Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
People love big statistical numbers that point toward your failure.
These same people will happily tell you writing is a crapshoot, hardly
anyone succeeds, and they wish they had time to write but they’re busy
having a life. Things we as writers already knew and gee, thanks for
reminding me that I really do miss tv.
So what do you do to keep a professional game face on twitter and (if
you have one) your blog? Obviously this means you won't be
descriptively giving this person a horrific death and sharing it with
the world anytime soon. But next time you sit down to write, alone
with your imagination, those doubts will be in the back of your mind
haunting you. Here is the scary part of writing that separates the
would be from the doers. We’re alone when we write. There is no wise
coach yelling at us from the sideline, no teammates to pick up our
slack, no curve to upset except our previous work.
How can we stay happy writers then if naysayers and dream suckers
disrupt where the stories live? You can grab a mentor to keep you
company and ward off such bad juju. I don't mean an actual person.
That could be boring or hard to manage. A book from an author you
identify with is the mentor I suggest. Mine happens to be Barbara
As I write, when the doubts creep on me and leave the cursor blinking
for more than a few seconds, I look over to the book I choose. It
reminds me in a voice I think of as Barbara Hambly’s to focus the
doubt and find the real source. I ask myself is this doubt really
about my odds or is it because my character is flat, this scene has no
purpose or could I be unloading more conflict? I make that doubt
professional craft fodder and banish it with the aid of a mentor who
waits to give me that little boost.
Because sometimes it is too scary to talk about those sort of doubts
with a cheerleading family member, friend or fellow writer in the
trenches. Their biased praise really isn’t the fail proof cure for it.
The doubt isn’t always going to go away so easily, that’s what
chocolate and hugs are for too. If writing was simple as always
feeling good nothing would ever be written, however, having a secret
weapon doesn’t hurt either.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Let's Get Some Writer's Optimism
Writers complain about everything under the sun. They can’t think of any ideas, the story doesn’t develop the way they want, it’s too hard to revise, they can’t get published, their book doesn’t sell. People call writing a hell, an uphill battle where every step along the way is agonizing.
I ask them: then why do you do it?
They always answer proudly. “Because I must.”
I ask them why they “must.” It’s not like they have a boss who will fire them if they stop writing. It’s not like their family will disown them. God didn’t forbid you from ceasing to write and you won't go to hell. There is no greater force that compels a person to write.
“It’s in the core of my being,” writers insist. “I can’t stop writing any more than I can stop breathing, no matter how hard it gets.”
As far as I know, only people with obsessive-compulsive disorder must do things whether they want to or not.
You can put down your pen right now. You can stare at an empty page, and you don’t have to fill it.
But you will fill that page. You will pick up that pen, and you will use it to create something beautiful.
Why? Because you have to? Or maybe – and I’m just throwing this idea out there – because you want to?
Is there a chance you actually enjoy writing?
If writing is the core of your being, doing it will be the greatest of pleasures. Sometimes when I get going, I feel intoxicated by the power of what I write and how much it resonates with me. I want to throw my arms in the air and shout to the world, “I am a writer! I love every minute of it, and I don’t regret a single word!”
Please, please don’t get discouraged if writing causes you pain or if it seems like more of a wicked compulsion than the joy I just described. I’m not saying you have an inadequate core. The fact of the matter is, we’ve heard artists act like martyrs for so long that it can become ingrained in us. Tapping into optimism might be difficult, at first. But it’s there for the taking.
Think of it like forbidden fruit. You see juicy, red, luscious fruit hanging from a tree. This is the ability to feel nothing but pure happiness that you have the gift of writing. This is the satisfaction of knowing that what you write is a part of you, is infinitely meaningful to you, and even when it’s hard, you can enjoy every step of the process. You can even enjoy revising.
You want to eat this fruit, but other writers are watching you. They starve themselves because they pretend like writing isn’t the most wonderful thing in the world. They self-inflict misery to make themselves feel important and to give their life meaning.
As you reach out your hand for the fruit, what do you see the writers saying to you? What are the words that go through your mind when you dare to be optimistic about what you write?
These are some of the things I hear: “If you aren’t challenged to the point of pain, you’re not working hard enough. You’re just fiddling with pretty words. We are better than you because we actually challenge ourselves. Real writers have a difficult time. Real writers suffer.”
Pluck that fruit. Take a huge bite – as much as will fit in your mouth. Feel the juice run down your chin. You can be a happy writer.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I have always liked to paint, and I've always been kind of horrible at it. But lately it's been one of those cathartic things I do when I'm super stressed. It's just fun to mess around with. There's something about getting a little messy and mixing colors that makes me forget my worries for a moment.