Monday, August 13, 2007

Guest Post by Robin Jay

When it comes to giving advice to writers, I love to quote Stephen King. I devoured his book, “On Writing,” (a wonderful book for ANY writer!), in which he said that we need to write our first drafts “with the door closed,” figuratively speaking. It’s such a great visual for creating the ideal mental state for creative writing.

If we start to worry about what our friends or family will say, it will inhibit our creativity. I wonder if I could have written successfully when I was married. My fear or apprehension of what my ex would have thought might have stifled my creativity until anything I might write would end up more homogenized than a carton of 1% milk! Now that I have found my writing voice, I KNOW that I could exist in a relationship without it affecting my word adversely.

The first time someone called me a writer was in 1985. I was studying script writing at UCLA. I went on a blind date with an attorney to a dinner at the home of his partner. That night he introduced me as a writer and I’ll never forget it. I actually FELT like a writer! Let’s see, that was 24 years ago and my first book was just published in 2006. What does that say about my tenacity and perseverance? Or perhaps it just says a lot more about getting off track!

The point is that I remember that moment and how it felt. It felt quite perfect, and I believed I would be a writer some day. We tend to get pigeon-holed, (by those closest to us), in the roles that we’ve played for years. Being supportive of a close friend or family member’s newest venture can be a challenge for the people around them. That is where NEW friends come in! Join a writer’s group, a writer’s chat room or make time with any new friend who doesn’t know the “former you.”

I am friends with a woman for whom I worked thirty years ago. She is an author and professional speaker - just like I am. Judi Moreo, (, who is also on a Virtual Tour this month, works in the same industry and we understand the stresses of speaking in front of large groups, creating the perfect programs, handling the table at the back of the room, creating product, marketing ourselves and everything else that comes with speaking and writing. It is heaven to have a friend with whom I can share the highs, lows and challenges. I have another new friend, Judy Colbert, (we’ve never met, but we are e-mail and phone buddies), who is a writer back east. We met through a mutual friend. This woman is a full-time writer and focuses mostly on travel, spas and history. She does not really speak professionally, though, from what our mutual friend says, she can certainly hold her own on stage. I share a lot with her, too. And I have made the most amazing connections with authors from all over the country and even one special friend in Canada, Susan Zimmer, who just launched “I Love Coffee,” an amazing recipe book for coffee lovers. Susan originally self-published, (like I did), and then sold her work to Andrews McMeel Publishing. Her new book was just released ( Think WE have a lot to share?

My friends and family will never understand exactly what I do, though they are generally supportive. I don’t think my mother has read my book yet; she’s a voracious fiction reader. The first time my sister, Terri, heard me speak, she was blown away. She said, “I knew you’d be good, but I had no idea you’d be THAT good!” Her approval meant the world to me.

Getting back to writing, now…. write like your friends and family will never read your words. Just go for it. Lay it out there….“with the door closed.” Then, for your second draft, make edits and adjustments…. “open the door.” Imagine what someone will think when they read it. Make any necessary changes. Then, after a few more (or a few more DOZEN) rewrites, you might actually be ready to show it to someone. But share it with your writing friends first. It always helps to have the support of someone who understands your world a little better. Oh, and King’s other bit of incredibly valuable advice? He said, “If you want to write, you need to do two things: read a lot and write a lot.” Thank you for reading my two cents worth!



Cheryl said...

What great advice Robin! I have also read King's book and love it! I turn to it for inspiration when I'm feeling less than thrilled with my writing.

You are so right that our friends and family can't always understand what we do. They suport us, but they don't always get why we are writers. When someone asks why I'm a writer I tell him or her, "Why do I breathe? Because I have to!"

Congratulations on your first book. I enjoyed interviewing you at The Book Connection. It is always great to see how other writers approach their craft and to hear about their accomplishments.

May the future bring you much success!


Sharon said...

I'm going to have to read Stephen King's writing book. I'm not a fan of his other books, but I've heard so many good things about this one.

I live in a tiny place where I'm either kin to or went to school with or grew up with everyone. Everybody knows everybody and all their business. Since I've lived my whole life here it's all I know to write about, and I struggle with worry about offending someone unintentionally, whether it's fiction or non-fiction.

It does inhibit my writing some. So far friends and family have enjoyed what I've written, but so far they've only read what I've had published and it's all been good stuff. :)

Thanks for the post. Very interesting. :) Sharon