How I View Writing Contests and Magazine Submissions

When I first started submitting my stories to contests and magazines, a question bothered me: would the judges praise me for my goddess-like storytelling skills or want to cleanse their eyes after reading my garbage?

My naive mind couldn’t handle being rejected from my first submission. I felt like giving up on writing and didn’t pen anything for months. I eventually realized that my expectations were unrealistic and developed a new mindset. It goes a little like this…

It’s not impossible to win or get accepted, but it’s also not a guarantee.

Why do some writers feel disappointed when they receive a rejection or lose in a writing competition? I think it’s hubris (What do you think?).

The reality is that it’s unlikely your fiction will come out on top if you consider the slew of other writers who submitted along with you. Think about it: if you submit your fiction into an international contest or magazine, your piece will be competing against BILLIONS of other pieces.

This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to win, but it’s most definitely NOT a guarantee!

Don’t be snooty!

Non-paying avenues can be just as beneficial to your writing career as paying ones.

If a free-to-enter, non-paying magazine with a large audience base features your work, guess what? You’re getting exposure on a well-established platform with readers looking for awesome writers. It’s a chance to grow your platform and advance your writing career.

Rejection means not for them. Not “not for the entire world!”

Whether your piece wins a contest or is accepted at a magazine depends on the judges and editors reading it. They’re humans—like you—with unique tastes and they may not like your work. That’s fair. Get over it. Art is subjective and fiction is art. You can’t please everyone.

Rejection doesn’t devalue your writing. It just means you have to keep submitting until you do find those who will like your work (side note: some contest judges and magazine editors will give you a free critique—use it to improve your writing…or not!). You can even use your stories to build your readership on your blog or sell them as a collection.

 

Ever since I adopted this philosophy, I stress less when I submit my stories. It’s not a full-proof plan, but’s it’s something!

Do you have any submission philosophies? Is submitting to contests and magazines beneficial? Let’s chat in the comments below!

If We Were Having Coffee On July 23, 2016

It’s Saturday?! When the heck did that happen? I thought for sure today was Thursday until Cortana kindly corrected me. Whoops! Anyway, if we were having coffee, I’d tell you that…

 

I’ve spent a good chunk of the week working on Ruin.

Okay, maybe not “a good chunk of the week” since I lost track of time. I probably spent three or four (?) days filling in plot holes.

Ruin and I have an unhealthy love-hate relationship. One moment I’m smitten, thrity minutes later I’m pulling my hair out thinking, “this is the worst thing I’ve EVER written!” That’s why I decided to let it rest for a few days which somehow turned into two weeks.

A family member got wind of this and pointed out that I was slacking (it’s kinda hard to get upset over a piece of criticism that’s true). I went back to work and made a ton of progress because of them.

I guess you can say I needed rest, but I think I needed the encouragement more.

 

As expected, I didn’t win that flash fiction contest.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that I wasn’t a tad bit disappointed. At the same time, I felt an odd sense of triumph.

Writers, like you and I, work in a very subjective field and subjectivity isn’t all that bad. It means that at least one person is going to like what we do! We just have to find them. This is why I wasn’t too disappointed.

I’m thinking of editing (once I get the critique) and submitting my piece somewhere else. OR I’ll turn it into a short story and self publish it on Amazon.

Haven’t decided yet, but I’m gitty over the possibilities!

 

I’ve won two scholarships and the ceremony is in August.

I’m excited(!) and freaked out at the same time.

I mean…do I have to dress up for this? I hate dressing up.

 

I’m looking for guest posters for the fall quarter.

The Fall semester is starting back earlier than I thought (it’s in August). College and writing have always vied for my time and it’s an intense competition. I’ll attempt to blog once a week but don’t expect a stellar track record (especially during midterms and finals).

I don’t want Inky Tavern to be inactive for too long and I want to give back to those who have given to me (thanks for following and commenting 😇). With that said, I’m offering guest posting opportunities. You can talk about anything that enriches someone’s life so long as it follows these guidelines.

You can write your post in a blogging fashion (like you see here) or as a piece of creative non-fiction. Let me know if you’re interested or have questions!

 

That’s my life right now, how’s yours?

Also, if you want to participate in the “If we were having coffee…” community you can do so by simply writing one and tagging it #weekendcoffeeshare on twitter. Go to Part-Time Monster’s blog for more information.

Book Review: “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is and What You Can Do About It” by Steven Pressfield

Advertiser. Scriptwriter. Author.

Do you know what these three careers have in common? According to Steven Pressfield, storytelling.

