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How to find your way to writing success? PLAY!

[1]Last weekend, I attended a conference for long-time published writers, where a host of industry insiders offered their insights on the changing face of publishing. Because of the NINC [2] standards (only authors with two books or more published can join) and the desire to keep the discussion vibrant and flowing, I can’t share many details, but I can share the general spirit.

When asked what authors should be doing now, to deal with the wild changes in our business, the insiders said, over and over again, PLAY! Experiment with short forms and long ones.  With writing what you really want to write, with taking the work, the art, to the limit.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? All too often, writers are so anxious to “get it right” that they study and study and study the market, making notes on what’s selling, who’s buying, and where things land on the list,  that they forget why they became writers in the first place.  We worry and worry and worry.  What should I write? What will give me a bigger audience?

Instead of that, let’s step outside the box for a minute. What would play look like for you? Do you ordinarily write long? Try writing short.  Try playing with poetry.   Are you a genre writer? Try writing something outside your usual sandbox.  If you’re a literary fellow, try your hand at the genre you cut your teeth on—maybe a mystery story or a fantasy epic.   Maybe you’ve always wanted to see if you had it in you to do Y or Z.  Give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

I have had what I call a Sunday book in the back of my mind for quite awhile. It tickles me awake, kicks me sometimes while I’m walking, and once I finish the material due at my publisher this week, I’m going to take a month and just see what happens with it.  (Come by my blog, A Writer Afoot [3], for more information…in three days.)  You can read along.

I urge you to play, too. Especially with NaNoWriMo coming up next week, give yourself permission to write the story YOU would most like to hear.  Do it with joy. With exuberance, with a sense of possibility.  And maybe that’s going to be the story that we ALL want to hear.

Do you remember what your first stories were about?  Can you see that influence in the work now? If you could write anything, what would it be?  

About Barbara O'Neal [4]

Barbara O'Neal [5] has written a number of highly acclaimed novels, including 2012 RITA winner, How To Bake A Perfect Life [6], which landed her in the RWA Hall of Fame and was a Target Club Pick. She is a highly respected teacher who also publishes material for writers at Patreon.com/barbaraoneal. She is at work on her next novel to be published by Lake Union in July. A complete backlist is available here [7].