Staying Positive and Focused on the Writing Practice Range
In the possibilities of flogging an allegorical reference, or attempting to capture a metaphorical bridge too far, let’s go to a writing practice range together. Once there, instead of blazing a few random imaginary bullets at all flora and fauna topics in general, let’s align our sights on how to stay focused and positive inside the center mass and heart of our writing careers.
Most authors do battle for focus and positivity from time to time; get discouraged, question their abilities, suffer writer’s block, endure slow sales, experience rejections, and allow distractions to hamper their writing Muse. So let’s load up on some simple writing ammo, and go back to a few writing range basics for inspiration.
Ready? Aim … and … Check Fire! Check Fire! Verify your Targets! Listen up, writing soldier!
1. Target Your Muse – Entertain Yourself FIRST!
Don’t be ashamed to get emotionally involved with your imaginary characters. Aim for the body mass ten ring around their hearts and yours. Let them wake you up at night, talk to you over coffee, and listen when they say they would or wouldn’t be DOING or SAYING this or that. Rewrite with their advice in mind, but don’t be afraid to talk back to them either. Get interactive with your imaginary friends and accept that you have them. Who cares if folks around you think you are going nuts?
You are an AUTHOR! Weep when your characters are heartbroken, rejected, and/or defeated. Get angry and/or impatient with their silly foibles, mistakes, and failures. Laugh at their hijinks and predicaments. Rejoice in their triumphs. Nod at their wisdom and life lessons learned. The more you as an author entertain yourself first, the more you will entertain others that “Get” you later.
Shoot for the heart soldier!
You are an author. Weep when your characters are heartbroken. Get angry with their failures. Laugh at their hijinks. Rejoice in their triumphs.
2. Target Your Genres – Believe YOU have Tales to Tell!
Soldier, steady your pen hand. It doesn’t matter what you write; novels, novellas, poetry, music, plays, and/or movie scripts. YOU are a unique individual. There is no one else quite like YOU in this Universe. You have a unique personality, set of life experiences, challenges faced or facing, tragedies, triumphs, joys, passions, and a mixed bag of life lessons learned, wisdom acquired, and education achieved.
Therefore when your Writing Muse calls, bites, strikes, and demands to be fired off, you must KNOW within yourself that only YOUR pen has the right caliber of unique stuff to be written. Don’t even question it, be encouraged by it, and don’t waste your time trying to write what you are not, or know nothing about. It just won’t fit your pen barrel and blow back hurts.
And especially don’t use your writing ammo for anything you have no passion to read. If you love romance mysteries, write those. Sci-Fi? Thrillers? Self Help? Paranormal? Time Travel? Write them too IF you have the passion for them, AND they squeeze your inspirational triggers. That way you’ll never run out of writing ammo or suffer a blockage.
Nothing bogs down an author and causes a loss of focus and achievement more than uninspired, disengaged, and spiritless writing that will always miss its targeted readers.
Believing in yourself, soldier, and writing your passions will greatly help to keep your pen hand steady as your unique caliber of writing ammo fires.
3. Target Your Time – Segment Hours that MUST be Balanced!
Time on a soldier’s writing range is limited because we live in a time ordered Universe. There are only so many hours in a day
no matter what relativity physics you apply. Everyone has the hassles of everyday life consuming their time too—things like sleeping, preparing food and eating, hygiene, sports, lovemaking, chess, reading, and target practice; you know, the basics. To maximize writing efforts AND enjoyment, a set aside and segmented time and place has to have a balanced stance and positioning on the writing range. Hit-or-miss time tactics in your overall life can really waste a lot of good Muse ammo.
Time on the writing range has to be balanced and segmented too. After all, you not only have to write your main inspirations, you also need time for outlining preparation, upgrading your basic writing skills, and honing (editing) what you’ve written. Then there is time needed for publishing, advertising, and marketing, and in today’s electronically connected world, time to interact socially in the writing marketplace.
It’s tough enough to write and enjoy it with everyday life infringing on the brain and making focus difficult. It’s even more so if all those other writing activities aren’t segmented and kept balanced in their proper perspectives and positions. When they are, it leads to more positive and focused results when you soldiers go to mark your targets.
Don’t waste your writing time and efforts trying to target [readers] that are just simply uninterested in anything you might write. Some readers will love you and your work, and that’s who need to become your writing targets.
