As I peer out my window, I see changes in my environment that indicate a new season is approaching. Frost on my window, barren trees and slippery roads tell me fall will soon be a memory and old man winter will be making his yearly appearance. As much as I shudder at the thought of having to prepare for this next phase, nature has an innate way of preparing itself for what is to come. They come with preparation and expectation of the next phase of its life cycle .
My writing career also has a cycle of life. Here are four seasons in the life cycle of a writer:
1) the idea season- You have an idea for a new project. Now is the time to take out a notebook and flesh out how that idea will take shape. Your ideas may be fragmented or choppy, but try to fill in an outline as fully as you can. Much like the buds on a tree, your idea is a small formation of the beauty which is to come.
2) the composition season- Once that outline is filled in, now is the time to write. It may feel daunting to try to write a lengthy project, but take it in bite- sized chunks. Set aside a specific time each day or make a goal to write a certain number of pages within a week. Also, set a goal of when you want to complete the project. Just as each season has a set amount of months, you should have an end date in mind. This helps you get through the tough, “winter” days of writing and allows you to look forward to the next phase.
3) The editing season- Now is the time to prune that project, tighten up your verbs and give your project a spring cleaning . Just as we clean out our homes, prepare our gardens and cut down the dead branches from winter snow, your writing can use a cleaning as well. Are you using passive voice? Too many “to be” verbs? Awkward phrasing? Enlist help if you need it to make it the best reflection of who you are as a writer.
4) The Releasing Season- As we enjoy the beauty of creation and the fruits of our labor in the summer, now is the time to release your work out into the world. Make a goal to send it to 3 agents and 3 publishing companies that take unsolicited manuscripts. Do your homework and shape your proposal to conform to each of the companies’ standards. They may vary widely, so be professional.
Once you have clicked the “send ” button, celebrate! Take a vacation. Travel. Immerse yourself in a good hobby. Whatever you do, celebrate your many months of hard labor. You earned it! Then prepare yourself for the next season: another new project.