Let Your Light So Shine

Today I read this in C. Hope Clark’s December 13th, 2009 FFW Small Markets newsletter:


Everyone starts small. We have to begin somewhere. In our writing, we struggle with whether to write for free or not, whether to pitch to teeny websites or not, whether to write for a dollar per 500-word article for some writer mill. Regardless, we have to start small and work up.

Start small, but be the best darn person there and give it your impressive all. Make people read you and wonder why you are writing here instead of in a larger publication. Be a wonder, even if it’s on a no-name blog.

Be good enough to make people marvel at the work.

All professionals took on small roles in the outset, just for the chance to put on a show. They had a passion and would rather start small than not start at all.

However . . . these successful professionals moved on once they left an impression. They made a splash and graduated to a larger pool.

With Craigslist and writing forums stuffed full of nickle and dime writing offers, insecure writers have all the opportunity in the world to get stuck writing for trickle-pay venues. It takes guts and a desire to earn a living at this crazy craft to keep climbing, climbing out of the rut of small-time jobs.

Start small and shine big. Wow and amaze. But once you’ve become a known quantity in that teeny arena, step out and up, stretching your writing muscles and pulling those new-found fans with you.

Start with a tea light. You can keep replacing it with other teeny tea light candles as each burns out. However,you could replace it with a larger candle, then a bigger
one until you have a bonfire going that stays lit for many more folks to see.

Hope Clark

I love the analogy at the end. Now I’m ready to go write some more of the first draft of my essay for the Procrastinating Writers Blog essay contest. You still have time to enter if you’re so inclined.

Speaking of first drafts, I loathe them. (Although I do write them.) I’m always curious about the approaches other writers use to write first drafts. Readers who write out there, do you have any tips or techniques you’d like to share?


  1. My best tip is to write, just write, and keep on writing. Some where along the way something you write will resonate with you when you read it back, a gem among the rest, and as Hope Clark suggests like a small tea light it will grow into a bonfire.

  2. There is no short cut to writing a first draft. You just drag yourself through it. I hate first drafts, too. I adore editing. Many writers are the opposite. In either case, you just make yourself do it. Thanks for the mention! I received a good number of replies in relation to the tea light. I'm adding that example to my next presentation in January at a retreat in NC – in the form of handing out real tea lights.

  3. Hi Hope! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments! I agree with you, I love editing, but getting the words down to edit is an uncomfortable process for me. You do have to drag yourself through it, but it's always worth it.
    The tea light analogy is striking, and I'm happy to hear you're going further with it at your retreat next month! I don't think I'll look at a tea light the same again! Thanks Hope, for all that you do to inspire writers, and Happy New Year to you!

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