Recently, I took an online writing class called “30 Queries in 30 Days” by Mridu Khullar Relph. The goal of the class was obvious: to send out 30 query letters in a month. Every day, Mridu would send a lesson via email that taught us how to research magazine markets, generate ideas, write query letters, or some other how-to of marketing our writing.
The lessons were extremely helpful and I learned a lot from taking the class. But, the lessons were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The truly impactful part was the assignment she gave at the end of each lesson. Some days, the assignment was to write one query letter. Some days, we had to write two, and one time, we were expected to write three query letters in one day.
It might seem difficult – and it was – but everything seemed easier because I wasn’t doing it alone. Our class had its own page on Facebook on which to ask questions, share our successes, and mourn those rejection letters. We developed such camaraderie and accountability that I completed far more of the assignments than I would have on my own.
In the end, I didn’t reach the goal of writing 30 queries in those 30 days. But, I did send 24 queries that month – which is about 20 more than I usually send in a month! I broke into three markets that were brand new to me, and gained assignments from two magazines that I hadn’t worked for in nearly a year. My results were well-worth the class fee.
Taking that class was just the kick in the pants I needed to get my writing bootie back in gear. If you are able to take a class, that’s great, but even if you aren’t, you can still give yourself a much-needed boot in the rear.
Give yourself some homework, and find someone to hold you accountable. Write down what you intend to accomplish, and set a deadline. Then, show it to someone who will bug you incessantly until you do the work. A writing friend is ideal for this task but a spouse or other friend works, too.
My teenage son has put his above-average nagging abilities to good use in this area. He used to ask “What’s for dinner?” 17 times a day but now he also asks, “How’s the writing coming, Mom?” It can be annoying, but it works!
I know it’s summertime but giving myself a daily homework assignment has really boosted my writing output – as well as my writing income.
Diane Stark is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Her work has been published in more than 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as dozens of magazines, including Woman’s World, New Parent, and Celebrate Life. Diane can be reached at DianeStark19(at)yahoo(dot)com.