Paring down the insane to do list for aspiring writers

Going to writer's conferences and reading writing blogs can be overwhelming.  Everyone is ready to hand you some new piece of advice and you end up with a list of to dos like so...
  • Write prolifically on your current Work-In-Progress.
  • Cultivate ideas for next projects.
  • Continue to educate yourself on the craft of writing, whether it's through books, blogs, or workshops.
  • Read until your butt cheeks go numb, you grow a fat pack 'round your middle, and the letters wear off on your Kindle.
  • And to be more specific, you must master your chosen literary genre- being capable of referencing both the classics, the authorial giants that dominate, the dazzling newcomers, the upcoming trends and the dying trends that you will get ridiculed for mentioning (vampires, anyone?).
  • And if you haven't chosen a literary genre, you must choose one.
  • Don't forget to document what you read - share it on Good Reads and do book reviews on your web site.
  • Attend social events of the local literati to meet other writers and develop relationships.
  • Find a critique group or partner who understands your genre and doesn't make you feel worthless but is sharp enough to sharpen you.
  • Learn the business of the publishing world.  And learn the etiquette while you're at it too.  The last thing you want to do is look like an amateur, shy little church-mouse or worst of all an egomaniacal creep.
  • Go to conferences. 
  • Enter contests.
  • Research agents.
  • Write query letters and synopses and one sentence summaries and practice your 60 second pitch.
  • Build up your writer's resume. Try to get published - somewhere, anywhere.  Expand your writing to poetry and short stories too.
  • Start a web site and a blog.  But be sure that it supports your brand.
  • Keep an eye on your brand - how you're putting yourself out there in the world.  Make sure it's clear and what you want it to be.
  • Keep up your spirits and don't forget the basics of grooming and hygiene.

This appears to be a daunting task to someone who has a demanding day job and a part time job as the home executive, personal chef, and laundress supreme!

How to tackle such a list?  I believe it's critical to prioritize, and not become distracted by peripherals and problems that are far down the road.

So my pared down list of essentials:
  • Write until you have a darn good novel. 
  • Read as much as you can, broaden your awareness of what's happening out there, but don't try to compete with agents and editors to know every trend and every author.
  • And read for enjoyment - if you stop enjoying reading, you're cutting off the very thing that got this started in the first place.
  • Don't become too distracted by reading writer's blogs full of advice and quickly discard advice that doesn't work for you.
  • Take baby steps towards becoming an educated and social member of the writing and publishing community, but again, don't become distracted.
  • Keep up your spirits and don't forget the basics of grooming and hygiene!
 And with that, I'm off to do my day job.  Then workout.  Then cook dinner.  Then write.  Then read.  And not worry about anything else ;-)


  1. A very fine list indeed. I'm off to do laundry.

  2. I like your list better... I believe it will have desirable results!

    Dawn... The Bohemian