Wednesday, June 29, 2011

10 Reasons to Write Your Project

Yesterday I jumped on a rant about excessive lists online. Making lists for others is one thing, but what about a list for yourself? Not a standard to-do list. We know how to do those. I make one daily. Instead, I'm speaking about a list to justify writing the story or piece before you. The one you think is a good idea but aren't sure.

Often people ask me how to organize their writing. After all, they have so many ideas to write about! Their heads are swimming with topics, but they don't know where to start. I have one solution.

1. Write down the top five projects you wish to write.

2. Write ten reasons you need/want/crave/wish to write each one.

Just like our writing needs exercise to become strong, worthy and presentable, so do our ideas. Just like we publish 10 percent of what we write, if we are lucky, we should likewise only publish 10 percent of our ideas. At least until we become adept at spotting gold in the myriad of notions that cross our minds during dinner, in the shower, along our commutes.

Ten is a big number. Finding ten serious reasons to make a topic worth pursuing is tough. And when you can't find enough reasons, you recognize that the topic might be too weak to carry through.

For instance, I wrote a chapter for Writer's Digest Books' 2011 Guide to Literary Agents entitled "Research Agents: Get Personal Using Resources and the Web." Let me show you my ten reasons to write it, and this is how I analyzed and rationalized following through with the pitch:

1. Editor Chuck Sambuchino's call for submissions was fresh.
2. I'd signed on with my agent in the last year and had first-hand experience.
3. My agent could give me quotes.
4. I still had two spreadsheets of information from my search for an agent, containing my track record and data that would validate my points.
5. I knew a few other experts that could give me quotes.
6. The word count was comfortable and fit in my schedule.
7. The pay was appealing.
8. The market would reach thousands of readers I could attract to FundsforWriters.
9. Writer's Digest knew of FundsforWriters through its 101 Best Websites for Writers list, which might open the door wider for me.
10. I could write it in first person, which is  my strongest voice.

When I reached the end of the list, I still felt strongly about the project. So I pitched it and received the gig.

You want a solid foundation under you when penning an article, short story, nonfiction or fiction book. The topic is exciting, the readership is in your ballbark for your ongoing construction of a platform, and it just makes plain good sense.

Many writers fall through the cracks or bale out of the business because they can't wrap their arms around how to organize and take off. This is one sound method of making your efforts logical, legitimate, and focused.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a GREAT idea! I have some article ideas that have been collecting dust for the past few months, because I struggled to take the first step in really making them unique. I think making this list will revive my passion for them again. :)