Tuesday, March 23, 2021

6 Ways to Hone Your Writing, Develop Resilience, and Build Your Platform at the Same Time

by Sue Schlesman @SueSchlesman

As writers, we’re multi-taskers.


I’m not talking about our ability to make dinner, proof kids’ homework, and write a new chapter simultaneously, although we’ve probably all done that. I’m referring to the honed ability to persevere, get feedback, and recover from that feedback without hiding for a year while I half-heartedly tweak a manuscript I no longer believe I can finish.


Every writer should be engaged in regular mini-deadlines, mini-critiques, and mini-rejections because they make you a stronger, more resilient writer. It’s an awful process, but it’s important.


Here are six ways to hone your craft, develop resilience, and build your platform at the same time:

  1. Enter writing contests. Winning is the obvious benefit: award stickers for promotion, titles for your bio, bragging rights. But not winning also benefits you because the entering process grows you as a writer. Whenever you enter a contest—whether for a writer’s conference, website, or periodical, you force yourself to study the genre, the site’s previously-published works, and the entry qualifications. Contests compel you to comply with regulations, just like agents and editors do. It’s good practice to enter contests, whether you win or not. 
  2. Join a writer’s critique group. Critiques help everyone in a critique group, regardless of past writing experience. In just a short time, every participant can grow as a writer if he/she learns to accept and incorporate feedback. Healthy critiques build resilience, confidence, and know-how.
  3. Ask to guest-blog on someone else’s blog who has a similar style or focus as you. Bloggers love good guest bloggers because publishing a guest-blog means one less blog they have to write. Just study the blog’s content, length, and mission and write an article that adds value to the website. Then email your blog as an attachment to a kind email proposal. If accepted, you’ll broaden your audience by accessing theirs, and you’ll increase your presence on the worldwide web. Of course, include a short bio at the end of your article. This isn’t shameful self-promotion—it’s the win/win of guest-blogging. 
  4. Participate in genre-specific submissions. Entering a flash-fiction, micro-fiction, poetry, or travel-writing contest or periodical submission deadline might be just what you need to hone your craft or attempt new writing genres. Putting yourself in situations where you have to write a complete story in 250 words or three poems that tackle a particular theme make you produce something under a pressurized situation. You’ll learn how to write within the confines of deadlines, word count, and other specifications that will eliminate lazy writing habits and fears of branching into other genres.
  5. Write for non-paying publications. You can find non-paying markets for poetry, devotions, fiction, travel, and other genres. Use Google or your Writer’s Guide and find markets that cater to new writers. The more you write and publish (even without pay), the more experience, exposure, and resilience you will develop.
  6. Find speaking venues. Regardless of your preferred writing genre, you can learn to speak and articulate your craft to an audience for a few important reasons: 
    • The style and skill of your writing is exposed when it’s read out loud. Reading aloud shows you where to edit. 
    • Speaking your writing gives you direct audience feedback, which is critical. None of us just write into the abyss. We either have a target audience that we hit, or we have an unknown audience that we don’t hit. You can teach a Bible study, read children’s literature to a classroom full of kids, submit editorials to the newspaper, lead a book study, conduct a Facebook live discussion, record a podcast, conduct a survey or interviews, or film a short video of yourself reading or teaching. 
    • Asking to speak takes guts—it’s a lot like pitching to agents and editors. Learn to pitch yourself to organizations and groups. People who buy books also buy the author; finding your speaking and interaction voice makes your writing ring true. Whatever genre you write, you must find a way to speak out your themes to an audience. 

Writing requires tenacity, grit, and determination. It also demands grace toward yourself and commitment to your calling. Even while you write your magnum opus, make time to develop the skill and resilience you’ll need to persevere through the next big writing challenge.


Hone Your Writing, Develop Resilience, and Build Your Platform at the Same Time - @SueSchlesman on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


Sue Schlesman is an award-winning author, speaker, blogger, English teacher, and president of Word Weavers Richmond. Her second book, Soulspeak: Praying Change into Unexpected Places, won a Selah Award in 2020. Sue was also a top-15 contributor at Crosswalk.com in 2020. Sue has a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Theology & Culture. You can find her writing about life, education, and Jesus at sueschlesman.com.