OK, so for most of this month I’ve been encouraging you to write, write, and nothing but write. No thoughts of publication or audience to scare you into writers’ block. But you’ve been at this for 24 days now. I think you’ve probably proved a thing or two to yourself (like a, you’re stubborn; b, not everything you write is garbage and c, you can do this!). So today, just for a moment, let’s remember that part of writing is a desire to connect with other people. We can do that by having our work published in magazines that already have a reading-audience built in.
Find a contest or submission deadline on a theme you like, and write a story as if you were going to submit to that market
- You don’t have to submit the story in the end (and if you do, you probably shouldn’t submit the version you write today. Put it away for a couple of weeks, show it to writing-friends, revise it, format it according to the market’s guidelines and then send it).
- You can find market and contest listings at Duotrope.com, WritersMarket.com (subscription), Poets & Writers and many, many other places online. I have subscription to Duotrope and find it to be the best managed market listings site I’ve come across in almost 20 years of using the things.
- Go beyond the obvious ideas suggested by the theme or guidelines. Try out several different characters and scenarios. Push your ideas into the realms of the ridiculous and beyond, before you ever start writing one of them. Remember, editors are going for receive hundreds of entries for every publishing slot they have. Your best bet is to be original. Part of that is your voice, but part of it is your ability to push past the first, obvious idea you have.
How did writing to spec or with a deadline, feel? Did you find a market that seemed particularly promising? Did you choose a contest with an upcoming deadline? Share them (if you dare) in the comments or the community.