Starting a writing career is often a lengthy process. It doesn’t happen overnight; getting your name out there takes plenty of time, effort, and hard work.
But if you’re one of the many people in quarantine mode right now, there seems to be more time on our hands than ever before.
So if you’ve got room in your schedule to focus on your writing career, here are eight ideas for getting started.
(I’ve mentioned several of these strategies on the blog before, so I’ll also link to relevant further reading where applicable.)
1. Update your writer’s CV, LinkedIn profile, and/or Contently portfolio.
A few weeks ago, I covered the importance of keeping an up-to-date writer’s CV. (So check out that full article if you need a step-by-step guide.)
In brief, creating (and updating) your writer’s CV acts as a handy overview of your writing career — including your past publication credits, performances, and awards. It acts as a resume for creative writing work, so treat it as a priority.
It’s also a good idea to keep an active LinkedIn profile. Be sure to include your creative writing career and accomplishments under your work experience. Keep your profile current with all of your most recent publication credits and awards (if applicable).
And if you’ve got a poetry reading or book launch coming up, try posting about it on your feed. Staying active on LinkedIn will help build your professional network and let you present yourself as a qualified writer.
Lastly, if you’re a blogger/freelance writer, Contently is a great site to help with building a professional-looking portfolio.
It’s free to use and gives you a polished home for your writing credits — which is especially useful if you haven’t built a writer website yet. As with your CV and LinkedIn profile, make sure to update your Contently profile regularly so that you can showcase your most recent accomplishments.
2. Edit your past work.
Editing your work is a detailed and often time-consuming process.
Much like spring cleaning, editing involves painstakingly looking at every nook and cranny of your work. It takes a lot of effort and mental energy, but it’s one of the best things you can do as a writer.
So while you’re at home, try taking a red pen to some of your past writing. Using either a digital word processor or a printed copy, give yourself some time to really dig into your own work.
If you’re a poet, check out my past article on how to edit your own chapbook for a full break-down of the process.
3. Try compiling a longer collection/book.
This step goes hand-in-hand with editing: If you’ve got enough drafts of past work, why not try assembling them into a full-fledged book?
For in-depth tips, check out another past article I wrote about assembling a poetry chapbook. In essence, try sorting through some past drafts to see if there are any core themes. If so, play around with grouping certain poems/pieces together into a larger body of work.
If you’re a fiction or non-fiction author, try reading through your past notes to see if there are any interesting topics you could flesh out into longer pieces.
Use this time to sort through your rough work and parse out what’s worth expanding upon.
4. Submit to new publications or publishers.
Again, I’ve covered this on the blog, but now is a great time to send your work out for consideration. Take the time to research calls for submissions in your area and assemble some high-quality samples of your work.
Or, if you’ve got a full-length book, try researching local small presses who are accepting manuscripts. Although tedious, this research could lead you to your first big break!
6. Try journaling.
Another topic I’ve mentioned before is the value of journaling. Whether free-form or structured, journaling is a great way to get your creative juices going.
Try not to put pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece while doing this exercise — instead, treat the process like a warm-up.
Allow yourself to flex your writing muscle and see where it takes you. Even if you don’t end up with high-quality writing, you’ll be better off having practised.
7. Use writing prompts.
As with journaling, using writing prompts can really help you move past writer’s block. And during quarantine, you’ve likely been afforded the chance to play around with your writing practice.
ThinkWritten has a handy list, but you can find other prompts online (or in a book on writing). Try using one prompt per day to get yourself writing, and see where it takes you.
8. Start a blog or website.
Lastly, you could use this time to start an entire blog.
This is an exciting prospect made even easier by the fact that platforms like WordPress make the process quite simple. You can try free versions to start out, and simply use a basic theme to design the site.
Try to pick a subject that you find genuinely interesting — whether that’s sports, makeup, gardening, or video games. Focus on something you’ll be excited to write about on a regular basis.
Alternatively, if you’re a freelance writer, this is an excellent time to start a writer website. As a digital creative, your website acts as a business card. The sleeker your writer website is, the more professional you’ll look to potential clients.
While you could technically use a free website, try shelling out for a custom domain name if at all possible. Even a super-basic WordPress plan will do you well. Be sure to include an ‘about me’ page, a contact form, and even a relevant blog if you have the time.
There you have it: eight tips for kick-starting your writing career while social distancing at home. These are trying times, but keeping busy with a creative practice can serve as a welcome distraction or soothing activity (especially journaling!).
I hope you’re all doing well (or as well as you can right now). Thanks for reading this week’s post, and be sure to follow the blog if you’d like to be notified of future articles.