Write Now Newsletter – August 2018


“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

My memoir, formerly titled Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two: How a Sedentary, Middle-Aged Manic Depressive Became a Marathoner (with the help of her dog) has a new working title: Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink.

But that’s beside the point.

The real news is that the manuscript (whatever you want to call it) earned a spot as a finalist in the 2018 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in Nonfiction. The winner will be announced in September at the conference in New Orleans.

How in the heck did that happen?

It happened because I followed the instructions of my writing coaches, the award-winning authors Tania Casselle and Sean Murphy. Among other things, they advised me to enter every single contest for which the book was eligible.

Every! Single! One!

Still, how does someone who continues to have depressive episodes so crippling they make it difficult to get out of bed some days achieve such a goal? My secret? Structure.

The following five structures work for me:

1) Classes and Workshops.

The idea of entering every contest (or submitting to every publisher) that fit my book came from two extremely qualified writing instructors. Suggestions might come from other students as well. In either case, these people could help you do what might not occur to you, what might seem to difficult, or what you might think is a waste of time and money.

2) A deadline.

The final days of a contest or publisher’s reading period usually is enough to spark me into action. It’s that pressure cooker effect. There’s no time for perfectionism. I just have to get it done.

3) Tracking Tools.

I love querytracker.net and Submittable. Real numbers don’t lie. I can see my submissions and percentages. The geeky part of me loves this. Plus, Submittable recognizes people who collect the most rejections in a month. Anything like that helps.

4) Accountability Partners.

I tell a friend I’m going to do something. I tell my little writing group. I tell my husband or my neighbor. I tell the regulars at the coffeeshop where I write. Eventually, one of them will ask about my goal. I don’t want to let either of us down.

5) Online Groups.

These are a different breed of accountability partners. But be careful with this. Choose wisely. I’m in a secret Facebook group for artists collecting rejection letters. If I’m not entering, I have no rejections to report. Telling these kind strangers is oddly satisfying.

But here’s the true secret. At some point, these external structures become internal. They light a fire inside me and I’m surprised to find myself motivated to attempt things I would never have done before. Magic? Perhaps. But I’ll take it.

What kind of structure do you need to meet your goal? What will help you not give up? I’d love to hear about it on my blog, BumGlue.

Nita Sweeney

(c)Nita Sweeney, 2018, all rights reserved

Join the conversation on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter at @NitaSweeney

DONATIONS to Write Now Newsletter are gratefully accepted. To Donate, Click Here.