World of Words Posts

"You ARE an Artist!"

Tip # 12: You ARE an artist!

We’ve talked a lot about the business of writing, but I want to really emphasize something here…YOU ARE AN ARTIST…make no mistake about it and never doubt it…what you are creating is art…and it requires an artist’s patience, an artist’s drive and creativity, and an artist’s indulgence and sensitivity…although there are millions of us out here, we are each unique individuals…not everyone will understand or support us and that’s ok…not everyone will be able to deal with us and our temperamental nature, but guess what? That’s ok too…I say all of this to say this: respect yourself as an artist and respect your work as art…even if no one else does…make sure you always do…because it starts AND ends right there…

“Time is Money!”

Tip #11: Time is Money

“Time is money” We’ve all heard this saying before right? Probably many, many times over. It’s a classic saying meant to convey a sense of urgency and a disdain for wasting hours, minutes, and seconds and any other measure of passing time. There is a reason why this saying has been around as long as many of us can probably remember. Why? Well, because it is the absolute, unquestioned truth especially when it comes to business. And this pursuit of our chosen craft, this dream-chasing in which we have all endeavored is a business. And make no mistake, writing for public purchase and consumption IS a business …So in this business, wasted time is wasted money. With the understanding that the only way this journey will get traveled is if we put pen to paper, fingers to computer keyboard and get this thing done. So, keeping this in mind, it is important for all of us to remember that if we allow ourselves more than the momentary and occasional “shut down and reboot” session, we run the risk of slipping into procrastination. And when we do this, we are taking food out of our mouths. Like we discussed in the last post, there is always something we can be doing to assist with the progress of our craft. Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying here, I am not advocating that you burn yourself out or overwhelm yourself to the point where you don’t know which way is up and the rest of your life is suffering as a result. However, we all have stories to tell, right? I mean, that WHY we are walking this road which is often bumpy and winding and full of potholes and some times even dead-ends. And these stories aren’t going to write themselves, right? No way, no how. So here we go...this is where the pack gets thinned out…where the pretenders are separated from the contenders (I have clichés for days, trust me…I can go on and on and on)…This is where you decide “hey, I’m going to get this done one way or another, this book or story or whatever else I am working on is going to get written and written very well.” It’s important that we make this decision and we hold ourselves accountable to this decision, because see, most everyone talks a good game, but not everyone can play a good game…

 

 

“Writer’s Block? What’s That?”

Writer’s Block. Those two infamous words that writers never want to hear or experience. But, unfortunately, we find ourselves having to deal with it from time to time. It’s inevitable. In fact, it’s to be expected. That way we can be better prepared to handle it and work our way through it. There will be a time when you hit that wall in your project. It happens. Maybe you are just in the beginning stages of your project or maybe you are well into it and you’re just hitting your stride, and then…out of the blue, your creative mind abandons you. Your story loses its way and comes to a standstill like gridlocked rush hour traffic. You will feel drained of all of your creativity and like you are the worst writer ever. That’s ok because, whatever the cause of your writer’s block, sometimes you need to step back and breathe. You need to allow some distance to get in between you and your project so you when you come back to it, you will see it with a fresh set of creative eyes. However, when this happens, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be productive in your writing.

As writers today, we all have to wear multiple hats. It doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published with the power of one of the “New York Big 5” conglomerates behind you or if you are self-published or “indie” published. In all of these situations, you are most likely wearing the promoter’s hat, the public relations hat, and on and on and on. So, when you hit that wall called writer’s block, don’t continue to butt your head against it. Instead, go around it until you find yourself in a creative position to actually move that wall. This is really when you have to trust your project, but also examine it with a magnifying glass.

If your project is built on a solid foundation, then never fear, your creativity will return and you will get back on track. But on the other hand, if you look at your project and you see holes, then that could be the cause of your writer’s block and you’ll probably need to fill those holes before you can move on in your project.

Let’s say you are dealing with the former. Your project is solid and you just find yourself at a creative impasse with it. No problem. Like we said earlier in this post, step back and allow yourself and your project to breathe. In the meantime, stay busy with other writers’ tasks. Get on social media and promote your work, write a new blog post, or update your website. You can also begin outlining another project, do some research, or other reading. Whatever it takes to keep yourself busy and productive until you can get back to work on your project.