If you’ve read last week’s post or are following me on Goodreads, you’ll know that I’ve recently picked up Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why that is and What You Can Do About It. I’m a big fan of Pressfield’s no-nonsense writing style and intended to buy his book the moment I heard about it. That was until Marie Forleo gifted a free version to her mailing list subscribers (woot!).

This book didn’t disappoint (not that expected it to). It’s so informative and inspiring that it should be on every writer’s TBR list. Lets talk about why that is.

What was it about?

Similar to On Writing by Stephen King, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t walks us through Pressfield’s career as a creative. Each career has taught him something about storytelling and he’s sharing those techniques/life lessons with us in short, vignette-like, chapters. He also discusses how writers can use these techniques in all forms of writing (novel, script, self-help, non-fiction, etc.).

What are my thoughts?

30556551When I first read the title, I thought “Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Then I read the subheading and thought, “Okay. Now this makes sense.”

I like the title because it’s a sneaky, yet brilliant, way to get your attention😈. Love it. Good job Pressfield!

Anyway, the first three chapters set the stage for the entire book. But, well, as shameful as this was, I…uh…I skipped them.

They weren’t bad! I just really really really wanted to get to the meat of the book. And boy, was it juicy!

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t reads like a narrative with Pressfield being the main character. So you’re getting some sweet advice on writing but you’re also learning about Pressfield’s personal struggles with the craft. In my opinion, this little snippet into his life was uplifting because he never gave up.

Grit and determination can help anyone succeed.

Whenever he introduces a new storytelling technique, the narrative pauses so he can explain it. He explains some techniques/lessons better than others, but I think this is because the “less explained” ones are pretty self-explanatory. He also repeats the complicated techniques throughout the prose so you can’t forget them (at least, I can’t).

Overall, this book is packed with value. The underlining lesson is that us writers must take our readers into account. If we fail to do that, we’ll have one heck of a time trying to get them to read our writing.

What was my favorite part(s)?

After the first eight chapters, the book is broken down into eight parts. The two parts that I like the most are “Book 3: Hollywood” and “Book 4: Fiction: The Second Time.”

“Book 3: Hollywood” is where Pressfield learns about story formula. He delves into my favorite topic, the Hero’s Journey, which is an ancient story structure that (believe or not) every story follows.

(Warning: This book isn’t technically a novel, but it reads like one. So if you don’t want me to spoil the effect for you, skip to the next heading.)

“Book 4: Fiction: The Second Time” is where Pressfield uses the life lessons and writing techniques he learned form his previous careers and applies them to writing his first novel.

This is an intense time in Pressfield’s life because novel writing has impacted his life in a negative way in the past: his manuscripts were never”good enough,” his marriage faltered, and he was jobless.

Despite all this, he still had a burning desire to be a creative and he fought for it even though resistance held him back. This struggle makes his triumph in book “Book 4” especially moving in my opinion.

What are some key take-aways?

Do you want to know what Pressfield means when he says “nobody wants you read your sh*t”? He means:

When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy. You acquire the skill that is indispensable to all artists and entrepreneurs—the ability to switch back and forth in your imagination from your own point of view as writer/painter/seller to the point of view of your reader/gallery-goer/customer. You learn to ask yourself with ev­ery sentence and every phrase: Is this interesting? Is it fun or challenging or inventive? Am I giving the reader enough? Is she bored? Is she following where I want to lead her?

Pressfield on the struggles of writing a novel:

As artists, you and I are struggling each day to dominate our material, to shape it into a cohesive whole with a beginning, middle, and an end. But at the same time, the raw entity defies us. It’s a living thing, with its own power and its own destiny. It ‘wants’ to be something. Our job is to discover what that something is—and to help it become that.

On structuring a story:

The ending dictates the beginning. I’m a huge fan of this back-to-front method. It works for anything—novels, plays, new business pitches, music albums, choreography. First figure out where you want to finish. Then work backward to set up everything you need to get you there.

What are my recommendations?

As I’ve said before, this book should be a must read for every author, writer, and aspiring author out there.

I think it could also be helpful for those who are struggling with their writing careers or are in need of some inspiration.

If you’re someone who just likes to learn new things (like me), then this book might be good for you too.

Lastly, if you’re going to read this book, please do so with pen and paper. Don’t just read it, try to apply the techniques to your W.I.P.

Links

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Website


Image result for goodreads logoWhile we’re talking about books, how about we be reading buddies on Goodreads?! I’m starting to post updates about the books that I’m reading (snippets of the reading material and my reactions to them) because, gosh, books are awesome.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in (or you just need a friend), send me a request and we’ll be book nerds together! 🙂

Stay Motivated to Write with these Four Tips

If you’re one of the many writers competing in Camp NaNo, good luck because NaNo will challenge your commitment. Wait, sorry, that’s not entirely true.

