Author Ellen Mulholland nominated me and the Writeonsisters for this One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much, Ellen! Check out her Blog For New Writers for tips on developing characters, mapping outlines and making Scrivener your best pal.
Now, the rules of this blog hop state that I am to share seven things about myself, but Ellen revised that to share seven things about writing. Which, frankly, will still reveal things about me, but are more useful to our fellow writers and writer-curious readers. So here goes nothing…
7 Things About Writing
- Writing is a craft. Are writers born with talent? Maybe. But even gifted writers need to learn craft. The more you know about story structure, character development and prose rhythm, the better your writing will be. The best never stop learning and honing their craft.
- Writing takes practice. No matter how much you learn about writing craft, you need to practice a lot. It’s crazy how difficult transferring that knowledge to the page can be, but the more you write, the more natural it will become. Same as me learning backflips. I know how to jump, set, flip and land, but putting those things together, plus a dozen other adjustments (straight up, eyes open, tuck tighter, etc), is hard. I know how to do it, but actually doing it (consistently and skillfully) takes practice.
- Writing is a sacrifice. We all have full lives juggling work, family and friends. Where does writing fit in? Thing is, it doesn’t. That was a hard lesson for me – in order to find time to write, I had to give up something else. When I was in my twenties, my television agent gently suggested I party less and write more. Parties are part of the TV biz and there’s no doubt I got gigs because of the people I met at these events, but still, he had a point. I was a good writer, but I was never going to achieve greatness unless I buckled down and stayed home some nights to write. I’ve since cut my social engagements down significantly. There are lots of other sacrifices writers make, too many to list here, but if you want more tips check out these posts: Should You Quit Your Day Job? and 10 Tips to Survive the Starving Artist’s Lifestyle.
- Writing is critical. The best books have something to say, take a stab at the world and reveal humanity’s shortcomings. If I begin writing a book only to get bored with it, it’s because I don’t have a critical opinion on anything or anyone in the story. So what’s the point? There isn’t one! Stories need to be more than a play-by-play of events; stories should be a commentary on life. This doesn’t mean your novel has to address serious topics such as war or politics. You could explore love or friendship or daydreams. Just make sure you give the reader something to ponder.
- Writing requires self-doubt. I believe that the best writers doubt themselves because they’re always striving for perfection, yet nothing is ever perfect. Some may think this would drive us crazy, but I’ve embraced it. Self-doubt pushes me to improve. Without it, I’d languish in mediocrity. And if you ever want reassurance, read something by a super confident yet inexperienced aspiring writer. There’s a high probability that it will suck and you’ll feel grateful for the self-doubt that pushes you to try harder and write better.
- Writing needs heart. I hear your eyes rolling. Or maybe those are my eyes. Of course writing needs heart. Doesn’t every writer put their heart and soul into everything they do? Well, not always. There’s pressure to write to trend or write what will sell, and if those things aren’t the genre you love, your heart won’t be in it and that will show in your writing. So you have two options: write what you love, or learn to love that best-selling genre. Though by the time you fall for it, your first love might be what’s hot. No one can predict trends! So just to follow your heart.
- Writing is not luck. We’ve all heard people that say that writing a book that makes the best-sellers list is luck. As you can gather from my points above, I don’t believe that. Writing is craft, practice, sacrifice, critique, self-doubt and heart. Instead of picking apart successful books and finding their faults, look for what they did right. Don’t dismiss achievement as luck. Learn from success; don’t knock it.
There you have it! Now here are the Writeonsisters’ recommendations for lovely blogs to check out:
Fiona Quinn: Thrill Writing — If you’re writing a thriller (or even just a story where the hero finds himself in danger), this site is a wealth of information re: criminal intent, military facts, police procedure, self-defense, injuries, weapons, etc. There’s even a section called “Saving Your Heroine” which has lots of tips and tricks for getting your characters out of dangerous situations. Follow Fiona on Twitter @ThrillWritingFQ
Jungle Red Writers — “7 smart and sassy crime fiction writers dish on writing and life. It’s The View. With bodies.” Isn’t that the best tagline ever? Go read their blog! And follow them on Twitter @junglereds
Writers Rumpus — “Authors and Illustrators wild about kid lit!” Yes, I’m just going to let these blogs’ taglines speak for themselves because they’re so good! Follow them on Twitter @WritersRumpus
WritingChallenge.org — This is more community than blog, but the website gives you all the information you need to join the monthly writing challenge (500 words per day, or 1hr of editing). Follow these awesome ladies on Twitter (founder @kristyace, organizer @sarawhitford and this month’s challenge leader @kdarmatrading) and join using the hashtag #OctWritingChallenge.