So, what’s the bottom-line here? When Writer’s Block rears its ugly head, take a short break when needed, but always find a way to keep working. In fact, as I type this block post, I’m experiencing a bit of writer’s block with my current novel. And that’s ok because there is always plenty of other work to be done. So, as we head into 2018, let's all make a writer's resolution to keep writing no matter what. This machine only stops grinding if we allow it to stop. 

HAPPY WRITING AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"Failure is NOT an Option!"

Expect this road to get rough. It’s an inevitable part of this ride. And that’s perfectly ok so long as we stay focused on the prize and we position ourselves to be able to push through the hard times. The profession of being a writer is often a solitary, draining journey. And it’s a safe bet that we will all encounter pitfalls, potholes, and rocky roads before we get to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There will be writer’s block, time-management issues, resource management issues, technology issues, “life getting in the way” issues, and on and on and on…But…just because we expect and encounter rough seas, that doesn’t mean we have to settle for or be defeated by them. We must find a way to conquer everything that is placed in our path by any means necessary. Whatever it takes. Writer’s block? Unblock it. We’ll talk more about this in a later post. Time-management issues? Maybe it’s time to get a little more selfish? More to come on this in a later post as well. Tech issues? Resource issues? We can’t let these stop us either. If we can’t find a way to move the obstacle from out of our path, then we have to plot and navigate a new path and find a way around that obstacle. As writers it is important that we understand that the path we have chosen is not for everyone, but it has been walked millions of times over. So take heart in the fact that you are not the first one to encounter these obstacles and you won’t be the last. You also won’t be the first or last one to conquer these same obstacles. And remember, if this was easy, then it wouldn’t be fun, would it? So…stay locked in…persevere, and most of all… WRITE ON!

Love your craft and it will love you back!

There is an age-old adage that says “we reap what we sow”. And I believe that, just like in life, this is true for writers. Being a successful writer is about more than being blessed with a gift and a passion. As writers, we have to invest in our craft to get the most out of it in return. We get out what we put in, right? So, what does investing in our craft mean? It means taking the time to learn about the art of writing…everything from basic sentence structure, to plotting out and executing your novel’s outline, and bringing your characters to life. But, it also means repetition and muscle memory…writing as often as possible is not only beneficial to improving your craft from a creative standpoint, but also from a functional perspective as well. The more you write the better you should become….be it in handwriting or on a computer keyboard, just like your creative skillset as a writer should also improve. We can’t expect good, long term writing to be born out of just talent alone. The talent we have has to be nurtured and grown, accompanied by a strong work ethic, repetition and of course, sacrifice. Achieving greatness rarely comes without sacrifice. For most of us, the clock is always ticking, taunting us, making time is a constant challenge. There are never enough seconds, minutes, and hours in a day. So we must be willing to carve out the time to dedicate to our craft, even to the extent of being selfish at times and to the detriment of some of our other activities. We have to treat writing like a living and breathing entity, because that is exactly what writing is for us, right? Writing lives and moves within us. That’s why we are writers. We breathe it, eat it, and drink it. Remember, love your craft and it will love you back…So as we continue on our journey, we should all ask ourselves: how far are am I willing to go and what am I willing to sacrifice to become a good, no, a GREAT writer?

Push the Limits!

Happy New Year, Writers!

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie or TV show and thought to yourself, “If that was my story, I would’ve done it this way or I would have written it that way”? Do you find yourself wondering what the writer(s) were thinking when they scripted a story a certain way and how you may have done it differently?

When you are writing, do you ever feel self-conscious about your writing and who may read it? I mean to the point of where you actually tone down your writing or alter your words and end up diminishing your message?

I ask these questions because as writers, we are responsible for our words, but we are also responsible to our artistic voice and our craft (more on loving your craft in an upcoming post). There is a balance that must be achieved between these things as they sometimes conflict with one another. Personally, I believe that the balance should tilt in favor of our responsibility to our voice and the craft of writing.

In my experience, there is no way to please everyone with your writing. There will always be critics, there will always be those who take offense at your writing. While I am not an advocate of purposely provoking negative attention, I do encourage all writers to stay true to their voice so long as they are willing to deal with the effects of your writing.

As writers we are constantly trying to cover new ground by finding new stories to tell and new ways to tell those stories. In doing this, we must discover new ways to push the limits of our writing. As writers we should all be voracious readers, so with each story we read, our minds should also be working our own stories, trying to find new ways to make our writing stand-out from that of our contemporaries.

