Friday, March 26, 2010

Tick, Tick, Tick.

What motivates you as a writer? Fame? Money? Glory? We all hope for those to some extent, but what really gets you to sit down and put words on paper?

If your anything like me it's pressure. Unless there's something that makes me feel a real need I just can't bring myself to do it. I think that's why deadlines came into existence, to get people like me to do it.

So what use is this to us? Well like I said before the best way to improve is to write, a lot. You can't always be writing for publication. Sometimes you just need to write for practice. But how do you motivate yourself if you're writing for something as nebulous as practice?

Set your own deadline. Make it something real, something with consequence. When you write to publish the consequence is simple. You don't get published. Do something for yourself to make it real. Whether the outcome is positive or negative depends on you. Personally I'm not much for self flagellation. I bribe myself with a pack of trading cards for a game I enjoy. It works for me.

Now just figure out what works for you and get to it. The clock's ticking.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scribble, Scream, Repeat.

I’m supposed to tell you about writing. Well guess what here’s a treat for you. I don’t know all that much about writing. Can I give you the secret that will unlock bottomless troves of publishing treasure and might? No. Can I bequeath you the location locked in your mind that will reveal all of your full fledged characters? No.

I am a writer, just like you. I get the same rejection letters you do. I struggle to put pen to paper just like you do. I even beat my head against the keyboard into the wee hours of the night, just the same as you. So what could I possibly have to say that’s of any use? How about this?

I’m still doing it.

After years of ridicule growing up, medical mayhem, a family, and general random insanity. I am still at it. That’s what it takes. The majority of people out there “want to write a book.” It’s not that unique of a dream.

What is unique is the fact that you’re here. Your reading this trying to improve your writing. And you know what? You just might. There are any number of ways to improve your writing. Probably the most hyped and least practiced is this. Just write! When it comes down to it the only way to actually get better is to sit down and bang out those words.

And keep at it. Whether it’s every day or every week or every month. Write regularly and as frequently as you can. That’s the thing that will eventually get you published. If you keep trying to learn and keep putting it down on paper, sooner or later you’ll get that all important acceptance letter. And then the next. ;-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Link Salad

I don't know about you, but I LOVE reading articles about writing. And while not every article is useful, I still enjoy reading how other people write, where they get ideas and so forth. With that in mind, here's some links.

CopyBlogger is a blog about blogging. Not everything applies to writers, but there are some really good tips spread around.

How do Agents and Editors Decide Webinar  taught by agent Rachell Gardner.  This should be really good.  And everyone who signs up gets a query and five pages looked at.  It's not free but should be worth the price.

If You're Writing a Memoir then check out these great tips. 

Seventh Sanctum is just one of the coolest places online.  Not only do they have name generators, they have so many others, you just have to go check them out for yourself.  I especially love the tavern and room generators.  Now, some names won't work but they often can be tweaked or will inspire one that will.  Be prepared to spend time there...and take a pen and paper.

And lastly...if you love cats,  you need to stop in HERE.  This is another place you might be tempted to spend a lot of time so only visit when you aren't busy. :-)  I follow them on Twitter so I won't miss the new ones.  Plus, it saves me from having to catch up later.

Enjoy...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

On Getting Tough...

Writers groups are so much fun! We all support one another and root one another on. When no one else in the world can understand our frustrations, a fellow groupie can. Nothing quite like it, is there? It's all chocolate and roses, until...

We ask for a critique. And get what we asked for. Only what we got wasn't exactly what we hoped to get. We were looking for something in a gold box, tied with a red bow, a sweet note inside saying, "If I died today I could die happy having read this story. My life is fulfilled."

Instead what we got is a note on the outside of a cardboard box saying, "Think outside the box." "This story has no structure, no POV, no emotion. It isn't believable, it isn't properly written. If I died today it would be heartbreaking that this story was the last thing I read. I'm going for a newspaper right now."

A devestaed writer hangs his head and cries. "They don't understand me...I was being subtle...I was using undertones...I was going for effect! It's my style for God's sake! How can they not see what beauty I have given them. I HATE them! They are just stupid!"

The writer has two choices here. They can either wait a few days, calm down and read the critique again, forcing themselves to go line by line and begin murdering those darlings...and some orphans too; or they can wad up the note along with the story, put it all in the box and set it on fire. Walk away, never to write again.
(Well I guess they might try and send the story out as they wrote it, being certain that the critiquer was wrong. But that would be publishing suicide)
If the writer is going to become and author, he best learn to write a story properly. The best way to learn the technique is by a critique of our peers. Once we throw our fits, get mad, eat dirt and get all the drama out of the way, we get a tougher skin; we begin to evolve in who we really are, storytellers.

The quicker you learn to take critisism of your work, the more rapidly the tough skin will grow and before you know it, you see it for what it is; a hand up.

G

Friday, March 05, 2010

It's the Story Stupid!

In politics they have a saying, "It's the economy stupid!" For we consumers, it's always about the economy. Without a strong economy, I can't buy your book. So yeah, it is the economy stupid.

Fortunately I have been able to buy a few books lately, popular, commercial fiction, New York Times bestsellers. And may I say in my humble opinion, most of them are badly; and I do mean badly written. I have been disappointed that in this tough economy I spent good money on bad books. But I also have been enlightened, something money can't buy.

How do they do it, these authors who are not writers. How do they sell a gazzillion books and help write the screenplay for the blockbuster movie when they can't properly construct a sentence? And how dare an editor throw my properly written story onto the slush pile in favor of someone who doesn't know an adverb from their elbow?

I tell you how they dare. Cause it's all about the story, stupid.

These authors who are not writers, these interlopers who flew over us on the wings of our own shoulder vultures and landed safely in their editors arms are not to be hated. We should not despise their easy rise to the top; although sometimes that is almost impossible. We should learn from them the one thing that seperates us from them. Story.

"Tell me a story."

In the end, after all of your plotting and planning, grammar checks and revisions, if you don't have a great story, you got nothin' to say.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

In the news...

Publish America will now send your PA book to Random House.  I'm sure Random House is thrilled.

See why this is not a good thing here.

Be sure to check out the comments along with the link to the original source at the bottom of the post.    Then tell your friends.

And while you're at it...bookmark Janet Reid's blog.  It's a great place to spend a few minutes each day catching up on things.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Little Bitty Bites

Every morning last week I woke and thought, “I am going to re-write that story this week, starting today.” And today and today and it never happened. It’s Saturday night, I need to have it ready by tomorrow and all I have managed thus far is to change the opening lines. And I call myself a writer!

Well, yeah, I do. Call myself a writer that is. Still, in spite of my best efforts the story lay in four stacks at my feet. My original, and three critiques, complete with edits. J I spent the past 6 days scribbling all over them, making notations and dabbing up the tears of frustration that kept dripping from my chin. Every spare chance I had I was shuffling papers and pondering the story. And all of this brought forth only one sentence.

While cutting up chicken into bite size pieces for our young grandson tonight, it occurred to me that I have been re-writing all wrong. I’m not sure why I have always done it the way I do, trying to take on the whole thing at once. It’s no wonder I choke.

No more.

After dinner I got the baby to sleep and came back in here to my desk, picked up the first two pages of my story and laid them aside. I put the rest of the story, along with the three critiques in a folder and put it in my desk drawer. I am going to re-write those two pages tomorrow. If I find two pages to be too intimidating, I’ll start with one.

The first thing I will tell myself when I wake up in the morning is “Today I am going to re-write two pages.” I’ll let you know how it goes.

**Posted by Jean for Sherry who had issues with blogger today.**