Writer’s Wisdom 50

 Tracing your path to success

What is a successful writer?  How do your define your own success as a writer?  Do you have to compare yourself to other writers?  Do you measure your success against Best-selling authors?  These questions will make you ponder about what you truly think of yourself as a writer.  Sometimes, it is a subject that we avoid, and a mirror that we cover because we don’t want to see our own reflection.

The measure of success is different for everyone.  It could be as simple as going throughout the day and being able to write a chapter or a few pages of that novel that you have inside – you did it!  Or it could be the first contract that you land as a freelance writer – your first paid project.  Or maybe, your book is getting published!

Whatever it is for you, success doesn’t happen without effort.  Best selling author Dan Brown sits to write in his office at 4:00 am.  In an interview with Borders, he said that he sits down to write “the best book he can possibly write, whether it is for one reader or millions.”  That is the attitude with which we should approach our writing. 

Mapping our success as writers, should include more than projects, and future goals, it should include the now, the approach and effort that we put every day.  Is the material that we put out there in writing sites for everyone to see, free of errors (to the best of our ability)?  Have I revealed too much from my private life and affairs?  Will it hurt me in the future or will it help my writing?  Every step that you take as a writer, will either help or hinder your future development. 

So, let’s approach our craft with a similar attitude to how Dan Brown approaches his writing – repeat with me:  “whether it is for one reader or millions, I will produce the best work I am capable of at this moment.”

Happy Writing!

Writer’s Wisdom 42

Getting to know them

Getting to know who?  Your characters.  Your characters are more than names and descriptions on a page.  They move in with you for a while, and they have lives, feelings and situations.  You write them, but sometimes, they will surprise you and write themselves.

In an interview with Borders, best-selling author Linda Howard (Ice) said that “it is important to  get to know these people and what happens to them.”  She added that she pays attention to “whoever shows up in her imagination and starts talking.”  She expressed that she doesn’t plan anything – she writes “whatever story appeals to her at whatever moment.”

This is because she is very attuned to her characters and what they are saying and doing, and to the ones that have a small voice, but have not pop in yet.  While writing your book or novel, keep your ears and mind open to what your second family has to say.  It will only help you with your writing.  Care about your characters and they will take care of you.

Writer’s Wisdom 39

Learning from the best

As aspiring authors it is important to learn as much as we can about the craft.  There are many books about writing, genres, and writing tips.  The best source is to learn from best-selling authors who have walked the path.  With the technology these days, this is easy to do.  There are many interviews of best-selling authors in You tube and in book stores.  These interviews are full of great real tips and ideas from these authors.

Another way is to visit their websites, which are full of insights to the craft and many interesting and useful tips.  Many authors have frequently asked questions sections on their sites, which are a big help for an aspiring writer.  Many have written books on the subject, according to their own writing experience and journey.  A book that I recommend is:  How I write, by Janet Evanovich.  It is full of very important and useful information – worth every penny.

If you are serious about your writing, start learning from the best.  Take it a step further and not only read their books, but visit their sites and listen to interviews; or if you have the opportunity, go to their book signings.

Writer’s Wisdom 36

“Own your emotions.”

Our writing gets permeated by our feelings and emotions, no matter how impartial we attempt to be while writing a piece.  It is important to take a look at our emotions when we are writing, to see if we are not sabotaging our writing. 

Author Sue Grafton believes in writing down her emotions so she does not sabotage her work – as told in a Borders interview.  When writing a novel, she keeps a journal where she writes important details about the novel, and also about her feelings at the time.  She keeps her emotions in place with this technique. 

Our moods can affect our writing, and a way to release any negative moods is by keeping a writing  journal.  By releasing those bottled up feelings, you free your creative energy, and allow it to flow.  Own your emotions, and your Muse will love you for it!

Writer’s Wisdom 24

How do you write?

Best selling author Nora Roberts shared her method to writing in an interview with Borders.

Quote:  “Well, first: There ain’t no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time.” 

She believes that writing is hard work; she works really hard to make her writing “as fluid as possible, as readable and entertaining as possible.”  She writes the first draft, without editing, because according to her, she doesn’t know yet what will happen next.  Once she has down her story, she starts editing, page by page, chapter by chapter.  She pays attention to how it sounds, mistakes, emotion, and adds anything that she needs to.  Once she’s done, she goes back one more time and pays attention to language, rhythm, and that all loose ends are tied.  She makes sure that she has “been true to the story.” 

This is how magic happens to best selling author Nora Roberts.  But there is a method to her magic.  

Today my question to you is:  Are you following your own magic?   

Writer’s Wisdom 15

“Outlines”

To outline or not to outline; that seems to be the question today.  To outline before you start writing can definitely be helpful; if anything, it keeps you organized.  However, outline is a matter of taste and type of personality, and of “what works for you.”

Some authors, like John Grisham, make an extensive outline, before writing.  He needs his outline (as told in an interview with Borders).  His style is very disciplined and structured.  He writes from 6-12 M, mostly 5-8+ pages a day. For others, outlines are shorter, or created along the way.

The important thing here is that outlines, extensive or short, are a good way to keep your thoughts organized, and helps in making the best of your writing time.  Outlines are not permanent, they are just a guide to move you right along, but can change at any time.  The story is alive, and sometimes it takes a path on its own.