The costumes have been chosen, the Halloween goodie bags and glow sticks are ready, and the witching hour is nearly upon us. But before you set out with your family’s littlest vampires and ghosts to collect their bags of bewitching candies, you might want to consider the many things Halloween trick-or-treaters can teach us writers about publishing, submitting, and being creative!
5 Life Lessons Writers Can Learn From Halloween Revelers
Knock on lots of doors. The kids who are most successful on Halloween are the ones who researched and planned ahead. They talked with their friends about which streets offered the best potential candy haul, then mapped out a route to hit them all. Come Halloween Eve, they’re ready to put their plan into action with focus, energy, and excitement—covering as much territory as possible before the end of the night. You can use this same strategy when approaching literary agents: research, plan, then carry through with verve!
Think twice before wearing the year’s “it” costume. Every year, there’s one costume that’s the definitive Halloween must-have. While it can be fun to go with something trendy for Halloween, the same idea might backfire when it comes to your writing. Read more about whether you should jump on the bandwagon and write for the market, or if it’s better to buck trends.
Be creative (without putting people off). Some Halloween costumes and decorations are clever, surprising, and fun; others are gory, crude, and horribly macabre—you know…the creepy costumes and gruesome lawn scenes that send frightened little kids running back to Mom and Dad. When you’re writing your query or talking with an industry professional, remember there’s a fine line between clever and inappropriate. Be sure you strike the right tone: You can be unique–but not so unique that you come off as someone who doesn’t understand publishing industry etiquette.
Pace yourself. You don’t want to end up like a pint-size trick-or-treater with a sugar high that’s followed by an inevitable crash. When you’re feeling overly eager and excited, moderation is your best friend. You should focus on creating a sustainable submission strategy rather than one that starts with a big flurry of activity, but then quickly fizzles. Instead, you can choose to send two queries a day or even two queries a week. Never bite off more than you can chew—that goes for candy or sending out your work! You’ll save yourself the bellyaches associated with career burnout later on.
There’s safety in numbers, but it’s good to stand out from the pack. Roaming the streets with a group is always the safest policy on Halloween night—and teaming up with others can be smart for writers too. By joining a writers group, you can take advantage of new information, support, and networking opportunities. But remember that traveling en masse doesn’t mean you should blend in: Be the one who stands out with the best ideas, the best query letter, and the best angle (or the best Halloween costume)!
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