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Keep those Plates Spinning!

June 11th, 2010

Sue WilkesIn the days of my youth, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, ‘plate spinning’ was a favourite task on game shows. An expert juggler kept several plates spinning all at once at the end of long, bendy poles. The hapless contestants tried to copy him, and soon found it wasn’t easy! Their plates fell to earth with a crash! There was broken crockery everywhere, but they had lots of fun.

A writing career is rather like spinning those plates merrily along. When you first begin writing stories or articles for magazines, you quickly find it isn’t enough to keep one writing ‘plate’ in motion. If you want regular work, as soon as one piece is accepted, send out more queries, then maintain the momentum while waiting for replies from editors. The same principle is true when (fingers crossed) you’ve had your first book accepted by a publisher.

After my book ‘Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives’ was published by the History Press, I did some more proposals and had another book accepted. After ‘Narrow Windows’ appeared (one plate spinning!) I promoted it by writing articles for magazines while writing ‘Regency Cheshire’ for Robert Hale. And after that book was published (another plate spinning!), I was lucky enough to sign two book contracts: I’m currently writing ‘Stolen Childhoods’ and ‘Tracing Your Canal Ancestors’ while promoting my latest book.

Keeping all your plates spinning means being as organised as possible: use a planner, or large calendar, or set up a spreadsheet on your PC: whatever suits you best. You may have some smashed crockery at first. An idea might not work out as you imagined, but don’t throw away those fragments: you could sell your idea to someone else. You can check out my progress ‘plate-spinning’ on my blog: http://suewilkes.blogspot.com/.

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