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Many of us spent last Thursday creating a masterpiece. It may have taken hours and hours to prepare and get "just right"-- and when it came down to sharing, it seemed to be gone in a snap! The hope we have for the perfect Thanksgiving feast is the same as writers have for their work: all of the attention, thought and care that went into its creation will be met with enjoyment, satisfied smiles, expressions of praise and maybe even the illusion that its creation was effortless.
Create work you are thankful for:
- Add your Secret Recipe-- Your writing style is your own. There will always be rules and debates over the stuffing/dressing elements of writing, but remember that, after the basics, you will be proud that you made it unique by adding a bit of your own special spices.
- Blend, Boil, and Beat those words--You may get burned along the way, but it will be worth it in the end. Some of the best tasting food takes multiple steps and goes through many changes until it is complete. Your writing is the same way. No one knows, or cares, that the delicious dessert once looked like a Swamp Blob or that your first draft dropped three plot lines making it as comprehensible as a monkey teaching quantum physics. All that matters is the final product. It's good, and it makes your readers (and you) smile.
The days after Thanksgiving are typically filled with family, shopping, and leftovers. The time after releasing your recent masterpiece is similar. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed! Take a few breaths and these tips to make it through:
- Your Writing Family--Share the word with those already close to you. Post links (not just mentions, make it easy! You don't make Aunt Ida take the city bus after she's just made two flight layovers to get to you, right?) to where your work is available on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Stay in touch in other ways as well. Letters are always nice. Of course you mention your new work in your e-mail newsletter. If you haven't started an e-mail newsletter, this may be a good time to begin. You don't need to be limited to the family you have now; in the writing world, it's best to grow your family as big as possible.
- Shop, but don't drop!-- After Thanksgiving shopping is about the bargains, but too much of a good deal can get out of hand. I realized this the first time I visited a Dollar Store. I was so excited that THIS is just $1, and THAT was just $1, that I ended up spending about 100 bucks. Months later, I realized that much of the stuff purchased on that trip was still sitting in a junk drawer, unused. Don't let this happen to the bargains you find to market your writing. Most e-mail newsletter providers let you try their service free for 30 days. Use those 30 days to your advantage. You are not going to know whether to keep the service if you don't spend the time figuring out how to use it and testing it a bit. Did you get a great rate on some business cards or bookmarks to promote your book? They are doing no good sitting at your desk! Hand them out-- networking meetings, book groups, writing groups and at your book signings (they may not get your book that day, but they may later, or will be able to pass it on).
- Turn your leftovers into something special-- My inbox is filled with new and exciting ways to prepare the turkey now living in Tupperware in my fridge. One of the pics showed some shredded turkey in a tortilla of sort, reminding me of a great green chile salsa I bought this year. Hmmm. I may be able to throw something together. When you are writing, you may have set aside a storyline, a character, or an essay idea because it wasn't the right time. Now may be time to retrieve it from the back corner of the fridge in your mind-- it could work perfectly with something now, making it seem fresh all over again. Always keep a file of ideas or phrases/paragraphs/chapters that you've set aside. They may work for something in the future. But remember, some of your ideas may have a short shelf life. If your idea is particularly timely, write it when you think of it, otherwise it may not be so good the next time you open it up!
Just because Thanksgiving has passed, don't forget to count your "writing" blessings. Every moment you give yourself time to be creative is a gift; first to yourself, and later, to others, if you so choose. Here's to collecting many gifts in the coming month, and beyond!