13 February 2011

What Write 1 Sub 1 Is Doing for Me

Yippee! Skippee!
I joined the Write 1, Sub 1 Challenge sometime in mid-January, let's say sometime in the middle of week 3. It's now the end of week 6, and I wanted to share some thoughts about how doing the challenge has helped me.

Goal-setting is relatively ineffective for me. I tend to reach somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of any writing goal I set for myself. But joining a challenge and having some kind of external-to-me group to whom I can report? Much better. For example, this week I had a couple of different short story ideas, but both of them required research and were probably going to be longer pieces. I didn't do any writing on either of them, but I got some novel writing done while I was procrastinating, and I did think about them a whole lot. In an effort to get something submitted this week, I went back and edited a short story that's been sitting on my hard drive since October. And this afternoon, I decided I just couldn't let a week go by without at least making an attempt to produce a new short story. I drafted half of one today.

It was a productive week, in other words. Even if I didn't meet the challenge this week, I'll have a couple of pieces that will probably be ready to go for a first round of submissions by the end of next week.

And this is my main point: Write 1 Sub 1 has gotten my creaky submission process in gear. I will sometimes go through jags of submitting stuff, only to drift away from it later. But the idea of having to get a story in fighting shape, super fast, is helping me to see that doing so doesn't have to be a laborious, painstaking process. It can be a fun, roller coaster, extra super fast laborious and painstaking process.

For the first time in a while, I'm engaging a skill I learned in grad school: researching, composing and editing a piece of writing at high speed and with an eye to high quality. I know I can do this. And hey, there will be time for any further necessary revisions after the rejections roll in, right?

A bit of theory here: in The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron uses the metaphor of "filling the well" to argue that what we really need as artists is a source of images, experiences, or encounters with art in order to stimulate our process. Otherwise, we risk becoming drained or "empty."

Right now, I'm feeling like a different metaphor is appropriate. I'm finding that as I work to "empty the well" by using ideas and engaging in writing, editing, polishing and submitting, I'm giving room for more fresh inspiration to flow in. Instead of stale, stagnant waters, I've got fresh, spring-fed, bubbling coolness. There might even be the odd mysterious sea creature down there.

I'm looking forward to finding out.


Margo Benson said...

Thanks for sharing your journeying through Write 1 Sub 1 - It's good to hear your thoughts as I believe I work in a similar way.

I've also read about emptying the well and trusting that all fresh delights will emerge....scary but enticing!

Arlee Bird said...

The lone journey of self-motivation can be a lonely one where giving up and not being accountable to someone is the easy way out. I think we all need a nudge sometimes. Keep trying--it's better than not doing anything at all and feeling regret later.

Tossing It Out

Cate Gardner said...

Having friends along for the journey always makes things that little easier. Keep enjoying Write 1 Sub 1.

Elizabeth Twist said...

@Margo: I guess a lot of writers view what we do in terms of craft - working away, craftily, and on their own. As an extreme extrovert I've always considered the act of writing to be more akin to performance. Fortunately revision offers a chance to make sure the performance shines before you show it to the world.

@Arlee: thank you, my friend! I shall persevere.

@Cate: I am liking it a lot. Thank you for stopping by!

Deborah Walker said...

I love that metaphor about the well, Elizabeth. Allowing new ideas to bubble up.

I subbed like crazy last year, and I must admit I've been a little slack this year. I had a thing when I made 10 subs a month to the pro press (not so hard when subs can go out to multiple places). That was hard work, but it worked quite well for me. I really ought to do it again -- soon.

Write1 Sub1 is great. I love hearing the good news, meeting people and finding out about markets. I'm so glad it's working for you.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Deborah, you are a machine! I mean that in the best way possible. I aspire to your former heights of submission. (Only in a writerly context does that sentence begin to make any sense at all.)

Deborah Walker said...

I don't want to make anyone feel inadequate, so let me tell you that I quit my day job.

I wish I was the kind of writer who sends off story and it gets accepted from the first publication, but I'm not, so I have to graft a little.

I don't mind, subbing is fun.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Deborah, I think anyone looking at your very fine publication record should be taking notes on how you accomplished so much, not feeling inadequate at all.

I too gave up a career track for this, and have recently slacked on writing-for-hire in order to do more fiction writing.

Just in case you're up for taking requests, I would love to see a blog post from you about how you discovered that you wanted to write, your decision to quit your job, how you developed your work habits, and your experiences with figuring out the writing biz. It seems to me there's a story worth telling there!

Deborah Walker said...

Aww, thanks, Elizabeth. I never thought that my journey could be inspiring to others. Yet, I've learnt so much from other peoples blogs.

Thanks so much for your support, I'll to think about a 'where I am, how I got here post.'