Planning Your 2023 Writing Submissions – Ten Tips

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It’s that time of the year again. Right now you’ll be rushing towards getting all loose ends tied up in time for the Christmas break (unless you’re self employed in which case I salute your ambitions to have any time off at Christmas). But now is also the time to start thinking about how you will go about moving your writing forward in 2023. Here are ten top tips top help you get yourself sorted on focused on your 2023 goals.

  1. Identify Your Goals – Try not to think in terms of what would make you a ‘proper’ writer, but in terms of what would make you happy. If you you are drawn to writing romance novels that have happy endings, don’t let anyone take that away from you. Write the novels! There’s a market for them, and you’ll be a happy writer enjoying your life. Not everything has to be high brow literary, there’s room in the writing world for all sorts of writers and styles. Similarly, if you’re thing IS high brow literary writing, do that, even if your background means you don’t fit the mould for ‘writer’. The big secret is that there isn’t really a mould, there are just people trying to do what makes them happy. There are different types of goals, but the ones that you can see and potentially accomplish in 2023 are probably best. You might well have in your planner or notes ‘write a bestseller’ and that’s all well and good, it’s grand to have ambition, but the book has to begin somewhere, so make a concrete goal to sit next to your big goal – write 80,000 words of a novel by November 2023, submit to 20 agents by New Year’s eve 2023, for example. You could even break that down further – Goal 1 – create a writing space just for me Goal 2 dedicate 1 hour every day with no excuses to sit down and write Goal 3 join a free writing group to get feedback Goal 4 apply for funding/save up for a mentoring session with a writer I respect Goal 5 reach 80,000 words by November 2023 Goal 6 Submit to 20 agents by New Years eve 2023. Break your big goals down and create stepping stones to reach them.

2. Be Realistic With Your Time – Work with the time you have, not the time you’d like to have. This is a biggie. We are all optimistic with our time, but if you are going to get that novel/poetry collection/play written, you need to be realistic, otherwise you will become disheartened and end up not getting it done. If you can, find the extra time. I am a great believer in finding five minutes here, five minutes there to reach a goal, but what has worked for me recently is committing to getting an hour of writing in at 7am on a morning. Coffee on at ten to seven, at my desk for seven. It’s not always easy, but you will come away feeling like you have accomplished something, even if you just manage a couple of lines. I’m running an early morning writing group in January – link to eventbrite details

3. Build A Structure That Will Support You All Year Long – My biggest piece of advice is to put the work in now, at the beginning of the year when you are motivated. Build a structure that will support you when you are not motivated. When you are on the tail end of twenty rejections in a row and feeling like you just want to give up, a decent structure with a plan of what you’re doing next will save you, it will be the life boat in the rough sea of trying to get your foot in the door as a writer. What does it look like? For me, it is a spreadsheet. I am currently compiling a spreadsheet with a page for each month with lists of opportunities – grants, magazine submission windows, competition deadlines, retreats etc, with at least four things on each page. The work is getting done now, the details will be laid out for me, I will have written a biog that I can update, I will have an author photo I can use, I will have a generic cover letter that I can up date and amend when necessary. That’s the tool box, I just need to do the writing.

4. Resources to get you started:

NAWE – NAWE website link – https://www.nawe.co.uk

Cathy’s Comps and Calls – website link – https://compsandcalls.com/wp/

Poetry Kit – website link – https://www.poetrykit.org

ACE job search – website link – https://www.artsjobs.org.uk/search/node

Katie Hale ( five opportunities every Friday, posted on her timeline) link – https://twitter.com/halekatie

5. Follow Writers on Social Media – Lots of writers share the love by posting opportunities on social media, some also now post lists of opportunities directly to your inbox, and this can be a great way of staying on top of, and adding to your opportunities list. Google searches and social media are your friends here. Follow writers on twitter, follow writers on facebook, follow writers on instagram. Find those writers that can give you a lift up, and don’t forget to give back – share opportunities YOU come across too.

6. Keep a Record of Your Work as You Write it – At some point you’ll see a call out for a poem on a theme that you KNOW you have written about, but you’ll not be able to find the poem/short story/essay for love nor money. Keep a record (I keep mine on my spreadsheet) of poems/stories/essays you have written once they are finished so you always know exactly what work you have.

7. Keep Good Submissions Records – It’s not rocket science – you need three columns – title, where submitted, response. You can expand on this, as I have, with dates of expected results, whether you have chased them up, whether they accept sim subs etc , but if you want to keep it simple – title, where, response.

8. Be Your Own Cheerleader – Getting validation in the form of celebration or commiseration from your social media friends is great, it serves a bonding purpose, but it can be addictive. You need to find that validation inside yourself otherwise you’ll be reliant on other people’s validation to keep going as a writer, and that can lead to writing for other people. See point 1. do what makes YOU happy, not what you think other people want to read. And remember that everyone feels kicked in the crotch by a rejection, even if they are well established. Learn to tell yourself that your voice is as important as anyone else’s, that your work is valid, that you don’t need permission to write what you write. Give yourself permission, be your own cheerleader.

9. Keep at it! – You’ll want to give up. Don’t.

10. Remember Why You Started Writing – because it gave you a sense of joy and purpose. Hold that thought in your mind and when you feel like you are not being true to the original impulse to write, check yourself, check what and why you are doing and reassess your goals and priorities.

Last blog of the year next week. Thanks for reading!

Until next time

x

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