It is our goal to individualize our writing and establish our identities as writers. So, don’t be afraid of going where no writer has gone before. Don’t allow your writing to hide in a self-imposed “safe-zone” because you over-worry of who you will offend or who will lack understanding of your message.

When you look at your writing, ask yourself: is your writing cliché and boring or it is as original and daring as it can be? Does your writing read like another author’s or does it standout and reflect your own, unique voice? If your writing isn't everything it could be, what can you do to change that? The ability and encouragement to push forward and create new trends is ever-present in today’s world and this should fuel our motivations as we write. Without this motivation, we risk our writing being nothing more than mundane and unoriginal; nothing more than “faceless, nameless words in a crowd”.

Let's make we sure we all continue to push the limits…

Happy Writing!

 

 

Thinking Outside the Box – Reinvention to Create Originality!

It’s a well-known fact that almost every story, every theme has been written already…told and re-told…sold and re-sold…So, in addition to avoiding cliché and blatant plagiarism, writers are charged with thinking of new and original material or at least a new and original way of re-telling a story. Often times to accomplish this mission, we need to think outside of the box. Thinking outside of the box requires understanding the material that is already out here and a willingness to push beyond the boundaries of that established material.

So as you are tackling your novel, novella, short-story, or screenplay (etc, etc) and you find that your storyline sounds familiar; take the time to ask yourself: “How can I make this different, better? How can I make it more original?” Answering this question is what will help to ensure that you are creating an original masterpiece and not a copy of someone else’s work. This is a crucial step that we, as writers, should never skip or ignore. Don’t short-change yourself or your novel by taking the easy way out and regurgitating a book that has already been written.

Let's make sure we challenge ourselves and walk the hard road with the understanding that at the end of the journey we will reap the rewards of our completed projects being all the more better as a result of our investments.

More on pushing the limits in the next post! Until then, happy writing! 

 

Get Organized! Pt. II External Organization

"External Organization and Minimizing Your Distractions"

Hello fellow writers!

This is part two of our post on organization and why it so important to writers. In our previous post we began exploring proactive organization and why it is essential to having a successful writing session. So now that we’ve taken care of our “internal” organization, let’s address our “external” organization because the two go hand-in-hand and you can’t have one without the other.

So let’s start with our bodies. I suppose this part could technically be classified as either “internal” or “external” organization, but for this particular post, we’ll put it under “external” organization. Are your body and mind physically prepared to write? Did you get enough rest the night before? This is crucial because everything starts and ends with our mental and physical readiness. If you are too tired to think or sit in front of your computer screen then what’s the point of even starting this session? Also, are you hungry? Did you eat? Do you have a snack with you so that you can eat and still work? Also, are you thirsty? Do you have something to drink there with you? Do you have to use the restroom? Try to take care of nature’s call beforehand, if possible.

All of these things factor into completing the mission at hand. Imagine that you are just getting into your flow and then your eyelids get heavy because you aren’t properly rested? Or your stomach starts to growl and you have to get up and go and get something to eat? Or your bladder decided to interrupt you before you reach a good stopping point? True all of these things could happen in spite of your best efforts to prepare beforehand, but we can minimize these potential distractions by addressing them before we sit down to begin writing. Think about how much more productive we can be as writers by taking a few minutes to use the restroom and to make sure we have something to eat and drink at the ready and as a result, hopefully eliminating these needs from happening during our session.

Also, let’s talk about our CELL PHONES! If you are anything like me, your cell phone is probably something like your lifeline and probably the biggest distraction of all. How many times during the day do we pick up our phone without even thinking? Be it to surf the ‘net, check a social media account, play a game, or just fiddle around mindlessly. As great as cell phones and tablets are, they can be absolutely toxic to our productivity and rhythm during our writing sessions. Text messages, IMs, and status updates can derail your focus just as easily as a knock at the door and the ringing of the telephone.

What about family and friends and your environment? Have you placed yourself in an environment that offers you enough isolation? Do you have enough privacy? Do your family and friends understand your writing life enough to leave you alone for a while? Or can you at least ignore them long enough to have a productive writing session?

