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Know Your Writing for Less Stress and More Profit
by Kathryn Lay

We have heard the expressions, “Know thyself” and “To thine own self be true.”

This is important in the area of writing, especially if you want to see those acceptances, checks, and bylines coming in your mail.

Many of my writing sales have come from knowing my writing projects, my interest, styles, abilities, and so on. No one knows my writing better than me. They may critique it, judge it, applaud it, or criticize it, but they do not fully know my abilities and what I truly can do well because something calls to my writing soul.

When your understanding of the areas of your writing is confusing, it’s easy too be stressful about writing and marketing, which leads to the inability to write and market, which leads to less profit.

  1. Know What You Have:

    If learn about a new market or a market looking for something specific and needs it fast, do you know what you have in your writing folders well enough to find it?

    When a friend at a writer’s meeting mentioned that she knew of a big name children’s writer looking for short stories for an anthology about unicorns, I knew I had a story in my files of short stories that might fit. I was able to quickly tweak it and send it in. The story was accepted into the anthology and netted me a nice advance and years of royalties.

    Once a month when I have my ‘Marketing Day’, I look over my files of articles and stories and essays to remind myself of pieces that are available or pieces that I could send out quickly for reprint rights. When I learn of an anthology looking for a specific topic, I usually know quickly if I have something on that topic or not.

  2. Know Your Abilities:

    I’m good at writing on deadlines and writing quickly. So I don’t mind last minute writing assignments or work-for-hire that has a quick turnaround time. I love dead-lined contests and theme lists where there is a specific date for my work to be turned in. I have many writer friends who are stressed by such things and would never seek out these type of things that I find an enjoying challenge. I also know that I am not a huge fan of lengthy research. Others I know love to spend the majority of their writing time preparing for the piece.

    Because I know this about myself, I am more likely to choose something that takes less time to research or prepare, yet might have to be written and turned in quickly.

  3. Know Your Interests:

    I love writing personal experience essays and pieces for children. I don’t read romance stories or westerns pieces or in-depth political pieces.  Therefore, I’d never write this kind of thing, not because there is something wrong with them, only because they aren’t in my area of interest.

    Think about the type of things you read. Most often, those are the type of things you are more interested in writing. Make a list of all the areas you like writing – travel pieces, humorous essays, medical articles… Trim that list to the areas that really float your boat and watch for markets and opportunities in these areas.

  4. Know Your Weaknesses:

    One of my main writing weaknesses is flitting from project to project. This can be a productive thing at times, but other times it keeps me from completing something because I’m excited about the next ‘shiny object’ that comes along in my writing queue. Therefore, when I get something that is on a quick deadline, I take all the other writing files and projects off my desk and focus on this one project until it’s done. Then I know I can go back to my variety of projects with a clear writing conscience.

    What is your writing weakness? What is your marketing weakness? Learning to overcome that area will often strengthen your productivity.

  5. Know Your Strengths:

    When you discover what your real writing strength is, you can use it to overcome weak areas and build your completed projects, your marketing plans, and ultimately your sales.

    Maybe your strength is in locating markets, but not in writing query letters. Take a course on query letters to help you improve that strength. Or work with a writer friend who writes tantalizing query letters but is not good at perusing markets. Your strengths  can help one another.

By knowing your writing and your writing-self, you can work toward a writing career that is more profitable and less stressful.

© Copyright 2010, Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through rlay15@aol.com

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