Joe’s Post #98
The 5/5/5 writers meet yesterday to reconnect and review the first 10 pages of our novels. We met at Paula’s new place, an amazing retreat outside of Gibsons (on the sunshine coast.) It was good to reconnect, good to have writing to submit, good to be able to talk about our stories and get feedback.
Writing is kind of a lonely thing to do. For the most part, you live inside your head. Sometimes it’s a nice, warm place full of fluffy bunnies and a young Sandra Bullock. Sometimes it’s a nasty-ass mess clogged with fears, self-doubts and Gollum-voices.
So, here’s 10 steps to surviving being a writer
1) You are actually not alone. Connect with other writers. Connect at conferences. On-line. In a coffee shop. Create a critique group. A reading group. FB a friend. Use your words out loud. Talk to people. Every writer I’ve ever met or ever talked to has the same problems and doubts and challenges.
2) You are powerless over agents and editors and we will get rejected. Probably a lot. Accept this. They are not out to make your life hell. They actually don’t hate you. They’re simply people with a job, people making subjective decisions on what they like and they don’t like, and what they hope will sell.
3) Confess fears and failures to trusted friends or family or your pet. It’s ok to have fear. It’s ok to fail. It’s not ok to let either of those get in the way of being a writer. Confession eases the burden on the soul.
4) Continue to take a look at what you do well and what we don’t do well. Work on the latter. Improving is NEVER a bad thing. But also celebrate the good. Too often we focus only on the negative, that which we cannot do.
5) Admit to everyone that you are a writer, published or not. It’s ok. You’ll be surprised how often you’re not judged harshly (laughed at, sometimes, but then we shouldn’t be taking ourselves that seriously anyway.) By admitting to others, you’re also admitting to yourself that this is an important aspect of your life. Like donuts. Or Game of Thrones.
6) Understand there is a difference between hearing criticism about your writing and hearing criticism about being a writer. Ignore anyone who challenges the latter and listen to anyone who’s willing to help you become better at your craft.
7) Remove that which does not work. Also called, killing your darlings. Ok, so you wrote the world’s greatest sex scene, (I know I always do), but it doesn’t quite fit into your book for 10 year old girls about unicorns…so throw it out. Or keep it for that book you’re writing about Highlanders. Don’t be afraid to toss something away. Hey, if it’s not working, it’s not working. You can always write more words. It’s what writer’s do. It’s not a waste of time. It’s practice.
8) Read good writers. Don’t read a book that’ll drive you nuts cuz of all the grammatical errors or shallow characters or stunningly bad plots. By bathing in the words of well-written books, we soak up the craft.
9) Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. Oh, how I should have this tattooed on my body somewhere. No writing will ever be perfect. You can always move a comma or change a word here and there. But at some point, that quest for the perfect sentence, perfect paragraph, perfect chapter gets in the way of actually completing something.
10) Realize that it’s hard on the people around you. They make sacrifices, too. Someone put the kids to bed, someone cooked supper, someone went to work, someone hugged you when you got your 20th rejection. All so you could write. I mean, hey, that’s pretty cool, but that support and love needs to be acknowledged.
I know there are other survival tips. I would love to hear them.
So, all told, the meeting went well. I loved the feedback and my story will be that much better for it. Back to writing the book.