There are a million other distractions that we can list…we could go on and on, but the truth of the matter is that the biggest obstacle and distraction each of us will encounter is a lack of discipline. As writers, we MUST have the discipline to minimize distractions, overcome obstacles, and push-through the unexpected to achieve our goals. So let’s turn off or at least silence those cell phones, get our family, friends, and even pets to leave us be for a while, and let’s lock it in and get these words down on paper. Write your story like it’s the last chance you will ever have. Like the fate of mankind hinges on each of your words…write like your words will decide the battle between good and evil…

Ok, ok, ok…that’s a bit overboard…so how about this? Let’s all just WRITE HARD & WRITE WELL…  

Stay tuned for the next tip!

Get Organized! Part I – Internal Organization

Nothing can ruin a writer’s rhythm faster than being unorganized. It’s like waiting to the last minute to get dressed to go out. Now you’re running late and rushing around. So what do you do? Of course you forget to put on your deodorant. Now you’re out and about and can’t enjoy yourself or do what you set out to do because you’re worried about if you are funky or not. Not a good look at all. Totally ruins the moment, right? Writing and organization work the same way. Proper organization, both internally and externally, is essential to having a productive writing session as well as to our continued growth and success as writers. 
So what does it mean to be organized? Well it means being proactive in your approach. It means getting yourself and your resources together so that when you are getting started on a project, or picking up where you left off, you are in a position to be productive. Maximum productivity should always be the goal. 
See, not taking the time to organize yourself beforehand is a fast path to frustration and an unproductive writing experience (more on that in a later post!). Failing to invest in organization is the equivalent of failing to put gas in your car before taking a long drive. You are almost assured of getting stranded and pissed off somewhere along the way, right? 
Good news! This is a costly headache that can easily be avoided. In writing, each session should be approached as a mission. And missions require organization, tools, and tactics. Your session can be a short mission (short-story, paragraph, a few pages, etc.) or it can be an extended mission (novel, lengthy revisions, 1st or 2nd draft, etc…). Regardless of the specific mission parameters, there is a critical need to prepare yourself; to organize and ensure you have everything you need to successfully accomplish your mission.  
So how do we prepare ourselves internally? First, prepare ahead of time. Have an idea of what you will be working on before your next scheduled writing session. Which project, which scene, etc. Do you know where you last left off? It’s always best to take a proactive approach to organization by “preparing for the next time, THIS TIME” (more to come on this topic too!). That means that when you are finishing up a particular writing session, one of your last actions should be reaching a good stopping point, marking your place, and doing anything you can so it will be easier to get started the next time out. This includes: leaving yourself any notes you may need, cleaning up your workspace, and any other preparation you can think of before you end your session. 
Second, take the time to gather your thoughts BEFORE you dive in. Game-plan. Strategize. In the writing business, as with many other businesses, time is money (another hint about a later post!). So save yourself some time and heartache by estimating how much time you have for this particular writing session and setting some loose goals for this specific session based on your available time. How many words are your writing today? How many pages? Do you have a particular aspect of your project that you are tackling today?  It’s all about working “smarter, not harder” (more to come to this in the very near future too!). Utilize a “to-do” list if you need one. Again, the goal is to maximize your time and be an efficient and productive writer. 
And third, fix your mind on the task at hand. Focus. Lock-in. Block out everything not related to this writing session. This includes: bills to be paid, dishes to be washed, laundry to be laundered. Clear your mind and…let...it…go…These seemingly simple and mundane details will go a long way towards keeping you productive if tackled in a proactive manner (that “proactive” word again). 
Remember, this is YOUR time, so devote this time to you and your work. You owe to yourself as a writer to wear your writer’s hat and that hat only for this allotted amount of time. This is why we organize proactively, not reactively, so we have this time set aside beforehand and we don’t have to feel guilty about trying to break away or steal writing time on short notice. 
Ok, now that you have set this time aside and that time is here: LOCK IN, FOCUS, AND MAKE IT HAPPEN! Stay tuned for Part II of “Get Organized: External Organization”. 

Until then, HAPPY WRITING!

Reading is a MUST!

