Here's the cute lie that most people believe: Writing is more than a skill, a pastime or a way of making a living. It is a vocation - like being a nurse or missionary. In order to commit yourself, and impress those that would read your work, you have to want to do it for nothing.Indeed this is how many of us become writers - it's something we feel compelled to do, whether asked to, required to or not!
Certainly, I've noticed that when you first start dealing with publishers, your enthusiasm, commitment and talent are of primary concern. Any talk of money too early in the process will see you ostracized very quickly. You're supposed to want to write for yourself - for Art's sake - first.
I guess it's about trust. The people that would help us get our work seen - in other words, published - need to be sure that our motives are sincere. That we write for some purpose other than just to make money.
Robyn and I have discussed this aspect of the writer's dilemma many times - and we have a counter argument.
Writing is time consuming, hard work sometimes and almost impossible to sustain a good living at for most writers - 80% make less than $10,000 a year according to the last survey I read.
It's clear that if writers don't get paid, they can't continue writing - at least not without considering poverty as a career choice.
Given the vast millions that publishers make, I've always thought that they should pay new writers to submit work - but of course that's never going to happen! There's simply too many would be writers who are willing to chance it based on nothing more than a vague possibility of success.
But This is To Your Advantage
Because for every one hundred writers that try and fail - either through discouragement, the apathy of publishers, or the sheer force of having to pay the rent - there's one, like you, that ain't givin' up!
But how do you sustain the momentum - the will and the courage to continue?
Easy. Get obsessed. Dream about your writing success. Fantasize about it every moment of every day. Create a compulsion within yourself that cannot be undermined.
Be insane. Be illogical. Be unrealistic!
Over the years I've noticed something very telling. The writers with the most talent don't always rise to the top. But the writers who don't stop and won't take no for an answer, and just keep going regardless of criticism and bad experiences, are the ones that make it - every time.
Reflection Strengthens Determination
Actively thinking about your writing is not just about trying to improve or responding positively to feedback, it's about organizing your thoughts and reactions to to what people say about your writing. You can take criticism well or badly. It can fire you up or destroy you. It's your choice.
I used to think I wasn't good enough to be a professional writer - and my lack of success reinforced that view.
But I had it all wrong. What I failed to understand at the time was that, if you just keep going, respond to feedback and keep plugging away at new projects, you become good enough over time.
Your technique may improve. You may begin to write more effectively or tell better stories. But none of that matters if you don't have the single minded drive to overcome the apparent obstacles to your success.
It's too easy to get discouraged. The system is designed for that to happen - to weed out those that are not determined.
Take heart, if you are fully commited, there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome, there are no barriers - real or imagined - that you cannot triumph over.
In the words of a very old cliche - and things become cliches, remember, usually because they're true:
"There is nothing you can't do once you set your mind to it."
So, go for it!
© Rob Parnell
Are you stuck on a writing project? Or is there something you'd love to write, but you can't get up the nerve to start? In over 25 years of writing, I've found that writing happens on the page.Just start writing. You can't do anything until you begin.
Other writers make the same point. In his book *Immediate
Fiction, A Complete Writing Course*, author Jerry Cleaver recommends that when you're writing, "you leap first and look later". Cleaver believes that when you're creating, you should let your imagination do the heavy lifting. Daydream. Pretend. Let your imagination lead you where it wants to go. You will write more, and reach places you can’t get to in any other way.
Writing, like any creative endeavor, requires that we use both sides of our brain, the left and the right. Our left brain is the dominant partner, and while we're awake, our left brain is active. This means that when we think: "No way, I could never write a book" or "I could never write a screenplay" we're taking the word of our left brain.
The creative impulse came from our creative right brain, but our left brain, which deals in realities, immediately said: "Whoa!
No, you've no evidence for that. Couldn’t do that --- you've never done it before. Wouldn’t work. Silly idea."
Take a moment. Think. How often have you taken the word of your left brain? Decide today, that whenever you get a creative impulse, the very impulse which gave you that idea also knows how to make it work, so all you have to do is put your body in the
place where that can happen. The creative impulse comes to all creatives, so if you get an impulse to take a photograph, or paint, or cook, or sew a scarf --- follow through. For writers, the place to follow through is with a pen in hand, or in front of a computer screen.
