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Sometimes you fail, but much more often, you simply need to revise… Yes, it can be tedious, but it’s a necessary part of the craft that separates writers from hobbyists and angst-filled teenagers. Take a step back from your work and approach it with a critical eye. Be ready to make substantial (and sometimes painful) revisions in the pursuit of great literature. Your darling could be a line, a scene, a poem or even a whole story. Your efforts are better spent working on something new.
This doesn't; mean, however, that you should just keep dumping words into your computer day in-day out and expect to grow. A number of noteworthy books address the subject of craft, and how you can work to develop yours. Some speak to specific audiences and some to more general audiences. Discuss your projects, their projects, what you’ve been reading, and where you’ve been submitting.
Share your work and your feedback with other writers, and hone your skills in an environment of healthy competition. The more people you know and interact with, the more you will grow, and the more opportunities you will encounter.
Find out what you enjoy and learn what people are writing and publishing right now.
For a few quality online journals, check out: Don’t just read other stories or poems.
Research a variety of media for facts and ideas that can be incorporated into your writing.
Many writers keep a running bibliography of sources and reference texts that they’ve come across in their research. Remember, even if you’re writing make-believe, it still needs to be believable. Don’t get hung up on Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe.
All writing is writing to someone (even if that someone is just you). Really consider the question: who is your audience? If you don’t have a readily defined audience, make one up and work from there. Sure, there are plenty of legendary writers with equally legendary appetites for getting drunk and high, but there are a few realities that are often overlooked.
How can you expect them to handle certain narrative decisions, plot devices, or characters? For one thing, addiction kills, and when it doesn’t kill, it ruins lives and relationships. Moreover, even for legendary writers, periods of greater productivity typically occurred in between (rather than during) the worst bouts of chemical excess.
But if you hope to be published in earnest one day, resist the urge to self-publish, no matter how badly you want to see your writing in print.
Self-publishing leaves a mark that you can’t scrub off.