Four-Week Check-Up

B94H8808Can you believe that one month has passed since DFW Writers’ Conference 2013? Are you still walking around in a post-conference daze? Well, snap out of it! We’ve got work to do and you need to be focused.

What’s that? The kids are hungry, your day job is demanding and you can’t find your other shoe? Welcome to reality. Shake it off and let’s get this check-up done.

The most important point of your four-week check-up is scheduling. The conference buzz is fading and you are in the “hurry up and wait” part of the submission process. It is easy to let other things take priority over your writing. STOP! Sit down right now with your calendar and set up writing appointments.

How you schedule is up to you– it has to work in your life. Some possibilities:

* a daily appointment for a set amount of time

* a daily word-count or page goal

* writing goals that have to be reached before you can watch television, go for a swim or work in the garden

* a specific day set aside for writing

Choose your schedule, announce it to the world and respect that time.  Make others respect that time. It doesn’t have to be every day. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours. It just has to be consistent. Don’t lose the momentum you have gained.

Review the two-week check-up.  Which of those things didn’t you do? Be honest. Why didn’t they get done? If it is a matter of not having the time, please refer to the first point about scheduling. Make it a priority. If it is a matter of not having the confidence, then get in touch with your writing pals and get some cheerleaders behind you. Ask a friend to be the second set of eyes on your query letter.  Have someone you trust hold you accountable for getting things done.  Use Twitter hashtag #dfwcon to find support from other attendees.

Set some goals. Whether you are working on new material, revisions, queries or research, put a date on it. Deadlines are wonderful. Why is NaNoWriMo so absurdly popular? Because it sets a very concrete goal- a complete story of 50k words in 30 days. Not a good story, not a technically perfect story–just a complete (beginning, middle, end) story of at least 50k words. Arbitrary? Yes. Does it work? Yes.

Work on some new ideas.  What if your dream agent gets back to you and says, “I love your writing, but this story isn’t doing it for me. What else have you got?” You want to have something to offer them– even if it is just one chapter and an outline.

Research submission avenues.  I know, I know…your dream agent is going to call back and sign you, followed by selling your book the next week in an intense 7-figure bidding war.  Use this waiting time to research agents, editors and publishers.  There is absolutely nothing lost by knowing what you want to do in case of rejection.

There is one final action for your four-week check-up: get out your calendar.  Make an appointment for your eight-week check-up on July 1st.

See you then!

Jodi Thompson is a life-long wordsmith who is currently spending her days in the new-to-her fiction arena. You can see more of her disjointed ramblings at http://www.thejodithompson.com/or catch her any Wednesday night at DFW Writers’ Workshop.



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