with you if they see you complaining about your current and/or previous business relationships all over the web?

So let’s look over those three reasons not to complain on social media again.

  1. Editors are people too. – Give space for human beings to make human mistakes. Send your editor/publisher/agent a message and be respectful and mature about the situation.
  2. Publishing is a small, tiny, tiny, small world. – Big brother, big sister, Uncle George, and Cousin Suzie are all noticing what you said about Editor Joe.
  3. You might like to keep working. – Nobody wants to join Editor Joe under that bus. It’s nasty under there.

And then of course on top of all that is the nebulous AREA NUMBER FOUR. You know, the part where your editor/publisher/agent didn’t actually mess up at all, but you’re trying to cover your own a$$ so you just dump it all on them. How’s that for a big “thank you for getting me published and making my stuff better,” huh? You might not have realized it came across that way. But typically when we protect ourselves in a reactive, defensive state, we take someone else down in the process. Don’t do that.

So, to recap:

  • Editors notice.
  • Agents notice.
  • Publishers notice.
  • None of those people go under busses.
  • If you mess up, own it.

So what do you do when things go awry and you really think it’s not your fault?

If “they” messed up, send them a love letter and ask them if it’s fixable. If it’s not fixable, then go buy yourself something nice with the cash you took in exchange.*

*If you didn’t earn cash, then relish the exposure you earned because apparently you thought it was worth it.

Schoolbus photo by Nsyrbus (Own Work, By www.nsyrbus.webs.com) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Copyright 2015 Hunt Gather Brew