It’s October, the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year. Three months left. What have you accomplished this year? Are you ahead, behind or exactly where you want to be in your writing?
This year has gone quickly, hasn’t it? Soon it will be Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then 2013 is over. The weather is changing, the hours of daylight are decreasing, and there’s a real temptation to slack off, to coast to the end of the year. But I have a better idea. Let’s use those last three months, 90 days, to finish the year with a flourish. If we were football players running behind or only one touchdown ahead of the other team, would we relax in the fourth quarter? No way. We’d go all out to score some serious points. The game isn’t over until the last second ticks away.
Maybe this fourth-quarter push is why so many writing challenges occur in November. The most famous is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in which people engage in marathon writing sessions in an attempt to write a whole novel in a month. There are also several Poem-a-Day contests, the most famous of which is run by Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer. Engaging in one of these contests is one way to cram a lot of writing into a short time. I’ll probably do the poetry challenge again because I do get more poems written than I would otherwise.
But maybe you already have something else you need to be doing with your writing. Have you been working on a project that you’d like to get done by the end of the year? Is there something you’ve been meaning to start and haven’t yet? Did you really hope that you would sell more articles and earn more money this year? Sit down and have a staff meeting with yourself. You still have three months, one quarter of a year. What can you do in that time and what is your plan to get it done?
What’s our fourth-quarter strategy to win the writing game for this year, to approach New Year’s Eve knowing we’ve done our best?
If you’d like to tell us your plans in the comments, we’d love to hear them. Sharing your intentions may help you to follow through.
I still have a few copies of Freelancing for Newspapers available for just $10, including postage. Part of my fourth-quarter game plan is getting rid of excess book inventory. If you’d like a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been AWOL here quite a bit lately because I’m writing, writing, writing on a couple of new projects. Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read long blogs these days. So I’m going to try something different. Once a week I am going to offer three quick tips that you can take and use right away. I’ll probably throw in something longer occasionally, but otherwise, this will be a blog you can get in and out of quickly and go back to work.
Blogs for poets and other writers: Robert Lee Brewer, senior content editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, puts out two blogs, Poetic Asides, http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides, and My Name is Not Bob, http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com. At Poetic Asides, he offers prompts and inspiration for poets and hosts two annual poem-a-day challenges. Today at the Not Bob site, he has published a great list of blogs for writers.
This prompt from the November Poem-a-Day challenge blew my mind. It’s so logical, but it never occurred to me to do it. Take the last line of the last poem you wrote (or the last story) and use it as the first line of a new poem or story.
Ploughshares is a well-respected literary journal that has been publishing poetry, fiction, essays and memoir for many years. It’s a great market to aspire to and a great journal to read. Now they have gone into the digital world by not only making Ploughshares available for e-readers but offering what they call Ploughshares Solos, stories that are too short for a book and too long to fit in the magazine. Check it out at http://pshares.org.
Now go write.
I never heard so much poetry in one gulp as I heard last weekend at the third annual Northwest Poets’ Concord in beautiful Newport, Oregon. Approximately one hundred poets gathered to read their poems, write new ones, share techniques and sell books. I came home with drafts of several promising poems, some new books and some new ideas about this business of being a poet.
We all know, or should know, that you can’t make a living writing poetry. Only a few literary magazines and journals pay actual money for poems. Most pay in copies of the publication. You can make some money winning contests, but most charge entry fees, so if you don’t win, you’re actually losing money.
If we can’t make money writing poetry, why write it? Because it communicates in ways that nothing else can. It crystalizes experiences, ideas and events into word jewels that can be savored in one sitting and collected in book form like strings of precious beads. The average American probably doesn’t read much poetry, but it’s out there to be enjoyed.
There’s no reason you can’t write poetry while writing other things for money.
A world of resources exists for poets. Let me just give you a few today.
Poets and Writers magazine and website, http://www.pw.org. Poets and Writers offers tons of listings for contests and places to get published, along with lots of great information and an online forum to keep in touch with other writers.
The Poetic Asides blog, http://www.blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides. Robert Lee Brewer, editor of Writer’s Market and its sister Poet’s Market, blogs here about poetry, offering interviews and information, weekly prompts and bi-annual poem-a-day contests.
Poetry.org, resources for poets, http://www.poetry.org
Poems.com, a new poem to read every day, http://www.poems.com
It’s April, National Poetry Month. That means Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer is once again hosting the Poem a Day challenge. Each day this month, he will give a prompt at his Poetic Asides site. You can use it or write something else, but the idea is to write a poem every day. Writers can share their poems with each other in the comments section or just keep them to themselves. I have tried this several times, finishing twice. Brewer also does a Poem a Day challenge in November that leads to a chapbook competition. The rest of the year, he offers prompts on Wednesdays and lots of articles about poetry. Give it a try. There’s nothing to lose and new poems to gain.
Go write something!