The Writing Life, June 30. Letting some things go

Eight Days Until The Big Announcement!

If you’re a long time reader of Paper Beats World, or if you’ve at least been reading since April, you know that I swear off all contests and anthology submissions while I’m working on a rough draft of a novel.  My theory is that I only ever want one rough draft at at time.  Rough drafts are tiring, creative wise for me.  They’re also time consuming.  When I’m working on a rough draft, I want that to be all that I’m working on, except for my weekly blog posts.

That’s fine and dandy when my rough draft takes six weeks to two months.  When it takes me six damn months to finish a rough draft, like the last one did, that grinds on me.  I find so many cool contests, and come up with so many awesome ideas for the site.  So the whole time I was rough drafting, I kept a list of project ideas.  And I kept my eyes open for contests with long off due dates.

When I finally finished my rough draft, I kind of exploded.  I found so many cool contests that I wanted to enter, and I had three pages in my bullet journal full of ideas for special PBW events.  I always think I’m a machine, so I was sure I could do all of the things that I wanted to do.

Then I got promoted in the day job.  Then reality happened, and I realized that there was no way, no way at all, that I can do all of the things that I want to.

That’s a hard thing to realize.  When I want to do a lot, and I just can’t find the time, I do three things; lie to myself, make up crazy schedules in my planners, and guilt myself when I can’t do it all.

Thankfully, though, I managed to stop this downward spiral before it got really started.  Here’s how.

  • I started by figuring out exactly how long I thought each of my projects would take.  Then, I doubled the time.  I took out my planner, and looked at each and every due date for my contests.  Then I blocked out time to write my stories.  This give me a realistic impression of where I am, and what I can do.  This also means that if I find a new super neat contest, I know if it’s doable or not.  If I want to pick up a new contest. then I might have to drop something else.
  • I dropped two of my contests because I liked others better.  I’d rather write three great short pieces than six decent ones.
  • I looked through short pieces that I’d written but hadn’t managed to place to see of any of them fit the contest qualifications.

Most importantly though, was this.  I’d been working on a short piece for about a week.  The story was solid, and the contest good.  But the draft was snagged.  I realized that it needed a complete overhaul, and I just didn’t have the time.

So I put it aside.  Crossed that contest off my list, and moved on to the next one.  Because there’s always a next one, that’s the beauty of this field.  The internet is full of contests.  I’ve found at least two companies that exist to do nothing more than publish anthologies, and I wasn’t looking that hard.

It is so easy to think that every opportunity could be ‘the one.’  That’s a lie.  There is no ‘the one.’  Once you get a published credit, then you need another, and another.  One sale isn’t an assurance of a second.  So if I’ve got to put one opportunity aside, then that’s okay.  There’s always a next one.

This week, I want to challenge you.  Take a look at your to do list, and cross one thing off of it.  I don’t know all of you as well as I’d like, but I’m willing to bet that if you fine tooth comb your list, you will fine at least one task that doesn’t need done.  At least, not this week.

Always remember, if we try to do too much, you will do nothing well.

What Rocked This Week-

  • I found out that one of my short stories, called Sticky Fingers, is going to be in an anthology called How to Trick The Devil!  I can’t wait to see the anthology put together.  They’re still looking for submissions, if you’re interested.
  • I sent out a piece to the Imaginate contest I told you about a few weeks ago.  It’s always a rush to send something new out.

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Week-

  • First off, fourth of July.  I love that holiday.  Blow things up, eat greasy food, and drink some cold ones.  That’s my kind of holiday.
  • Today is the end of the quarter, and I’m doing my big, ‘what have I done in the last three months,’ review.  Remember, being a freelance writer is being a small business owner.  Got to check in, look into where I’m spending my time well and where I’m wasting it.
  • As you might have guessed, I’ve got a really exciting announcement.  It’s something I’ve been working on for months, and I am jumping out of my skin wanting to tell you all!

Have you signed up for our newsletter yet?  I’m pretty excited about it.  It’s all about walking the path to full time writers together.  Click right here to sign up.

I’m looking forward to a great week.  I hope you are too.


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