There is no doubt about it. I am the type of person who always functions better when my schedule is jam-packed with things to do. When my boys were little, I was teaching full-time, the scout leader for two different "dens" and part of the start-up team for the local Friends of the Library. As they grew older, my responsibilities changed but I liked to stay BUSY! I've always been a task-driving, list-making, calendar-keeping, lesson-plan kind-of person. (It's a shame, really, that I don't like to clean house.)
As a writer, I like to have a focus, such as the current WIP or the "next" big idea, but sometimes that darn writer's block can get in the way...especially when I've been trapped inside during the winter months. That's when I turn to social-media for help!
First, many contest opportunities and open submission windows pop up at the beginning of the year. Some awards are monetary, and many others offer opportunities to query or submit first ten pages, etc. Writers might try Rate Your Story, a website that offers free feedback at various times throughout the year.
It can take DAYS to look into the various options out there, but having resources like WRITER'S DIGEST list of competitions and SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) help to point me in the right direction.
Twitter...that scary universe of tweets and favorites; re-postings and followers. I've decided I can't be afraid of messing up on my tweets anymore. Those 140 characters that I nit-picked over last year are becoming easier. I've also learned how important it is to focus only on the issues, groups and people that I'm really on Twitter for in the first place. For now, I'm following trends in children's book releases, agent/editor wish lists (#MSWL) and authors I admire. I've found that Twitter is now my first place for industry news.
A few suggestions:
@MrSchuReads (A librarian with his finger on the pulse of Children's Literature)
@RosieRevere (Think STEM -- Science; Technology; Engineering; Mathematics!)
@EpicReads (a YA must!)
FACEBOOK GROUPS and BLOG CHALLENGES:
Finally, Facebook's newer group options and various internet blog challenges encourage writers to join in on discussions and debates from formatting and focus to characterization and word choice. I can't say enough about how much these groups motivate me to continue to write and revise on a daily basis.
Currently, I'm in groups with other authors, local critique groups who share up-to-date industry finds and world-wide writers like NaNo-ers. Some of these groups are open for writers of all ages and experience to join. Others are closed and limited by personal connections, recommendations, blog challenges etc.
The blog challenges I have participated in the past two years have both been phenomenal! Not only have the articles and inspiration posted on websites been helpful, but also the element of having groups online are encouraging and supportive. I participated in START THE YEAR OFF RIGHT-Challenge, sponsored by Shannon Abercrombie last January (Shannon took a break this year) and this year, I've joined ReFoReMo (Research for Reading Month) sponsored by Carrie Charley Brown during the month of March. You can still read the posts by the guest bloggers, but signing up for the challenge is now closed--Be sure to check back next year!
In the summer, my work schedule allows me more time to participate in on-site workshops and writing retreats. But during the drab months of winter, social media and having day-to-day goals, along with hundreds of other like-minded-writers, helps keep me focused on my writing.
I hope these ideas give you ways to break those long-days of writer's block that you may have. I'll update my blog as new challenges and contests of interest to author's of children's books come my way. Until then, if I can help in any way, please drop me a message in the comments below.