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I did it! It feels strange to be sharing my writing so publicly, but I'm glad that I went through with it. I ended up submitting one poem I wrote based off of the writing prompts I used for this project, as well as two other pieces that I've written in the past. I read on the competition web page that the judges will provide a short response to each entry. More than anything, I'm looking forward to some professional feedback on my work!
I spent a bit of time today at a local Starbucks flipping through a few more of the prompts in my book. Here's what I came up with:
The IKEA prompt is something I might turn into a silly poem just for the fun of it - but the prompt starting with the title of my favorite song might be something that I want to attempt to publish in the future. The third writing task about a conversation I regret never having was also intriguing. It gave me the chance to think about questions that I've always wanted to ask certain family members. Today I found three completely different prompts which I took in entirely different directions - but they all pulled on some aspect of my creativity.
Once again, these are all just ideas in their beginning stages, but they were all really fun to try out!
Also, I have decided how I'm going to approach getting my work published. I'm going to enter the Writer's Digest Annual Competition!
I think writing competitions would be a good first step into the realm of publishing writing. My writing has a long way to go, and I still have to develop writing as a routine in my life. In addition to posting on my blog, I feel that this would be a good way for me to get my work out into the world. I feel much more comfortable writing shorter pieces than I do pursuing the creation of a novel - so here's where I will start!
I'm looking forward to finishing up this 20% Project journey! Stay tuned!
Now that I have started putting pen to paper, I decided to do a little more research to help me as I make my decision about which draft to turn into a short story. The neat thing about the Writer's Digest website is that they divide their articles by writing goal, writing genre, and the point where you are in your writing. Professional writers and editors all contribute to the site, writing articles that reflect their personal experience and expertise.
Here are some of the resources I've come across that I have found helpful:
"Knowing When to Stop: Expectations for a Satisfying Ending"
Writer's Digest: Rachel Scheller
In my own writing experience, I have struggled with writing the endings to my stories so I was excited to read this article. One of the key points Scheller makes is: "failing to end their novels when the struggles are over is [a] mistake beginning novelists often make." I may not be writing a novel, but this quote speaks to me. It's important for me to understand the problem in my story, and to stop writing once that conflict has been resolved.
Scheller also makes a case against ambiguity in the ending of a story, while at the same time making sure that the ending isn't too perfect. She also reminds writers that it is important to put yourself in the shoes of your readers, and to have a thorough understanding of what you have led them to expect from your ending. It is important to keep in mind the "anticipation" you build as you write, because your ending has to find a way to satisfy it for your readers. These are all very useful pieces of advice that I will consider as I complete my final story.
"Fruitless First Drafts"
This article was PERFECT - exactly what I needed to give me a little extra motivation to proceed with my writing. In the article, Cris Freese shares writer Dan J. Fiore's thoughts about the struggles of putting together a first draft. Fiore was the winner of one of the Writer's Digest competitions, so I was excited to read what he had to say.
One of the points Fiore made that I liked was, "your first draft is all about story." I know from my own experience that I tend to create road blocks for myself, even as I'm writing a brainstorm. I need to stop holding myself back in the beginning of the writing process and let the ideas make their way onto paper - I can pick them apart later, once they've been set free.
Fiore goes on to stress that it is important for your writing voice to be your own, and not worrying about the chronological order of your story or its specific structure as your begin to write it. "Your first draft sucks," he say, telling writers to stop worrying about the first draft not being good enough - because it isn't, and it's not supposed to be.
I'm going to re-read this article before I start putting my final story together. It's a great reminder that: "when in doubt, just continue with the story."
I'm going to explore a few more prompts this week, and then start working on my final story this weekend. Wish me luck! :)
I've had to re-evaluate my original goals for my 20% Project quite a bit over the past two weeks or so. My plan was, at first, to complete three of the prompts in my book a week. Needless to say, I haven't been so successful in that department.
Part of the problem, in addition to being extremely busy, was the fact that I wasn't satisfied with the first prompt I picked. I couldn't figure out where I wanted to take it, and it made me not want to write about it.
Ultimately, I scrapped the original idea I had to write about my experience in Korea (in the context of the writing prompt I chose). I was disappointed in myself at first, but I realized that this is part of the writing process - brainstorming, coming up with ideas, and being willing to abandon them and move on to something new that does engage and excite you.
Finally, today, I MADE time to write.
I was subbing for my Cooperating Teacher, so during my prep period I had a quiet, empty classroom all by myself. I sat by the window, pulled out my book, and I flipped through the pages until I found some prompts that intrigued me.
Here's what I came up with:
These are in no way complete stories. They're ideas that I could potentially expand on to turn into the story I want to submit for publishing. I'm most attached to the prompt about Argentina, but I am open to exploring the others as well.
I can't even begin tell you how much FUN it was to sit down and write. I realize how much I truly miss it. I'm going to try and get some more prompts done this weekend, as well as a little bit of research about brainstorming ideas and the writing process. I can't wait!
PS. I apologize if my handwriting is messy :)
So this 20% Project is off to a rougher start than I had hoped for, but today I read a really helpful article (CLICK HERE) that shared "7 Tips for Shaping Your Writing Career." One piece of advice author Frances Kazan gives writers is to develop a routine - a time where you sit down to write at least once a day.
I'm going to try this out starting tomorrow! Hopefully I can get a couple ideas down in the next few days to make up for my hiatus.
In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of some of the hilarious things my Korean high school students said/did/created during my time as their English teacher. This is only a small portion of the quotes I have saved - if you want to see more let me know!
Writer's Digest: "How (& Where) to Get a Short Story Published"
I thought it was also time to start exploring the steps to getting my work published.
The Writer's Digest published the article, "How (& Where) to Get a Short Story Published" (LINK HERE) back in 2012. It was written by guest columnist Michael Kardos, and it provides a nice overview of some of the steps to consider on the road to publication.
Options for WHERE to publish a short story include: Literary (and Online) Journals, Magazines, Anthologies, and Short Story Collections. Each of these choices vary, as individual journals and magazines have their own writing style and/or genre that they gravitate towards.
Before I decide where to submit my work, Kardos explains that it is critical for me to do some research and actually read the work that is printed in these publications. Not only will this provide me with more creative inspiration, but it will also help me to see whether or not my work fits in with what the anthology or collection tends to produce.
One of the most important things that Kardos stresses is that most work that gets submitted to a journal gets rejected. Rejection is normal, frequent, and should not be taken personally. I think I found my new mantra...
I feel like this article has provided me with a good foundation with regards to publishing, and something to keep in mind as I get closer to the end of my project. I will have to add reading through different journals, magazines, and collections to my list of things to research!