One of the core rules of being a writer is being an avid reader. If you are going to be a successful writer, you have to be a successful reader. That’s just how it works. The digestion of words is like fuel for a writer. As a writer, the rule of thumb is that you have to read and be a voracious reader at that. No matter how you slice it, reading is a fundamental part of any writer honing their craft. There is no way around this point and there is no substitute for this requirement. 
A writer not reading is the same as any athlete not watching or learning about their sport. Think of a football or basketball player who doesn’t watch game and practice film, who don’t watch actual games or study their playbook…really? How much would they be handicapping themselves on their job? How can they learn about their competition? How many new techniques are they probably missing out on? As a writer, going without reading is the same as going without food and water. You just can’t do it. The same way we have to find time to write, we must also find the time to read. Not only to find out what our colleagues are writing, but also to learn how those before us did what we are trying to do now. Reading helps us continue to expand our knowledge of this art form. 
A writer who reads more than just their own work shows a true respect for his craft as well as a willingness to expose him or herself to the many aspects of writing to include new writing styles, new words, and new techniques. Making the mistake of thinking that your particular writing style is the end all to be all is probably the last mistake you will ever make as a writer…because chances are, your career as a writer will be short-lived and fruitless. If you are going to do this thing called writing and do it well, then there is a necessity to immerse yourself completely in the “World of Words” that exists all around us. If you have downtime somewhere, have a book with you…a hard-copy that you carry with you or that you can pull up on your phone or tablet. If you have a long commute, listen to audio-books! That’s my personal favorite method of reading because of the large amount of time I spend driving. They are fantastic! Regardless of how you do it, just make sure you do it. Read like a staving man would devour good food. One truism in writing is: reading is one of the many ways you get better as a writer.

So, happy writing AND reading!

"Write What’s In Your Heart!"

One of the biggest challenges we will encounter as writers is being true to our own voices and writing what’s in our heart. It’s a matter of internal integrity. As a writer, you have been gifted with a voice that speaks to and for your heart. It’s your responsibility and duty as a writer to listen to this voice and then truthfully translate this voice for your readers. A writer has a limited opportunity with which to make his mark…to make a positive impression on readers… And you best believe that a savvy reader will be able to tell if a writer isn’t being true to their “writer’s voice”. How? Because it will show in their writing. A writer who isn’t writing what’s in his heart will come off as artificial, watered-down, and downright phony. That kind of writing is a waste of both the writer’s time and the reader’s time. And a reader’s time is just as precious as a writer’s. And once you have wasted a reader’s time, you will be hard pressed to regain their time, attention, and money ever again. Part of being true to yourself as a writer is having to write material that could be uncomfortable for you and your loved ones. This can be especially true for writers of non-fiction and autobiographical material. For writers it can be hard to block out thoughts like: “What will my family and friends think? What will my critics say? Will I offend anyone?” These are the thoughts that we have to find a way to ignore or at least minimize to a whisper and tuck away in a little corner of our minds. Regardless of the comfort level, if it is in your heart, you have to find a way to get it out and down on paper. At the end of the day, the loudest thought in your head on this subject should be “How can I best remain true to ME? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to remain faithful to that truth? And how can I live with myself as a writer if I don’t?”

“Believe It! The Importance of Establishing & Maintaining a Strong Belief in Yourself and Your Idea!”

As writers we all choose to embark upon a journey…Many of us begin this journey, but not all of us can finish it. So where does it all begin? Well, you guessed it…in your head and in your heart. That great idea for that great story all starts with YOU. The beautiful challenge of being a writer is taking that great idea for that great story and shaping it...molding it and then getting it down on paper so hopefully your readers will embrace and love it just as much as you do. So how do we begin? How do we take that first step, that giant leap to beginning this journey? The first and often most overlooked step is believing in yourself and your idea. That’s right. YOU have to believe in yourself and you have to believe in your idea, not a half-hearted belief, but a wholehearted, “with every fiber of your soul” type belief. This has to happen before anyone else will believe in you or your work. Now this doesn’t mean that doubt won’t creep in, because inevitably, it most certainly will…BUT that same doubt will also fade if you beat it back by renewing your belief in yourself. The power of this single step can never be underestimated. Establishing and maintaining a strong belief is essential, not only to the success of your idea, but to your sustained growth and success as a writer. You have to own not only your idea, but your calling as a writer, and like a plant or some other living thing, you have to nurture your calling, water it, and allow it to grow. Ask any writer who is dedicated to their craft and they will tell you that the starting point has to be a strong and unwavering belief in your skillset and your ideas. And what comes after that? Well that’s the easy part, right? It’s called “Walking the Walk”…All of this strong belief in yourself and your idea will be a total waste if you don’t follow it up with equally strong action!
There will be much more to come on “Walking the Walk” very soon! Be sure to stay locked in to SVPG’s “World of Words” for more tips and strategies on becoming the best writer possible!