4. Target Your Markets – Expect you will HAVE Praise and Rejection!
Not all writing ranges are the same in size, difficulty, nor appeal. Nor are all those soldiers manning adjacent shooting stations for writing all distinguished expert pen wielders. It follows that there comes a time when every author realizes that most of us are an acquired taste by a specific set of readers. That’s right. It’s quite possible we will never be universally loved nor showered with glowing accolades on a worldwide basis. We’ll miss more than we hit.
This should be no surprise because some folks are just inherently better at the writing craft than others. Even God Himself is not universally loved as an author, let alone will any humble human be greatly loved by the reading public, or even by our own families and friends. Expect rejection since there are VERY few distinguished experts out there firing away on the writing range. That doesn’t mean to stop practicing to get better; just always wear realistic eye protection for your mind’s range safety.
Some readers will love you and your work though, and that’s who need to become your writing targets. They share your passions, backgrounds, character identifications, and reading tastes. Therefore, don’t waste your writing ammo’s time, talent, and efforts trying to target market those that are diametrically opposed to your core beliefs and values, or those just simply uninterested in anything you might write.
Also, prejudices and even active opposition against you as an author can happen and folks can start firing back. Incoming fire can come from many angles other than just social, political, and religious differences too. It can come from the writing industry itself because the overall “Traditional” markets are getting watered down and losing their advertising punch and income by good authors publishing outside their folds.
On top of that, you sometimes have to deal with human emotions and failures. There might be pure jealousy in your successes, greed and self aggrandizement in hijacking your work, or simply the unscrupulous using you to further their own careers and pocketbooks. All these can take potshots at your writing.
Duck and cover when they do, soldier, but keep firing your Muse’s ammo and maintain focus on your mission, to wit, entertaining yourself and your targeted readers.
5. Target Your Future – Visualize Short and Long Term GOALS!
As an author, the best way to zero in on the center mass and heart of growing a writing career is to calmly visualize your future results; i.e. your writing shots hitting where you’re aiming.
Look for short term goals for baby step encouragement; small successes such as a first work finished and edited to perfection, first piece published, first ad marketed, or even your first great review. Then encourage yourself when each step is realized. That’s right again! Keep score! Mark them down and check them off! Give each a grade or gold star! It will help keep you focused and give yourself positive vibes about your progress on the writing range.
At the same time make a target list for longer and larger goals; first series finished, a set number of copies sold, first amount of revenue reached, number of fans and social friends engaged, industry recognitions, a family legacy recognized, or just whatever lofty aspirations you want to dream of reaching. Then keep score on them too! More stars and even medals too!
Yet, let’s be realistic here. Maybe your present short and long term goals are suffering from a current bout of depression, self doubting angst, or to date poor sales returns. If that’s the case, then go back to point one and target your inner muse. Put what’s got you blocked aside, and list works you’ve always wanted to read or hear, but never found. Outline the ones that appeal to you most.
Have conversations with other authors; most are darned nice and encouraging folk. Join a support group of them if you haven’t already. Read their books! Then discuss. You’ll be amazed at the amount of fresh and live writing ammo they’ll feed you. Let them share the ways they reached the goals you have not yet obtained. Maybe you have to adjust a few of yours for wind velocity, gravity, temperature, spin drift, and whatnot, but make and set those goals and keep them, short and long term. Get and wear your medals when they are earned too, soldier. It’ll keep you positive and focused on the heart of your writing career.
THERE YOU HAVE IT, my fellow writing soldier, a little symbolic trip to the writing practice range together. Remember what your writing range master advises before firing: Target your Muse, Target your Genres, Target your Time, Target your Markets, and Target your Future. How?
Entertain yourself. Believe in yourself. Segment your time. Expect results, and Visualize your future, but:
FIRST! YOU MUST HAVE GOALS!
Carry On, Writing Soldier! (Notice the range master didn’t call us maggots and stuff?)
READY? AIM! …WRITE!
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
A.J. Hoover is a veteran ex-cop and new author writing police procedural, romance mysteries and Sci-Fi. You can read more of his tips and advice at his blog, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. You can also find A.J.’s recently published book, The Chinese Fire Drill: A Mister Hobo Novel, anywhere ebooks are sold.
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Witty and informative, as I’ve come to expect of you, Mr. Hoover.