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Cashing in On Writer's Block
by Kathryn Lay
For whatever reason, we creative souls sometimes find ourselves blocked. Whether it’s a lack of ideas or frustrating with a current writing project or the changes in the market; feeling blocked is a painful and frustrating part of the writer life.
But don’t let these things rob you of chances to sell your writing. Use it for profit, rather than let it use you by setting aside all writing activity.
- Change over to a different project. If it’s a specific piece you are working on that is getting you down, use the time to step away and begin something new or rewrite something old. Sometimes I’m at a point in a book project where it is eating my lunch. I can’t figure out how to get to where I need to go next, my enthusiasm has slipped away, my characters have suddenly gone flat.
Getting away from it for a day, a week, or even longer can be creative medicine. When I am ready to get back to working on it, the project is still there waiting and I’m recharged by other writing projects and feeling better about diving back into this one.
- Study publications and market guides. Use your creative down time to make market lists and idea lists. This is an important part of your writing too, but isn’t intimidating as far as feeling like you must be creative.
It’s the perfect time to study markets you’ve perhaps been interested in approaching. It’s a great time to look over magazines or books and start an idea list. A new idea may spark your creative juices once more and you find you can’t wait to dive into a new project.
After a discouraging rejection that left me emotionally drained and not wanting to work on any of my writing projects, I decided to look over a market someone had mentioned to me a while back. It was a daily devotional for children that used a short story to illustrate the Bible verse. I joined the site and began receiving the daily devotionals. After a couple of weeks, I printed each one off and read them. Then I spent time making a list of ideas, picked one, wrote it and submitted it. I was surprised and delighted four days later to get an acceptance. My belief in my writing ability got a shot in the arm and I jumped back into writing.
- Write about something that is happening to you right now. If you are feeling blocked, then picking something that happened to you, a moment or event, and write it start to finish. Maybe you’ll write it as an essay, a nonfiction self-help article, or a short story--maybe even all three.
Several years ago after my husband gave a family who were walking along the road a ride from one highway to the next, I wrote an essay about it. The piece sold several times. Then I wrote an article about helping others on the spur of the moment and it sold. Later, I rewrote the event as a short story and sold it too, more than once.
- Resell. Another non-creative writing activity is going through your published pieces. You can take that needed creative break and market pieces that you’ve already written and sold. Use this time to look at markets that take reprint or one-time rights.
I’ve often sold one article or essay to a variety of different religious publications, each one a non-competing market (different denominations). Or submit them to an anthology.
- Remarket. Look over those pieces that maybe you’ve only sent out once and resend them. Last year I took a short story I wrote more than ten years ago. Sent it to the same market I had written it for back then. Three weeks later got an email they were accepting it. I hadn’t changed a word, but time and their needs changed.
Writer’s Block can be painful, but it’s not terminal. Take advantage of that time and make some sales, fine some markets, and discover new ideas.
© 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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