What It’s Like to Write for One of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers (Not this One)

Did you know I write for another blog?

Yup.  It all started a year or so ago.  I was following a bunch of writing blogs, and one day The Write Practice put out a call for regular contributors. I applied and got it! This week I learned that it was named one of Write to Done’s 2015 top 10 blogs for writers! Woohoo!

I would like to say this accomplishment is because of me (heh, heh), buuut I actually first discovered The Write Practice because it won the same honor in 2012 (or 2013?). Still, it feels pretty good to know that I at the very least have not brought it down.

Anyway, the experience has been cool. It’s made me a part of a solid virtual writing community. Joe Bunting (the founder and manager of the blog and basically my boss) gives me blogging tips, writing encouragement and Starbucks cards! And because each post includes a writing prompt, our readers are actually really involved. They take 15 minutes to write a scene or two and post them right in the comments.  It’s awesome to see!

One of my favorite posts is when I asked readers to write a scene from the point of view of an animal. The attempts were so funny!! I even took a stab at it myself.

Generally, however, I try to write posts that coincide with what I dealing with a writer.  So, for example, if I’m struggling with my POV, I’ll write a post about POVs.

I also try to reference writers of color and female authors as much as possible. It’s like Chris Rock said (more or less)-  sure, minority/female writers aren’t the only ones who need attention, but the chances are much less likely that they are getting it already. It’s just harder out here when you’re not a white dude (just click around my blog to learn why).  To the extent I can help, I’m like—why not?

The post (written by me) that got the most comments was when I asked readers to describe this Italian painting and then compare it to Zadie Smith’s description. Zadie Smith isn’t my favorite author, but my goodness that woman knows how to draw an image with her words. I felt really inspired by her skills, and it was cool to see others were as well. I’ve also written posts inspired by everyone from Walter Mosley to Uzo Iweala to a Washington Post Press Pass mentee.

Anyway, The Write Practice has more than 200,000 subscribers and accepts posts from guest bloggers all the time. If you’re interested, I encourage you to submit one for consideration!!



Pouncing on Opportunities

As I trot along in my legal career, I often receive advice about how to position myself for my long term goals. Network! Gain exposure! Join organizations and associations! Communicate your goals with others! It seems exhausting. But then when I ask people about how they became partner or in-house counsel or [insert important legal position here], inevitably their opportunities emerged from a combination of everything I mentioned above and, of course, “hard work.”

For better or for worse, I have internalized these lessons—with respect to my writing career. Every time I see an opportunity to network or get my name out there, something inside of me tells me to pounce!

First, was this chance to become a regular contributor to The Write Practice—exposure to 40,000 monthly subscribers for doing the same thing I’ve been doing right here for the past year? Pounce! Guess what peeps? I GOT IT. Every other week, they will feature a post from little ole me.

Then, I learned about this new organization called the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. For $50 a year, you gain access to free courses, resources on agents and conferences, and electronic friendships with other writers and potential beta readers. Of course I hesitated about spending more money on this, but–again–I couldn’t help but gear up like my cutie cat Jack (NOT pictured above) when he spots his favorite toy—opportunity? Pounce! I joined. Since the group is so new, everyone is “friends” with everyone else on the site—meaning I’m now connected to dozens of published and aspiring women’s fictions authors. I’ve even found some writers whose blogs I follow on a regular basis on there. Pretty cool!

So I sort of feel like I am on the right track and setting myself up for success, which is great—except 1) these opportunities also mean more responsibility and 2) I still have to deliver a novel. I’m making progress, but as I’ve mentioned, editing is a bi-atch. It always takes longer than I expect, and the more I do, the more I realize I have to change/fix. I feel like I’m doing this crazy balancing act, where my goal is in reach, but if I’m not careful, everything just might fall apart! (Side note: I’ve noticed that when I say stuff like that, it sometimes causes people to worry—don’t worry! Right now, I feel more steady than not, just not completely secure). That’s all for now. Look out for me on The Write Practice!!

Why I Blog About Noveling

My poor blog, oh how I have neglected you so. Some issues prevented me from posting the past couple of weeks. First, I had my busiest week at work this entire year (boring, but true). Second, I had serious difficulty mentally preparing myself for all the editing I have before me and wasn’t feeling inspired. Thankfully,  I was able to regroup and come up with a plan—or more accurately, tweak my original plan, which was to give myself until January 14, 2014 to finish this novel. Initially that’s when I wanted to complete my first draft and I guess after that I was going to edit as quickly as possible? I don’t know. The point is that now I have until that date to make this thing as good as I possibly can!

But anyway, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is to discuss my decision to share the noveling experience with the whole world. It’s been on my mind because The Write Practice competition (to become a regular contributor) has me thinking about this idea of a “platform” or an audience for your writing (check out my guest post here!!). I definitely appreciate the marketing/sales component of it all, but that was not my original motivation for starting this blog.

The 2011 Suntrust National Marathon made me do it.

Let me explain. My third year of law school I decided to train for a marathon. I told a few people so they understood when I said “I went for a two hour run this weekend” or when they saw me scarf down three times as much food as normal. In general, however, I kept quiet because I was scared that I would fail. I figured that if I didn’t post about my training on Facebook or remind my friends of the race date then when I didn’t show up on race day, it would be no big deal.

After FOUR MONTHS of training, it was a week before the race and I knew I would be able to finish. I sent an e-mail to friends and family inviting them to wake up at 7 a.m. and watch! Unfortunately, my Dad and my brother were traveling that weekend and most of my friends couldn’t motiviate the early rise–they had no idea the race was important to me. I had deliberately prevented them from being a part of the journey—both triumphs and struggles—that was culminating that week. Race day, I knew I was about to do this incredible thing I wanted to share with the world, but only two people were able to make it because I had been too scared to talk about it.

I don’t want that ish to happen again.

From day one, I have had a healthy fear that this would all lead to no where. Trust me, once again I was tempted to hide away and not tell anyone I was writing a novel. But the marathon experience stuck with me. If, after all this hard work, somehow this thing gets published, I KNOW I will want to share it with everyone I’ve ever met! And I want them to be excited!!

More importantly, I’ve discovered that informing people about a difficult thing you are trying to do actually makes it easier. Because everyone knows I’m trying to write a novel, I am able to receive encouraging words at unexpected times from unexpected people—making the process feel less solitary and pushing me to keep going. The marathon taught me that my fears are a reason to reach out to people, not to exclude them. What I’m saying is this: including you in my journey has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, so thanks for all the support so far!!