Writing Demons

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Writers are often worriers. We’re plagued with indecision about the choices we make for our stories. We doubt the quality of our writing. We wonder if we’ll ever break through into the realm of publication, recognition, and even celebration. We sometimes fret that we’re wasting our efforts entirely in a profession with few to no rewards.

I can be the perfect example of that — inherited from my mother, I guess.  She is writing a children’s novel.  She has the entire book sketched out but is agonizing over the first sentence.  My advice?  Skip it and go on.  There is no rule that you have to write in a certain order.  Figure out what you want to do, write bits when you can, and piece them together later. 

Develop a modus operandi and USE it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect to produce a book a day.

Think of it metaphorically as a baby:  first you have the conception (the plan), then it takes nine months of worry, trials, and tribulations, and finally the day comes — painful, but you have a beautiful baby (a book).

Rachel Scheller from Writer’s Digest.com has some great examples:

Not long after his novel Hold Tight debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-seller list, Harlan Coben was speaking to a crowd of suspense readers. He was asked if, with all his success, he still felt insecure with any part of his writing. He laughed and admitted that’s the writer’s stock in trade. Coben said he always gets to a point in a work-in-progress when he thinks, “This is terrible! I used to be so good. When did I lose it?”

In fact, if you’re not insecure about your writing, Coben says, you’re either mailing in forgettable stuff or somebody else is writing for you.

You will worry if you are a writer. Turn that worry into writing.

 

I explained that at the bottom, where most of the people are, is the realm of the “want to.” Or “think I have a book inside me.” But outside of some scribblings, maybe a short story or two, perhaps an unfinished novel, these people never move on to the next level …

… which is where people like you are (I told her). Those who actually try to learn something about writing. Who buy writing books, go to conferences, take classes … and write.

Above that is the level for those who actually finish a full-length novel. This is a great place to be. This is where real writers come from.

The next level holds those who write another novel, because the first one is probably going to be rejected. They do this, because they are novelists, not just someone who happened to write a novel.

Next are those who get published. Above that are those who are published multiple times.

At the very top is a Wheel of Fortune. This wheel goes around and lands on a book like Cold Mountain. Or The Shack. No one can control this.

Your job, I told the young woman, is to keep moving up the pyramid. Each level presents its own challenges, so concentrate on the ones right in front of you. As you move up, you’ll notice there are fewer people, not more. If you work hard, you might get a novel on the wheel, and that’s as far as you can get. After that, it’s not up to you anymore.

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started

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Let Your Voice Be Heard

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Even famous authors sometimes have a tough time with writing; they also go through periods of self-doubt. Despite this, they always manage to come up with the goods. So take a lesson from them and stop putting off your writing plans and get started on your publishing journey today.

There has never been a better time than now to realize your dream of becoming a published author. Let your voice be heard and let your story be told. Never let your passion for writing wane.

IUniverse has some great tips to use as an inspirational guide—or better yet, print a copy to put on your desk, home office, refrigerator door, or somewhere else noticeable so you can be constantly reminded not to let your story ideas wither away by putting off your writing.  I was going to just mention a few of these, but they are so good and so appropriate I listed them all.

Tip1: “My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt.” — Michael Moorcock

Tip 2: “Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.” — Zadie Smith

Tip 3: “Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.” — Michael Moorcock

Tip 4: “In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.” — Rose Tremain

Tip 5: “Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” — Will Self

Tip 6: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” — Jonathan Franzen

“Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” — Zadie Smith

Tip 7: “Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.” — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 8: “Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear).” — Diana Athill

Tip 9: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

Tip 10: “Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted ‘first readers.'” — Rose Tremain

Tip 11: “Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.” — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 12: “Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.” — Sarah Waters

Tip 13: “The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can’t deal with this you needn’t apply.” — Will Self

Tip 14: “Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!” — Joyce Carol Oates

Tip 15: “The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.” — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 16: “Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.” — Elmore Leonard

Tip 17: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” — Neil Gaiman

Tip 18: “You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.” — Will Self

Tip 19: “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman

Tip 20: “The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” — Helen Simpson

 

http://www.iuniverse.com/ExpertAdvice/20WritingTipsfrom12FictionAuthors.aspx

Carpe Diem

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“Carpe Diem!” Seize the day! So I thought I’d do it:) 

This is an old Latin expression that more or less means take advantage of your opportunities as they come.  Don’t procrastinate and don’t waste time.

Ironically and quite tragically, it’s one of the lines Robin Williams became famous for as the inspiring prep school teacher John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society.  If you haven’t seen the movie, you should.  Writing (especially poetry) isn’t exactly a hot topic in Hollywood, so when you find such a fine actor and fine script in combo, you cannot help but be inspired.

However, another line, another massively passive line that often goes unnoticed is

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

People have been quoting some version of “the pen is mightier than the sword” for as long as I can remember.  The quotation is usually attributed to Shakespeare (wrong)! 

I don’t usually consult Wikipedia, but in this instance, I am simply doing this to drive home the point that the concept is an old one and used in many different forms of literature. Actually Euripides, who died c. 406 BC, wrote: “The tongue is mightier than the blade.”

Other similarities include: “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr“.

In 1529, Antonio de Guevara compared a pen to a lance, books to arms, and a life of studying to a life of war.

“The dashe of a Pen, is more greeuous than the counterbuse of a Launce.”

William Shakespeare in 1600, in his play Hamlet Act 2, scene II, wrote: “… many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills.”

“The sentence (but not the idea, which had been expressed in various earlier forms) was coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy.

True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!

And so I end with the sanctity of the word.  Without words, we cannot form ideas.  Without ideas, society cannot evolve.  We need words.  Write and change the world!

 

If you are interested in following this thread further, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_pen_is_mightier_than_the_sword