Thursday, December 24, 2009

Finding focus

I don't know about you, but as much as I appreciate festive foods, family visits, goodwill toward all, holiday carols, and a stocking full of fun, I dread this time of the year. It's not because I'm a Grinch or a Scrooge either. My desire to stay focused as a writer has much more to do with it.

The best way for me to deal with the holiday slump is to continue meeting for critiques with other willing and able writers. A deadline is a deadline and I will lose sleep to meet it. If I'm not able to find that quiet space in my head to write new material then I go to revising, which often gives me new ideas about what's happening in a story. And last, if revising isn't the ticket, I read, read, read (even if it's only in ten minute snatches). It's a great time to research whatever novel you're involved in or the one on the back burner of your brain. If you can't concentrate on the reading either, go for online agent research or just keeping up on your favorite blog. Scale back on your expectations a bit and you'll be able to spread yourself further. But more than anything else, don't lose hope or give up, the New Year is nearly here and I'm ready for it!

Does your writing take a big punch to the gut at this time of the year? How do you stay on track with your projects?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Take the Contest or Leave It?

I've recently entered a writing contest for the first time, written a short story but then didn't submit it to another contest (for various reasons), and have been thinking about the value of those excitement-making but perhaps unsubstantiated pursuits called WRITING CONTESTS.

As timely as ever, Nathan Bransford approaches this topic and has some good advice.

For me, I've decided to use writing contests as a way to motivate myself to work on specific topics, themes, or even formats. Why not? But like Bransford suggests, read the fine print.

How about you? Have you ever entered a writing contest? Any winners? Why did you do it?