A Paradox of Choices for the New Writer

As a developmental psychologist, I’m familiar with the literature on emerging adulthood (those vibrant and scary years from ages 18 – 25, which in the writing field are referred to as New Adult or NA) that discusses how the prolific amount of choices available in many NA’s lives creates more distress, remorse, and confusion than it does feelings of contentment at the vast opportunities available.  Social scientists have called it the Paradox of Choice: an abundance of choices makes us less happy, not more.  And this principle is not limited to NA.  It applies across the lifespan, be it choices of careers, cleaning products, designer jeans, or romantic partners.

And, in the last few weeks, I’ve found it applies to the supportive, yet expansive, online community for writers seeking publication.  The help and advice available online is prolific.  My greatest difficulty has not been in finding information, encouragement, or options for feedback and (hopefully) publication.  As comes with this paradox, it has been in focusing my attention amidst the variety available.  For the last several days in particular, as I’ve targeted my need to reinforce my  ‘writer’s platform’, I found myself flitting excitedly from one detailed and archived website to a twitter feed to a message board  to a much needed sip of coffee and then back again, without taking in any real depth of information.

So, I am writing this post today in part to help organize my own ricocheting ideas and also to hopefully help other writers who are in a similar stage of their journey as a writer.

Helpful Content for Unpublished Writers (the Shortlist):

1) Writer’s Digest  is a powerhouse of helpful content, spanning from new literary agent profiles (who are building their client lists), to writing contests they sponsor, to expert advice on the writing process and more.

2) Brenda Drake (@brendadrake) is a multi-published author and a strong advocate for new writers.  Her website features a variety of unique opportunities she organizes to help connect authors with agents, including #PitMad, #PitchWars, and several workshops with writing pros offering personal feedback.

3) Laura Zats is an agent with Red Sofa Literary and is currently featuring her #500Queries posts, where she graciously posts her reactions to the slush pile of queries she receives.  It paints a vivid portrait of the good, bad, and ugly of queries agents find in their inboxes and can help writers avoid making fatal errors in their own submissions.

4) QueryTracker and AbsoluteWrite are forums that offer free registration for writers.  Both provide opportunities for finding beta-readers, asking questions to the forum community, and agent/publisher information.

Wishing you luck!


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