Is it possible? You’ve submitted to everyplace everywhere. Is there a missing page in those writing books? Did that writing seminar leave something out? Seminars, reading, submitting and even self-publishing are ways to success, and partial definitions of it. But, they’re not the only ones.
Why not give yourself a writing assignment? But that’s not how it works, right? It might surprise you; this is the path some renowned writers have taken.
James Watkins, a fruitful writer and speaker, points out that many “writers” of the past did not write for the masses. Their letters, poems, and other personal writings were later published as they lived their lives and became recognized. I’ve heard his talk on 25 rejection-proof markets which is also now published on his website; definitely worth the read.
I don’t want to copy his ideas. I do want to share how his thoughts have inspired me to rethink my writing efforts. This is something I have been doing, once again, for the past few months. Here’s how applying just a few of those ideas past and present has influenced my direction.
As mentioned, many writings we have today of Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain were letters, poems or speeches written for only one person or a small group. I have saved many greeting cards, letters and postcards over the years.
Don’t discount how much a card may mean to someone having a tough week. I know texting, emailing, Face-booking and other electronic nonsense exist, and I sometimes do use and appreciate them. This blog is a form of it. And yet, receiving something hand-written today can mean so much. If you’re having trouble filling a page, try filling a postcard (I’ll be sending some out shortly).
This will help the post office see something more than junk mail and bills. Hey, maybe someone at the post office needs a note of encouragement too. You might also consider firemen, police officers, and others who make your life easier. How about the bus driver or the crossing guard who gets your kids safely to school?
Much of my family knows that I write and have had some successes. What you might not know is that three members of my family passed away between 2012-2014. I wish I’d written some thoughts to each of them on how they influenced my life path. Don’t miss those opportunities.
Charles Dickens wrote The Life of Our Lord between 1846 and 1849, around the time he was thinking about the novel David Copperfield. He adapted his simple retelling of the life of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Luke. He wanted to tell his young children about his religion and faith. Since he wrote it only for his children, he didn’t allow its publication.
For eighty-five years the manuscript was a treasured family heirloom, handed down from relative to relative. When Dickens died in 1870, he left the manuscript to his sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth. From there it fell to Dickens’s son, Sir Henry Fielding Dickens, with the understanding that it should not be published while any child of Dickens lived. Just before the 1933 holidays, Sir Henry died, leaving the manuscript to his wife and children. He granted them the right to choose to publish it. By majority vote, Sir Henry’s widow and children decided in favor of publication. In 1934 Simon & Schuster published the first American edition. It was one of that year’s bestsellers.
I don’t have kids. If you do, write your thoughts down toward them, even if you don’t think they’d appreciate it right now. I believe the opportunity to share them will arise. Let them hear their writer Mom or Dad’s heart in something that wasn’t written for the multitudes, but specifically for them.
Writing to your Spouse
Think about it. Your spouse also knows you’re a writer. If they support you, they know you’ve been at it for some time and you work hard at it. Even so, all of your writing gets sent to editors’ offices in hopes of finding homes. Step back. Realize that your words have a home in the one who married you. They may want to get a “submission” on occasion. I can almost guarantee acceptance!
I write poems: occasionally, sporadically. Before getting married, I wrote a poem for my wife. This poem and one she wrote for me were on display at our wedding. I’m still earning royalties on this one!
God Did It
When I woke up this morning; the sky pale blue
I prayed the sun would shine brighter for you.
And that the birds would sing louder, more true
I wanted God to reveal His amazing ways
And you to be filled with abundant praise
I asked that you’d feel the day’s embrace
In God’s mercy, His caring, and His grace.
I imagined all nature would cry out as one
And then I would join in to tell all He had done.
Then I stopped.
I fell silent.
As God’s heart burst through:
He’d already done it
For me and for you!
He has already filled our glass
And so much more that we could ask.
In everything that we discuss
God has provided aptly for us.
He has carried us on Eagle’s wings
Why request such little things?
I thanked God, and praised Him
And renewed my trust.
God will always have in mind
The best for us.
© Peter D. Mallett Oct. 2009 For Michele
In my home, I know the words we write on special occasions can express words we can sometimes forget to say every day. Take time to write more than Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary. Maybe you don’t write poems. You write letters stories, or articles – whatever it is – you might consider adapting it and making a special gift of your words to your spouse. It may be your greatest writing challenge. Accept it!
Writing for Someone You May Never Meet
Another type of writing I do is precious to me, though it doesn’t earn me a penny. In fact I donate a small amount of money each month for the privilege. I mentioned that I don’t have kids, but I do write to one overseas. I sponsor a child and her family in Peru.
The cards, notes and letters they write are translated for us since they speak Spanish. The wonderful colored pencil drawings need no translation. The words my wife and I send are also translated by workers where she lives. Excitement overflows when I see one of those red-striped airmail letters in my mailbox. We also receive photos and yearly reports. We see how our small gifts and encouragement multiply to help them and their community.
There are many organizations that provide for the needs of families in underdeveloped countries. I sponsor through World Vision. They have been in operation for many years and have excellent financial accountability. Perhaps this is another way you’d want to use your writing. Even though the writing itself is simple, its impact is profound.
Write for Yourself
It is lonely for a writer with no inspiration to write. Do it anyway. I have sold about a dozen devotions over the last few years. As I mentioned in another article on the statistics of writing, I have written and submitted about 60 devotions to sell that dozen. Sometimes they start as thoughts I just want to get out. Sometimes I develop them right away. Other times I come back much later to develop them. They help me wrangle my thoughts and stay organized. Keep your writing muscles in shape.
I also wrote an article about how working consistently helps to build up steam for your inevitable down times.
During this recent period when I thought I had not been writing as much, I led four bible studies which I prepared for; I wrote a poem which appears in my online GetUpLifted shop I started on Etsy. The shop has quotes, sayings and encouraging words in eye-catching designs. This has been a wonderful creative outlet for me. In addition, I started an account on Instagram. If you want to see some of my local area as well as my newest designs, feel free to join me there (Note: most of Instagram’s features are designed to use with a smart phone. Oh yeah, that was another learning curve, I finally got a semi-smart phone). During the last few months, I also received two checks for devotions I’d sent out many months before. I’ve also started a short story.
Your main writing projects won’t suffer. In fact, you might find much more profitable subjects to write about in between if you give yourself a writing assignment. It’s possible some may prove more valuable in the long-term than the writing tasks you’re currently wrestling with.
I’d love to hear how some of these or other ideas have influenced your writing journey. Leave a comment below.