Here's a process to use to become familiar with writing before you look. Try it. It will feel unfamiliar at first, and you'll worry about whether you're doing it "right". Be assured that as long as your body is relaxed, your left brain is (more or less) out of the way, and you're freeing your creative right brain.
=> The Write Before You Look Process
==> One: Clear your mind
From the moment you wake up in the morning, your left brain is in charge. This side of your brain does a great job of getting you where you need to be, and helps you to fit into society, but it's not creative.
To allow your right brain's creative impulses to get your attention, you need to quiet your left brain. Any repetitive task will do this. Knitting and needlework are good. So are walking and driving, and taking a shower. Listening to classical music also works.
You can't always be moving around, so it's best to learn a sit- down process. The easiest way to clear your mind is to progressively relax every part of your body. If you've ever done any stress-reduction courses, you'll know that in progressive relaxation you focus on your body from your toes to the top of your head, and gently relax all your muscles. Just take each part of your body in turn, and tell each set of muscles to relax.
When you first learn this process, it can take around ten minutes to become completely calm and relaxed. After a few weeks, you'll
be able to do it in less than a minute. You can speed up the process by mentally saying "relax" to each part of your body. In time, you'll become as limp as cooked spaghetti whenever you say the magic word to yourself.
==> Two: Write down your creative impulses
When you're completely relaxed, gently focus on your breathing. You'll find that your breaths gradually deepen more and more, and that they slow right down. This is the effect you want.
When your breathing has slowed, keep focusing on your breathing, but also think about what creative work you'd like to do. What would you like to write, if you could?
Just daydream for five minutes. If a creative idea comes to you, write it down, then drift back into your daydream.
You may not get any creative ideas while you're daydreaming. They may come later as you're doing something else. This is fine. Your right brain doesn’t "think" in language. It uses feelings and emotions to communicate. Your left brain translates these right-
brain impulses into words. When you first start to actively try to get creative ideas, the communication between the two sides of
your brain is slow. It will become more rapid the more you practice.
==> Three: Follow through on an impulse immediately if you can
Got a creative idea? Great.
If you can, follow through on it immediately. If you can’t, write down enough of the idea so that you can recall it easily later in
the day. Vital: also write down any images which are floating through your mind. What mental pictures do you see? These are additional parts of the creative impulse that your left brain hasn't yet translated into words. Capture them now by writing them down.
Some writers find that they can immediately write an entire 2000 word article, or a chapter of a book after they clear their mind.
This process is very powerful.
==> Four: Drop judgments --- enjoy making a mess
You've followed through, and you're writing. However, it’s messy.
It doesn’t completely make sense.
Excellent!! This is exactly what you want. It's your guarantee that the idea you're developing is original. All creation starts with a mess.
Work on the project again tomorrow. Keep working. Chances are that you're making a creative breakthrough. Remember it's your
left brain that's making these early judgments. You can safely ignore them.
==> Five: Never assume that you "know" anything
You've cleared your mind, and when you read through your creative ideas later you get scared to death. You can't do this. You can't
write a complete book, or submit your article proposal to Redbook. And you surely can’t dig that manuscript out of your bottom drawer and whip it in shape to send to a publisher.
Of course you can. Remember, your left brain is NOT creative.
Clearing your mind so that you can let your creative right brain work will convince you that you DO have lots of creative ideas.
Unfortunately, your left brain doesn’t trust them. That's OK. Remember that the part of your brain that's belittling all your ideas is your left brain.
Ignore it. Trust your creative impulses and follow through. Clear your mind first, to muffle your left brain. Then let your right
brain do the creative work.
Write before you look. That's the entire process. Try it. You'll amaze yourself.
Remember: the creative impulse that gave you the idea, also knows how to carry out the idea. So if you've got an impulse to write a
book, write it. You already have everything you need to do it.
© Angela Booth
Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
Dear Fellow Writer,,
Watched Scream 4 the other day.
I love the Scream movies for that deliberate self consciousness of the genre they use as part of the plot. It's a clever device - a kind of nudge nudge, wink wink at the audience. Instead of: "this is not a movie, it's real life" - Scream goes beyond to: "this really is a movie, about movie cliche, and we both know - and love - it!"
Anyway, in between Ghost-face's customary chasing and slashing, the movie explores the role of the Net in our daily lives, pointing out that, in a sense, our generation lives in public.
Social networking sites allow us to document the things we do - or want to be seen to be doing, anyway. Reality shows give us the impression everything we do is somehow interesting and noteworthy.
