Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

I am shy by nature. It is not always easy for me to go to a place with lots of people or walk up to someone one on one and start networking. However, I have found that the only way I can accomplish many of my goals is by stepping out of my comfort zone and making contact with others around me.

I found this very beneficial lately when it came time to find book reviewers for my new alphabet book that is scheduled to come out in the Fall of 2009. I didn’t know a whole lot of people who had a historical background who could be a reviewer. But when I started thinking about some possible choices, I came up with a non-profit organization whose goal is to preserve the true history of our nation. I wrote a brief e-mail explaining who I was, how I was aware of their group, and the purpose for my e-mail. Shortly afterward, I received a return e-mail stating that one of their speakers would love to review the book.

That same speaker was scheduled to speak at my church this past weekend. I was nervous, but after service I stepped out of my comfort zone again and went to introduce myself. I also wanted to thank him for his willingness to review my book. No sooner had I told him who I was and about his reviewing my book, then he immediately told me that I had to go on his radio program! I mentioned that the book wasn’t due until the following fall, but that didn’t deter him one bit. He still wants me to be on his show!

Talk about a blessing! By my pushing aside my shyness, I got a reviewer and a radio interview for the future! This would not have come about if I hadn’t stepped out and stepped forward.

Do you need to get out of your comfort zone to accomplish something in your writing career? Take a deep breath and make the move. You may be very pleased with the results!

 

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Ideas

Today I had a meeting with the Idea Team of the church newsletter I write for. We took our theme and brainstormed. It was fun to take a strand of thought and turn it something creative and potentially usable. Our minds were stimulated by the exchange, allowing the ideas to flow freely. We walked away with at least 20 ways to use that one theme for the next issue.

It would be nice if all our ideas flowed so easily. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with something to write. To help me in my creativity, I start looking at the world around me.

Depending where I am at the time I write, I try to see my surroundings through the eyes of my audience. If I’m writing for children, I try to see things from their perspective. If I’m at the park, I may think about how kids play together or what conversation a six year old would have with a new child at the swings. If I’m writing for adults, I may consider what people do with their time while they wait for a doctor’s visit.

Keeping a notebook is an easy way to keep track of ideas. I try to have several available at different places so I can have paper and pen handy for that stray idea that comes charging out at unexpected times.

Overheard conversations are great idea makers. I don’t like to easedrop, but there are occasions, like in the line of the supermarket, or waiting for the kids to get out of school, where conversations can’t help but be listened to. Something funny someone said, or the telling of a situation, could be great fuel for the creative process.

Use an index card holder to keep track of your written ideas or to paste cut-out pictures on 3 x 5 cards. When you need something to write about, randomly pull out a picture or one of your notes and start writing.

Ideas are all around us. Take some time to sit or take a walk and observe. The brain should start generating some ideas soon.

Dealing With Rejection

You slave over your manuscript, pouring countless hours into developing, editing, and fine tuning. When you finally mail your masterpiece out, you hope and pray that it will meet with success. Weeks, even months, go by. Then one day you finally receive an envelope from the publisher. You have one shimmer of hope as you tear the envelope open, only to find a form rejection letter saying something to the effect: “Thank you for your article. Unfortunately it does not meet our current needs.” You sigh, grab a tack, and pin your rejection letter onto the wall amidst countless others.

As writers we all face rejection. My submissions list shows all the manuscripts and articles I have sent out to various editors with the majority of them having been rejected. I used to get discouraged until my best friend reminded me, “A rejection letter just means you are one step closer to publication.”

If I choose to look at the negatives of my rejections, I will feel as if I wasted my energy. I can wallow in my disappointment and my productivity will slow down. If I look at my rejections in a positive light, then I feel I am one step closer to my goals. Each manuscript I work on helps my writing develop, so eventually I know I will match someone’s ideals. I will not give up.

One way to handle rejection is to write something for fun and for free. Write an article for a newsletter or Sunday School class. Volunteer to help write the school play. Find some avenue to exercise your writing so that when your rejections come (and they will come!), then you can still have an area where someone appreciates your work.

Writing isn’t easy. But if you know it is your calling, then you must learn to deal with the rejections. Keep positive. Keep trying. One day your dream of becoming a writer will become the reality you have been waiting for.

Setting Short Term Goals

As a beginning writer it’s important to set short term goals. This way you can ease yourself into a writing routine. Start out by setting aside ten minutes each day to write. Try to set that ten minutes for the same time each day. After two weeks increase the time to twenty minutes. Continue this pattern until you have developed the writing schedule that works best for you.

If you cannot continuously write for long periods of time, break it up into different segments throughout the day. The point is to comfortably build in and build up your daily writing time.

Next, start developing your publishing credits. We already discussed Writers’ Guides in To Market, To Market. Look into the Magazine section of your guide and start noting the ones you’d like to submit to. Study their guidelines, and then set a goal to write one article every two weeks. Then send out your articles!

Taking short, easy steps will give you the discipline you need to develop your writing routine. Looking at your goals in small segments will allow you to gain the confidence you need to pursue publication.

Signed

I finally signed my first children’s book contract. What an exciting feeling! I almost don’t believe it’s happened. One of the dreams of a writer is to be published anywhere. But to get a book contract–well, it’s amazing.

Some people may say I’m lucky because I caught the attention of a publisher and now a book is under way. I don’t call it luck. I call it Providential. Nothing in life is by accident or luck. God knew from the beginning of time that I would come along in this time period and that I would eventually become a writer.

Yes, I had to put in the hard work of studying and researching how to put my thoughts and ideas onto paper, but it was God who gave me the ability to learn. He is the one Who I trusted to direct my paths.

So, I thank God that He has allowed me to write, and I thank Him that on April 2, 2008 I signed my first book contract. Hopefully, it won’t be my last.