Sit Down and Write

Sit Down and Write, guest post by G. Lloyd Helm

Dorothy Parker was once asked, what do you say someone who wants to write. She said "Oh I discourage them and I urge you to do the same," so I feel obliged to do just that. If you feel that you want to write, run away quickly because if you catch the sickness you will never be free again. On the other hand if you already have said sickness which I assume you have since you are reading a blog about writing, there is nothing in the world that can discourage you. That being the case sit down at your desk, writing table, computer, or whatever your chosen literary weapon and get at it. Don't talk about it just sit down and write.

Above all, if you are going to write for publication don't be discouraged. You will get rejects by the ream. I personally kept my first thousand rejects, then I have decorated a thousand more trash piles around the world with thousands more. You must toughen up and remember that that reject is of the work not of you personally. That is hard to remember when someone tells you your baby isn't pretty enough to get published in their anthology, magazine or as a novel. Writers succeed by being too damn dumb to quit. And who knows, you might get lucky. Submit everywhere, even to places that seem dumb. Some small publication from Toolieville Montana might just have more power than you know. You are after publication. Money would be nice, but publication is the most important. You gotta get your name out there, but don't be afraid to aim high too. Again what have you got to lose? What are they gonna do reject you? Then you can say "I was rejected by_______" fill in the blank.

There are resources out there to help you too. A major one for me has been They send out a news letter once a week with a list of open paying markets of Anthologies and book publishers. I have had a good deal of success submitting to the publishers Duotrope has listed. There are other resources as well. Writer's Digest is still a good mag with good articles and markets. I find their markets a little stale compared with Duotrope and a couple of others but they always have interesting and useful articles.

I hesitate to add this one but I feel I must. Find yourself a critique group and join it. A good critique group can help you take a mutt of a manuscript and curry it into a show dog. But this also requires your having to refer back to the reject advice. The critiques aren't about you. They are about your work, and if they are about you, leave that group immediately. No need to have your heart cut out once a week or once a month if you aren't making any strides in the writing department. But being a part of a critique group will certainly bring you closer to other writers, which is a good thing though writers are a pretty strange bunch. The old saw about writing being a lonely profession isn't wrong, but it helps to have friends who know what you are talking about when you say, "That transition is kicking my____."

I'll end by repeating Dorothy Parker's advice. Run away, but if you can't sit down and go to work.



  1. What’s more important: characters or plot?

    1. Depends on the book. Mysteries, Science Fiction, Romances, usually the plot is more important, Literary--called character driven--usually the story grows out of the characters. That being said--all this is nonsense. Sit down and begin. The book will usually tell you whether to emphasize the plot or the characters.


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