But as the killer points out in the final scenes, when everybody is famous, what have you got to do to stand out? And what price do you pay for trying?
Notoriety tends to trivialize issues and people. An earth shattering private idea quickly becomes diluted, seemingly crass and often largely ineffective when made public - have you noticed that?
I guess it's really about motivation. What sparks the need for 'fame' - or for some kind of an audience? Is it just human nature to want to be watched - and adored?
When the killer gives the obligatory, explanatory speech at the end of the movie, Ghost-face says, "But you don't understand. I don't need friends, I want fans!"
Says it all.
© Rob Parnell
In the summer of 1990 I decided that I wanted to start writing. I had the means (a computer), I had a little time, and I had the desire to do something a little more creative than watching TV. So, being that sort of chap, I bought half a dozen books on the subject. The first few gave some thoughts on the wonders of being a writer, ran over some basic techniques, discussed Hemingway and Faulkner, and suggested some exercises which ranged from the interesting to the inane. They gave me some ideas to while away a few hours whilst making it perfectly clear that someone like me would never actually be able to complete a book, let alone get it published.
Then I turned to the two Writer's Workshop books, *Characters & Viewpoint and Plot*. Suddenly my interest quickened. These books were about writing real books and stories, the sort which are all around us, which people read everyday. They discussed the practicalities of making characters come to life, of planning and then controlling the plot. And, what was most important, they made me think that writing a book could be fun, something that even I could do, and something I would enjoy. Somehow the nitty gritty of how to put a book together seemed to make the whole activity much more exciting than inspirational thoughts on the trials and tribulations of being an author.
I couldn't wait to get started. But, I thought, I had better pace myself, write a few scenes, a short story or two. My first exercise was to write the opening scene of a novel. I wrote about the most exciting thing I could think of what had happened to me (coping with a large bond trade that went wrong), and then I exaggerated a bit.
After half an hour of clumsy tapping, I was hooked. Bugger the exercises, I wanted to write the whole book! So, I started a plan, much of it whilst I was munching a sandwich in a quiet courtyard just behind the Bank of England. Planning was difficult. I spent several weeks worrying over character and plot, and practical tips that eked from the pages of my two Writer's Workshop books were invaluable.
Eventually, I began writing. Much to my surprise, a year later, I actually completed a draft. I showed it to my wife and friends. The criticisms came flooding back; characters are too superficial, no sense of place, too many cliches in character as well as metaphor, not enough twists in the plot, the ending was no good, and many more. Depressed, I put the writing to one side.
But I missed it. Several months later, I dug out my manuscript and reread it. It wasn't all bad, and I could see what my circle of critics meant - I even agreed with them on most things. So, I set out to solve the problems. Once again the Writer's Workshop books were useful. How could I make my hero more sympathetic? How could I pace the plot better? The existing ending had to go entirely, what would work as a replacement? I found hints and clues that eventually led to answers.
To work again. Another draft, more criticism, yet another draft, and by the autumn of 1993 I had a book which was about as good as it was going to get. I wrote a synopsis and sent it off to some agents together with a couple of chapters.
I was fully prepared for a rejection. I knew that the odds were against finding a publisher for a first novel, however good, but I was willing to persevere, working my way down a long list of agents. But even if the book were never published the three years of hard work were well worthwhile. I had enjoyed writing it, my wife and friends had, eventually, enjoyed reading it.
I was lucky. The second agent on my list, Carole Blacke of Blacke Friedmann, liked my book. She sent it to a number of publishers with an enthusiastic note. Five of them began bidding against each other, and within a month I had sold *Free To Trade* to Heinemann for an advance which exceeded all my expectations. Carole subsequently sold the rights to thirteen countries. I can now afford to write during the day rather than in odd corners of the evening or weekend.
It would be wrong to pretend that publication isn't important; of course we all want to see our books in bookshops. But there is so much more about the process of writing a book that is interesting; rewarding and just plain fun, which I believe, is more important. I am convinced that it is the enjoyment of the writing process; rather than a desire for publication or an attempt to write what sells, which leads in the end to the creation of your book.
These books helped me understand something of this process, and made me realise it was something I wanted to do. I have subsequently read, *Dialogue, Setting and Revision*, all of which have an equally down to earth approach to the problems every writer faces. Read these books. Enjoy them. And start writing. It's fun!
© Michael Ridpath