Take advantage!

Got your attention, didn’t I? Yes, take advantage. Not of people or contacts—of opportunities!!

So many times I find writers aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities that present in their stories (and/or in their writing lives). Here’s a list of opportunities you don’t want to miss:

Opportunities to stretch out the tension. Don’t wind things down or deflate the tension before it’s time. Definitely have an ebb and flow, but don’t pull back so much that readers lose interest. Don’t let every character be nice to your protagonist. And remember tension and conflict can come from within.

Opportunities to dig into POV and help readers really connect with your POV character in a given scene. Help us feel what they’re feeling. How? Show. How? Pull from your own heart and experience, and then display those actions/emotions in the situation you’re depicting. But draw on your own similar experience to make it “real.”

Opportunities to brainstorm. Don’t hesitate to take time off to “just” think. Take a walk and brainstorm plot troubles. Have a cup of some delicious warm beverage and chat your story snags through with writerly buds.

Opportunities to refresh your creativity. Take breaks. Take vacations. Get away from the norm. Read during your downtime. What inspires you? Walks on the beach? Strolls through the forest? Time with friends? Find a way to indulge.

Opportunities to study writing craft. Always be a student of the craft. As you read, study what you’re reading. How did this author accomplish the scene that just made you cry? The prose that just made you stop and savor the words? The twist you didn’t see coming? Study articles. Find websites and/or craft books that help you grow as a writer. Don’t miss opportunities to join writing communities or go to workshops. If you can afford to go, attend conferences. Be teachable where editors, critique partners, and contest judges are concerned.

Opportunities to write. What season are you in? In my own life, I’ve had seasons where I had more time to write than other seasons. The trick is to write whenever you can. Even if it’s only a few hours at the end of your busy day. Write every day. You can grow a manuscript this way. Set a goal of 500 words a day and meet it consistently. Take advantage of writing challenges. Join groups and hold each other accountable. My involvement in a critique group has helped me work on my manuscript, making time to write/rewrite a chapter for the next meeting, even during busy weeks. You’re a writer. Make time to write. Take a laptop to doctor’s appointments or kids’ soccer games.

In short, take advantage of the opportunities before you. The investment will pay off.

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