My success as a writer began with one basic idea: remaining open to various sources of inspiration and capitalizing on opportunities when they arise. With this practice in play, I have sold articles and essays to national, regional, and trade publications (including Writer’s Digest and USAA Financial Magazine), and I am soon to be a two-time author in Chicken Soup for the Soul.
I have learned to lean on my own naivete, realizing that every writer has to have a bit of that to ever succeed. Rather than shrinking away from an idea out of fear or lack of belief in myself, I pursue an idea wholeheartedly (and sometimes spontaneously), knowing that the worst that can happen is I receive a “No” response or no response at all. That’s not to say I am sloppy with my queries; I still do my research and make sure my idea is a good fit for a particular publication. But once I feel I have a good grip on the idea, I don’t dwell on it; I get it out there. Then, I get busy with something else so I’m not mired in that one idea or project. In other words, I diversify my writing projects like I diversify my money: I try to always keep eggs in multiple baskets.
As a writer, I am always thinking about various angles by which I can approach or sell a story. When writer C. Hope Clark sponsored a writing contest with the prompt, “Why do you write?” via her newsletter, Funds for Writers, I responded with an 800-word essay. The essay didn’t win. But I didn’t give up. I polished the piece and sent a query letter to Writer’s Digest.
My piece, “Artmaking,” was published in Writer’s Digest in March 2012.
I also invest in the connections my writing produces. A year after I sold an article to a high paying trade magazine, I queried the editor with a second idea. He assigned the story right away because he was already familiar with me. Likewise, I gain followers to my blog and my Facebook page by genuinely interacting with my readers. I find that my readership grows when I simply do what I love: talk about writing.
Finally, I write regularly. I try not to confine myself too much to what the daily writing entails. The simple fact that I’m practicing at my craft is enough.
It is this spirit of openness that drives my success as a writer. Learning to “think outside the box” reaps tremendous rewards.
Kate Meadows’ writing has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Kansas City Parent and Chicken Soup for the Soul, among other publications. Her book, Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood, was published by Pronghorn Press last fall. She blogs about the writing life and motherhood at http://www.katemeadows.com.