Monday, May 07, 2007

Keep the irons hot

Did you ever look through market listings and get an idea but thought you could hold onto it until you finished looking through the listings? You finished and got out your writing tools and . . . nothing.

It's happened to me a lot. I've missed deadlines that way by being unable to think what it was I had planned to write. The clock ticks on relentlessly and the deadline passes. No one noticed because no one was expecting my submission. There are always other books and contests down the road; so what if I missed one or two or an uncountable number of opportunities to be published?

I've found a solution.

When I go through the marketing listings I have pen and paper or my laptop close by. That way when I get an idea or something sparks (hopefully, without actually catching fire to the books on the bed or sofa or table) I make some notes or just write the piece. I can always edit it later, but I might not get the spark again. It also helps with getting ahead of deadlines. Nothing like being weeks or even months ahead of deadline so you can move on to the next deadline and the next market listing that strikes a spark.

The same thing works for reading the newspaper, magazines, hear a snatch of conversation, or see something that simply must be recorded (you can keep a camera handy for this--make sure you have batteries just in case). Keep a little notebook you can stick in a pocket or purse and a pencil and a pen (never know when the ink will cut out on you). Stop whatever you're doing and jot it down. It won't take long and the results are definitely worth it. Making a note or taking pictures helps capture the moment, but they also help set the information in your memory so it's less likely you'll forget. The boy and girl scouts had it right: always be prepared.

I also write stories and articles and then look for markets, but when I have nothing pending and I'm cruising the listings and contests, this method works really well. I have chalked up ten stories/articles/essays in the past two weeks. Being productive helps keep you productive and the ideas flowing. I've also landed four assignments, which means there will be checks in the mail upon publication or receipt. And none of this gets in the way of my regular work or reviews I already have slated.

In a way, it's like exercise, keeping the writing muscles and energies high and very flexible. Nothing wrong with filling the pipeline and keeping it filled. The end result is good for you and for your bank account.

What is your method for being creative and keeping creative?

That is all. Disperse.

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