Does it ever feel like writing is akin to being held in solitary confinement? Nothing but you, your imagination and a rock to scratch a note on the wall in the hopes that someone, anyone, will hear what you have to say?
Ok, that's a little melodramatic, but writing can be pretty lonely if you let it.
I had someone recently ask me to post some more links to contests and such--stating that they were new to all this writing biz. So that got me thinking about a couple pieces of advises that I'll join together.
I've been spending the last week alone in the bedroom (where my internet access computer is) hunting up agents for novels and markets for short stories, while out in the world it's a sunny day--and Saturday today to boot.
I suggest that if your schedule and circumstance will allow it--take a field trip every now and then. Get out of your hole--where ever it is that you write--and go to your local free Wi-Fi access haunt and spend the day out in the world. You may not actually talk to the folks you see--but seeing them is nice.
So if your writing plan (and I suggest you make some--more on that later) for the day is searching for markets, head out to a bookstore, coffeehouse,what have you, get a cup of coffee (or six) and plug in to something like newpages or duotrope and take some time to research markets. You may also find copies of some of these mags depending on the bookstore.
I like each of these sites for different reasons. Duotrope has a feature that lets you customize you search if say--you're low on funds and looking only for places that accept online submissions. The downfall here is that when you limit your search--well, you limit your search.
Newpages on the other hand requires a bit more plow through but as you're searching and paying more attention to the websites it leads you to, other avenues such as contests and chapbook presses and so forth cross your path.
This is why I say to plan to spend some time and make that time enjoyable. We tend to put alot of effort into the writing and no as much into the publishing and what that gets you is very much like the rock scratchings on the prison wall. They could be brilliant--but who will ever know.
So, since your goal is put your writing out in the world--spend some time out there yourself. Don't let yourself get distracted, you're there to work--but a change in senery can motivate you.