#MotivationMonday Setting the calendar

The beginning of my calendar making

It’s Monday, folks. In fact it’s the second Monday of the year. And if this is the year you promised yourself that you were going to get your writing off the ground, this is a good time to put some sort of game plan together. After all, the game plan is nearly everything and can give you the boost and motivation you need. So let’s start off this first of many #MotivationMondays off with a bang.

Let’s make a calendar!

Wait! Before you start taking out the magic markers, know that this is not about actually making a calendar. You can use Google calendar, the one on your tablet, computers, or, yes, if you want an excuse to use magic markers go ahead.

First step, go through publications such as Poets and Writers, Duotrope.com, and even Writer’s Market (online or print) to look for writing contents. There are a TON of them and most of them require a fee. So be judicious on which ones to enter because it can be expensive. Sprinkle a couple of the contests in your calendar for the year.

BEWARE! Some of the contests maybe bogus. Though they are advertised in legitimate publications, not all are what they seem to be. Do your research. You want to see how long the contests have been around, who the judges are, who are the past winners, and just ask around to some writer friends to see if they have heard of the contest. If the prize is too good to be true, watch out.

Now that you have those dates on your calendar, let’s look at literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. Before putting dates on the calendar, research the publication. Are they simpatico with your style? Are they the type that require a reading fee? Do they give feed back? How often do they publish? Is it a online journal or a paper publication? What happens if you do get chosen, payment with money or subscription? How about rights, first or serial? Answering these questions and others will help you decide which publications to place on your calendar.

How about your personal projects? Are you writing a book? Short story? A chap book? Give yourself a deadline for the first draft. Remember to be logical and realistic with your self-imposed deadline. If you’ve started writing a book Jan 1, it’s unrealistic to have a deadline of Feb. 15. If you want to give yourself chapter deadlines that’s fine. Unrealistic deadlines don’t get met and, essentially invalidates your efforts. Remember, the goal is to succeed.

This next step is probably the most important out of the entire exercise, write in, everyday, when your writing time is. It is extremely important to write everyday. That’s the discipline of writing and separates the writers from the hobbyists. Writers write. And we do it every day. But let’s also be realistic, you probably have a job, kids, school, and other responsibilities. I get it. I’m there but they aren’t excuses to write. You want to write, you need to find time but thankfully not a lot of time. One of my favorite mystery writers Nancy Pickard, said she would plot out part of her novel as she was waiting for her kids to be done with soccer practice or work on dialogue while washing the dishes. Another mystery writer, Walter Mosley writes in the morning, for an hour and a half, even on vacation. At one time poet and prose writer Chris Abani would write after his work day ended which was at 1 in the morning, penning pages at the Denny’s. Face it, none of us have the luxury of time so we have to make it work with our schedule and, yes, sacrifice a little. Maybe you skip an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or you don’t go home right away after the gym or work. Maybe you write on  your lunch hour. The important thing here is to write, every day, constantly. It’s a habit, folks.

By now you should have a full calendar. Look it over. At this point you can add or take away events based on your schedule. Remember to give yourself time to revise a piece several times before submitting.

There you go! A very concrete step toward your writing goal. Hope this helps! Let me know how it’s working for you

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