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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

Publish Your Post-its
by Tama Westman

Ok, admit it. There's not always a handy computer or leather-bound journal nearby when a great idea strikes. If you're like me, some of your best story ideas and inspired thoughts are often quickly jotted on the back of bills, envelopes or placed on Post-its that get stuck to lampshades, walls, books and coffee cups all over the house. While you vacuum, chase kids and find missing shoes, you see the notes, day in and day out, but fail to follow through with what Tom Harvey would call "...the rest of the story."

This next month, I challenge you to take down the Post-its, gather up your scattered scribbling, and get those stories written, submitted, and eventually, published. They could be your best work yet. You know it is true, your next short story, nonfiction article or novel likely surrounds you on bits and pieces of paper stuffed and tucked all around the house.

Success myth #1: You have to be perfect
Lose yourself of fear, a major stumbling block with many writers. One of the myths in the writing world is that you have to be a "great writer" to be a published writer. Some never share their talent, for fear their work has to be perfect
—perfect to the point that it's never submitted, never published.

Published writers are disciplined. They follow through amidst the chaos of family life, the blaring television and their own self-crippling fears. It is difficult, mind you, but you can overcome the obstacles in your writing life through self-coaching, making your desires known to your family, and, if necessary, locking yourself in the bathroom with your laptop and a set of headphones.

Success myth #2: No one will publish this
Every time I teach a writing seminar, I have writers approach me with great articles, stories and manuscripts that are worthy of publishing. But their main question is, "Do you think anyone would want to read this?"

Yes! If it's interesting to you, then you can bet there are at least 10,000 others who will find it interesting, too. All you need is a viable market. Granted, an article on overcoming fear through rock climbing may not be the best piece to submit to Woman's Day, but a market guide will help you determine what publisher would want to see it, and how much you can expect to get paid.

Success myth #3: Only established writers get published
If newbies didn't stand a chance, no one would ever pick up a pen. Work the system to find work. Get a Writer's Market Guide. This is where you are going to find publishers, editors, agents, advice, even hot markets that are desperately searching for new submissions.

After you research publications, read the writers' guidelines, write your piece, and send it in. You can do this. I recently gathered all my bits and bobs and found out I had a booklet just waiting to be published. Moreover, I learned from an interested editor, that if I added here, lengthened there, I had a book he would publish. Not bad for notes scratched on the backs of paper plates and gas bill envelopes.

Let's do it together. A little organization, a good dose of discipline and a lot less fear, and we'll be on our way!

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary magazine, Haute Dish. Her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.

She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students, and teaches beginning and intermediate writers at conferences throughout the country. Married with two grown children, she keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Further samples of her writing can be viewed on her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com feel free to e-mail comments to tama@tamawestman.com









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