This is the month when seasons change. Fall officially begins with the equinox on Saturday, September 23, when daytime and nighttime are of equal length. The Farmer’s Almanac says our first frost in central Indiana will occur soon afterward, on or about October 11. If you grow flowers or vegetables outdoors, it's time to trim your hibiscus and other perennials, then cover the stems with straw or mulch to keep the plant from freezing. Time to dig up marigolds and other annuals so your flowerbed will be ready for a fresh planting. If you have root crops that over-winter, such as turnips, make sure they are well covered with mulch so they don’t freeze. You can harvest and cook them all winter.
Writing projects are like those plants. They require different kinds of care as the seasons change. If we keep them well-nourished and protected from harsh weather, they can provide beauty and food, even when the weather is harsh. Think with me about the various seasons of writing:
Winter. From time to time, your best markets will be glutted with manuscripts and editors will ask you to stop submitting new material. What better time to pull out some manuscripts that didn’t hit the target when you first submitted them? Spend some time polishing and correcting them to submit when editors are soliciting new material again.
Spring. This is a good season to submit manuscripts that you reworked when markets were inactive. Scan the Internet to see if any recent events may draw new attention to these pieces. The Christian Writers’ Market and other sources can alert you to new markets that are eager to launch with fresh, imaginative material like yours.
Summer. You’ve been waiting for this season. There’s strong demand for new manuscripts, competitive pay for books and articles accepted for publication, and agents visiting writers’ conferences to scout out writers with promise. This isn’t the time to find your cupboard is bare. Be ready to query agents and editors with proposals that you’ve prepared to pique their interest. They are aggressively looking for material to publish in the next active season, so make it yours!
Autumn. Here we are again, ready to turn the corner from the most active season to the most dormant. What you do now will determine whether your well-cultivated projects survive the harsh blasts of winter. Do you have a book proposal that several editors rejected with suggestions for improvement? This is a good time to act on their recommendations, so lay out a timeline to correct those manuscripts in coming weeks.
As the sage of old wrote, “To everything there is a season.” Every season is a different opportunity to write for success. Will you make the most of it?
Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth.