So you’re done with writing your piece. What next?
The answer may sound easy, but the path that you undertake to get to wherever you want to get definitely isn’t. There are a lot of options that you can choose from after finishing your piece (for the sake of this article, let us assume that it is your first draft). It is important that you should know what your options are, and where these may lead you. There is one very, very important step that you should go through, though, regardless of what you plan to do with your piece:
Leave your work alone for a while.
Well, it is an option, although it doesn’t sound like something any writer would be absolutely willing to do. There is a difference, however, between distancing yourself from your work for a while and completely abandoning it. After working on a particular piece, you can go on with other projects, probably finish whatever you haven’t finished before, or else take a writing break. The thing about leaving your finished first draft is that you will be able to settle your emotions about it better than if you go through it again immediately. Let he material settle, so to speak. You will also be able to breathe from it, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time in the work.
After that, there are a few things that you can do.
Get back to it.
Which might be a pretty logical next step in the writing process. After separating yourself from your work for a significant chunk of time – a few weeks will be helpful – you can get back to it, reread it, and workshop it yourself. You can check for grammatical errors, smooth out certain plot points that may come off as unclear, or else revise, revise, revise. Don’t be afraid to overhaul major parts of the story if you think they’re not working. Likewise, don’t be afraid to keep parts that you think could be improved. In other words, this revision stage is all about adding and discarding, and you have to come to terms with the idea that the hours that you’ve invested in your first draft will be chipped away at and redone – which might sound frustrating, but it’s part of the writing process. Just be aware of the goals that you have in mind when improving your piece. You should know what your goals are, and what you’re trying to shoot for, and this will all fall into place.
Alternatively, you can get someone else to workshop it.
It will definitely be different from if you workshop it yourself. If you work on it personally, you are aware of the detailed, very specific goals that you’re trying to attain with your piece. When someone else does it, they do it in a reader’s perspective, and that will give you valuable insight on how the reader sees your piece in general. Make sure, however, to give it to someone with a critical eye – someone who’s willing to take a detailed look at particular plot points, tell you which parts need expounding, tell you which parts need less expounding, and the like.
After working on it for another time (and if you think you don’t have to work on it anymore), what you can do is search for literary magazines – online or otherwise – where you can submit your work.
A few things about this, though: you have to be able to carefully read and understand the guidelines that each literary magazine poses. The guidelines are there for a reason. Read through them, and keep your piece in mind. There are magazines looking for certain genres of writing, and some may be specific with what they want, some may not be. It’s helpful to know the particular demands of literary magazines, and it’s equally helpful to be actually read their issues, so that you may get a sense of what kind of writing they want. True, it sounds pretty common sense, but it’s also a step that’s easy to skip, because it’s pretty easy to think that maybe you have something in your piece that’s going to hit the right note, anyway. It would be difficult if a polished piece gets rejected because you sent it to the wrong person at the wrong time.
Those are just a few things you can do. Of course, if there is a call for submissions for literary contests, for example, you can join those, as well.
Whatever you plan to do with your writing, though, hopefully you get to places with it.