Writing will challenge your commitment — period. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a novel, screenplay, comic script, or term paper you will reach a point where you’re motivation goes POOF! Gone.

It’s totally natural, but here’s four ways you can keep yourself motivated to write:

 

Make yourself accountable by telling others your writing goals

Letting others know about your writing goals is probably the most effective way to stay motivated. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable to tell those same people you gave up.

You can tell a writing buddy, family member, spouse or friend so long as they hold you to your goals and give you moral support.

Some bloggers, myself included, share their goals with their blog subscribers.

 

Diarize your writing journey

Writing down your problems can reduce the control they have on your emotions. 

Journaling brings you into that state of mindfulness; past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment.

Thai Nguyen

If something emotional is keeping you from focusing on your writing, journaling (keeping a diary) can help you evaluate or purge those negative feelings.

Maybe you thought you had writers block but you’re really suffering from impostor syndrome. Maybe you can’t focus on your writing because you had a nasty argument with your spouse. Whatever your problems are, try writing it down so that it doesn’t bother you as much.

You can journal your writing journey on your blog if you’re comfortable with that. Just be mindful about what you put on the Internet, okay?

 

Have a reward system

Pair a goal with a gift and you have a reward system.

During 2015’s NaNoWriMo I had a bunch of left over Halloween candy (no one was trick-or-treating where I lived). I set up a reward system where I got to eat candy only if I wrote 1700 words that day (it totally worked).

I think it’s only fair to warn you that reward systems require a ton of self-control. So, yeah, keep that in mind.

 

Time Travel

You read that right. No, I’m not crazy.

Well…not legally.

You can “time travel” by sending an email to your future self via futureme.org.

Pick a due date, write yourself a congratulatory email, and send it. You’ll feel uber special because you’ve not only completed your goal, but you also received a well deserved pat on the back from your past self. And, lets face it, sometimes all you have is yourself to count on.

Seeking validation from others is a waste of time. All you need is determination and grit.

Tweet This!

What if you don’t meet your goal? Well, then you’ll feel like crap which will turn into determination for next time. No one likes feeling like crap.

 

I’m not saying any of these tips are foolproof, but they can help reduce discouragement. Motivation is a battle we writers face daily so maybe give one or two a try?

If you want more tips about keeping yourself motivated to write, I suggest reading this post I wrote during 2014’s NaNoWriMo.

Good luck out there!

Keep These Things in Mind this NaNoWriMo

It’s only a day away until the start of NaNoWriMo, are you excited? Nervous? NaNoWriMoParticipant-2014-Square-Button can be a fun experience but also a stressful one. Trust me. But don’t fear! Here are eight things to keep in mind during your noveling quest:

 

1. Reading is like Oil

This is a sure fire way to keep your imagination rolling! Read your favorite author’s books and get sucked into their world. Some writers don’t agree with reading and writing at the same time because they feel that the author’s style may seep into their own. However, reading before writing isn’t a matter of imitating the craft of another writer, it’s about keeping your imagination on standby. Read for enjoyment!

2. Keep a Journal Handy

There’s nothing more frustrating than forgetting a perfect scenario, idea, or conflict that would’ve brought your novel to life. Unfortunately, ideas have a way of popping up when you aren’t near a pen or paper. You can eliminate this frustration by keeping an idea journal nearby. It may also be a good idea to keep a second journal around for freewriting in order to shake off the cobwebs before delving into your manuscript.

3. Be Open

It’s a wise idea to be in a receptive mindset in order to cultivate ideas for both current and future manuscripts. Also, try to be open to new ideas that pop up during the drafting phase. Forcing your novel in these new directions could be just the thing your story needs.

4. Be Closed, Too

Negativity can appear from anywhere: from the lips of our loved ones, from our bosses, from our supervisors, from the world, or even from a complete stranger. However, the wellspring of negativity is strongest within us. Heck, writers have even given it a fancy name: the inner critic.

The critic is a major “fun sponge.”  It will find reasons to tell you why every idea you come up with is stupid. Not only that, but it will find ways to make you hesitate or doubt yourself. It’s your job to tell it “no.”

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

-Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

Don’t get me wrong, the critic is a necessary force when it comes to editing but not with creating.

