Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding the Time: How to Balance Your WIP + Submissions + Life (Part 1)

Song of the Day: Busy by Lyfe Jennings

   Hello all! I've been noticing that a lot of writers seem to be having trouble with finding the time to submit their work to contests and literary magazines. As writers our schedules may be tight, but submitting our work is absolutely essential. Being published in a magazine or even winning a contest or award can not only make us more credible in the eyes of non-writers, but it's also a way to get our names out there. Suppose you finally get that book deal and your novel is published. The more people recognize your name, the more they may be willing to buy your book. Your writing has the potential to make a lasting impression. It can even build your self esteem. After all the beatings we writers take with critiques and rejections, a small victory can give us the boost we need to keep up with our long term writing goals. Today, I'm sharing a few tips that have helped me juggle life, submissions, and my WIP. I've been promising this post for a while now, and here it is, finally.

Plan, plan, plan! Did I mention plan?

You know the saying, "those who fail to plan, plan to fail?" Well, it's true. My first suggestion is to sit down with a calendar. You can use an actual calendar, planner, or your smart phone if you prefer. Set aside time once a month to plan which contests you want to enter or where you want to submit your work. It's up to you to determine how many you can handle applying to or how many you can afford (they're not always cheap or free.)

A calendar will be your best friend.

I'm finding that a lot of bloggers plan their posts and write them ahead of time. This is something I'm going to start doing because I always seem to have trouble keeping up. The same goes for submitting your work. You should use a calendar to remind you of all the deadlines, then plan to follow that schedule. Treat those dates you mark off as actual deadlines.

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

It's a total cliche, but a fact it is indeed. I think part of the reason writers find it hard to submit their work and balance it with working on a WIP, plus daily life is because they think submitting requires so much effort. If you plan, then it's much easier to balance both. Wouldn't it be better to submit one thing a month as opposed to nothing? Why not zero in on one contest or one magazine in which you'd like your work to appear? You can start small. There really are no rules.

Make Time to Work on things to submit.

Here's where it gets hard. You're working on your WIP, you've got the day job, you have to make dinner, clean the house, and your "to be read" pile is out of control. With all that life throws at us, we barely have time to write at all. But you know those moments when you get stuck on your WIP? The moments when you just need a break or need to step away from your manuscript? Why not work on something else, like a piece you can submit. Another good idea might be to pick one day of the week when you work on pieces you can eventually submit. Or, you can dedicate your lunch hour to working on a submission.

Save time by submitting the same story.

One other suggestion is that you write one really good story and submit it multiple places. This will also save a little time. You can try submitting the story until it is accepted. If it's just not accepted then maybe during your monthly planning, you could re-evaluate it, and fix any problems and submit it again. Don't let this particular piece of advice limit you, though. This is just a way for the very busy to focus on one thing at a time. My suggestion is to submit as many stories as you can.

Setting aside a little time each month can go a long way. With just a little planning, you can find the time to work on your WIP, do the laundry, wash the dishes, take care of the kids AND submit your work.

Can you think of any other suggestions for balancing life with your WIP and submissions? Was this post helpful?


  1. I think it's a very good advice, submitting a little at a time rather than all at once.

  2. Awsome advice!
    Lately life has taken me away from writing and blogging. I try hard to stay on top of things, but I have to admit as I get more heavealy into my writing the harder it's gotten to balance it all.


  3. This post was very helpful. I am not so great at planning but I've had to become better. This is a great reminder of that and how to do it.

    I also have to plan small increments of time to work into my schedule. Even 15 minutes makes a huge difference.
    My Blog

  4. Excellent tips! I always seem I have way too much on my plate that when I actually do have free time, I feel guilty and start working on something else! :) I like your idea of planning ahead for submissions, though. If I can do it for blog posts, I can do it to further my writing career.

  5. Great post! If only it was so easy to really do this...I do find that forcing a schedule is helpful, though. Afterall I did complete NaNo!

  6. This post is brilliant, thanks. You've made me feel very optimistic and fired up. I really must get more organised.

  7. Good advice! Scheduling interrupted time sounds so easy, yet I never seem to manage. My goal is to start submitting things this summer and you have inspired me!

  8. Hi Raquel! Such a great blog! I've always enjoyed your tweets but hadn't been on the blog. This post is great for people who struggle with submitting. (That does not happen to be one of my probs . . . I think I submit more than enough and procrastinate on the novel.) Anyway, I was surprised by "submit the same story." Do people NOT do this??? OY!! How does anyone get published otherwise? But imagine you've seen this issue come up for people or you wouldn't have discussed it. Wow!