5. Claim Your Kingdom

When you sit down to write, make sure that it’s at a time and place that is comfortable to you. If you’re a morning person and you love to feel the rays of the sun kiss your cheek when you write—write then! If you like the feel of the carpet under your toes and a nice cup of java in your hands—write then. If you like to write in the dark with the sound of your spouse snoring—write then. Claim you spot and write like Kings/Queens.

6. Be a Time Thief!!

Always use any freetime given to you to write your quota of words. Write during your half hour breaks or as you wait for your kid in the school parking lot. If it seems like you don’t have time to write, try making a point of getting something written in the morning before starting your day. There’s always time…you just gotta seize it.

7. Follow the North Star

What got you into writing? Was it because you hoped you could make money? Become rich and famous? Was it for a loved one? Yourself? Maybe you have something to say or prove?

Whatever it is, make sure that it makes you feel like crap when you quit. Keep it in mind as you write your way through November and let it be your determination. Let it force you to the finish line and, when November is over, let it remind you that this is just the beginning.

8. Lastly, Have fun

Write what tickles your fancy and have devilish fun with it! (I don’t think I can explain that any simpler, do you? 🙂 )

 

Good luck out there, WriMos!

Create like a Child and Plot Without Structure

NaNoWriMo forces us to remember what writing is about: having fun, unleashing our creativity, and coloring outside the lines. It’s the perfect opportunity to break away from plot structure and rekindle our passion for pure imaginative storytelling.

How? By keeping it simple.

Centuries ago, Aristotle noted in his book Poetics that while a story does have a beginning, a middle and an ending, the beginning is not simply the first event in a series of three, but rather the emotionally engaging originating event. The middle is the natural and causally related consequence, and the end is the inevitable conclusive event.

In other words, stories have an origination, an escalation of conflict, and a resolution.

Steven James

I’m no genius; however, I think Aristotle may have been referring to this guy:

fiction

Keep it in mind as you sketch your story these next few weeks. Try to loosen up and plot without following rigid structures. Harness the spirit of NaNoWriMo and create like a child.

Besides, you can always edit it later…

One Lovely Blog Award! Yipiee!

It’s a rewarding feeling when I log onto my blog or open up my email to find awesome messages from my buds! It’s a wonder that there are people out there who even read what I write and I’m truly grateful to them. Vik Tory Arch and Kaleiyah-P are two such people. Both nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award and said that they liked what I do here on the Tavern.

Thanks gals! I’ll do my best to keep my posts coming for peeps like you.

lovelyblogaward

Ok so the rules are…

  1. You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog. You must list the rules and display the award.
  2. You must add 7 facts about yourself.
  3. You must nominate 15 (or more) other bloggers and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

7 Random Facts about ME

  1. My favorite color is green
  2. I like stories where the villains are relatable
  3. I’m a clutz so you shouldn’t trust me with anything fragile
  4. I hate the feeling of falling behind!
  5. Butterfingers are my favorite candy
  6. Defiance is my new favorite MMORPG and TV series
  7. The Black List is another favorite show of mine

Tag You’re It!

  1. J.H. Mae
  2. Nirvana
  3. Luther M. Siler
  4. Mishka Jenkins
  5. Taylor Grace
  6. Raevenly Writes
  7. David J Delaney
  8. Arya
  9. Sabrina Wolfheart
  10. Damyanti
  11. D. Emery Bunn
  12. Winter Bayne
  13. Story Medic
  14. Carol J Forrester
  15. Rachel Carrera

Backhanding Procrastination when Camp NaNo isn’t Motivational Enough

1749993358_1381155129
Camp NaNo started today? Swell…

Guess what?! It’s the first day of July’s Camp NaNoWriMo!!

To be honest, I’m not as enthusiastic as I may seem. I sorta feel…well look at the cat!

However, writing is important.

So, regardless of motivation, I’m going to sit and type something for my WIP. I’m not doing this for the sake of Camp NaNo or for the sake of having something to blog about. I’m doing this becausehave to.

If all I do is commit 10 or 100 words to a page–I’ll be happy.

Why?

Because I backhanded procrastination like a boss.

Kapow!

Famous Rejections #2

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick:9780553213119_custom-6967beeca1bb45f778224fd949b93c8b3049f459-s6-c30

“Our united opinion is entirely against the book. It is very long, and rather old-fashioned.”

 

F. Scott Gitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:TGG-orig

“You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

 

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga:twilight_book_cover

“I didn’t plan to start a new career when I did this, and it took a lot of courage to send out those query letters. I sent 15, and I got nine rejection letters, five no responses and one person who wanted to see me. If it’s something you enjoy, put the determination and will behind it and see what happens.”

More to Come!

Click here for my last “Famous Rejection” post