Others have said: Writing takes passion.


Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. 

Rainer Maria Rilke

There are few things that I consider to be rules in writing. As far as I can see, any method goes, as long as one gets the work written. And that’s why I consider this to be a rule, because without it, I don’t think someone can finish a project.

My rule: One must have passion for writing.

I’m sure that a lot of non-writers will look at the rule and think that I’m stupid. After all, anyone can write anything down. At any moment. That’s probably why so few people understand the challenges involved in writing a story. So many people write (correspondence, statements, reports etc.) that they think that all writing is as easy. It isn’t.

On the contrary, it’s damnably hard more often than not. And NOTHING prepares you for the challenges of writing a novel, except for writing a novel. Because, while most people write more than 50k words in e-mails etc. in (say) a few months, it isn’t meant to be read as a single understandable story. There’s no need to develop a thrilling plot, there’s no need to create and get to know characters. There’s no need to stick with the exact same story for as long as it takes to finish it.

Writing is full of challenges, rejections and other obstacles. It takes sacrifice. Especially of time. Writing isn’t something to do in a few weeks without noticing. It’s something that needs to be prioritized.

So many people say that they want to write but don’t have time… Well, I can safely say that none of us writers have time. We make it. We put writing way up there on our lists of priorities, with family, God and breathing.

If it wasn’t for that commitment, no story would ever be finished.

Anyone disagree with me? Why or why not? How high is writing on your list of priorities? Do you find that a shift or writing up or down your priority list influences your writing?

Julie Flanders: My Beginning as a Writer

Hi all! Today I welcome Julie to MFB. Julie is a writer of one of the earliest blogs I’ve followed. From the first time I went there, I loved her blog (and her) for her passion both for writing and for animals.

Take it away, Julie.  

My PhotoThanks so much, Misha, for hosting me today. I was attracted to the theme of beginnings as I am a new writer myself, and I hope that sharing my own “beginning” may be an inspiration to others who find themselves in similar situations.

My writing beginning came about at an age when many people are getting serious about planning for retirement. I’d never worried much about age before, but that changed when I turned 40. At a time when society says we are supposed to be happily settled and basking in the rewards of middle-age, I found myself feeling lost and unfulfilled, and wondering what on earth I could do to change what looked like a dull and uninspiring future.

 I felt like I’d hit a low point, and I made the decision that I was going to make changes. I had no idea what those changes were going to be but, somehow, just making the decision felt like a step in the right direction.

I started reading all kinds of self-help books, but I quickly realized that I was simply reading as a means of putting off actually doing something. The reading was easy. The doing was the scary part.

Finally, I sat down and thought about what it was that I enjoyed doing. The answer came easily. From the time I was in school, the one thing I had always felt confident about, and had brought me pleasure, was writing. Whether writing papers for classes, writing letters, or writing academic articles as a librarian, I enjoyed all of it. In addition, since childhood I had loved constructing stories in my head about characters I saw on tv or read about in books. I never wrote them down; as I thought writing stories was something creative people did. And I wasn’t creative.

If there was one skill I had mastered in life, it was saying “I can’t,” or “I’m not.” Now that I had reached this low point, I thought I had nothing to lose by trying “I can” and “I am” on for size. If nothing else, I resolved to say “I’ll try.”

My opportunity to put my words into action came about in a completely unexpected way. I discovered a show called Dog Town, which was about dogs at Best Friends, an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. I fell in love with the place, and looked up their website. To my surprise, I found a listing for volunteer writers for their site. On a whim, I submitted an application.

Before too long, I had my first assignment, and wrote about people in Floridawho had come to the aid of starving and neglected cats. I was so nervous when I submitted my article that I was afraid to open the response from the editor. But I had no reason to be afraid, as the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive.

I felt buoyed in a way I never had while doing my “real” work. I wrote more articles, and continued to get wonderful feedback from both editors and readers alike. In addition, I was thrilled to be contributing to a cause I cared about, and helping both people I admired and animals I loved.

Suddenly, being a writer didn’t seem like something I couldn’t do any more. I went from “I’ll try” to “What if?” What if I branched out and wrote for other outlets? What if I could actually get paid for doing this?

“What if?” became “I will,” and that was my beginning. Now nearly two years later, I feel like I’ve finally found the passion and sense of fulfillment I’d been missing for so long. And even though I still have a long way to go to be able to support myself with writing, the small amount of money I have made has been worth its weight in gold. What’s more, the personal rewards have enriched my life in a way no amount of money ever could.

So my advice to would-be writers is simple. Begin. No matter your age or experience, there’s never a wrong time to get started. It may seem frightening, but take that first step. Volunteer, write a blog, or sit down and start that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

The step you take is up to you. The important thing is to begin.

Thanks so much for this inspiring post, Julie. What about you ladies and gents? When did you start writing?

Also, I need a hero/heroine to please step up to the plate. On 10 February, there is no one to do a GPF post. *gasp* It’s a terrible thing, because then everyone will be subjected to my ramblings on a Friday! Surely no one want that!

So please please please (with awesomesauce on top) contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com and let me know that you’ll do a post for me.

Have a great weekend!

Oh look! An interruption!

Today was one of those days. You know, where you start with the best of intentions to be productive, only to end up… well… not.

I even woke up an hour early today, but I swear there were time-gremlins in the house.

Of course, I did get other stuff done, like cleaning house, editing a business plan and checking up on financials. The last two were the main time-sucks, but hey, variety is good.

Today I got to give my left brain a stretch… or something like that.

In the mean time, I managed to do a bit of editing to Part 4 and send Part 3 off to a second round of crits. So all things considered, I didn’t do too badly edit-wise. On the other hand, it’s a crawl compared to what I’m used to.

BUT! I decided to cut down on my computer/editing time, as last week I clocked about 13-16 hour editing days. Which is sort of ridiculous, when one considers that I have more than five months left to finish Doorways. Point is, it isn’t healthy.

Maybe today is a good cue for me to kick back a little and finish Persuasion. Yes, I am only on my second Jane Austen book. Yes. Still. What can I say? My characters called open season on regency period ladies and gents… ;-P

What do you do to chill out when your editing/writing revs go into the red?

Key-Word Cavalry: Help writing my first book.

So… when I saw that phrase among my key phrases, I was stumped.

Where would I begin to explain how to finish someone’s first book? After all, everyone’s writing method is a little different.

But I will not be scared off by this. No. I’m made out of sterner stuff.

The first bit of advice I can give you is this:



Get THIS muse.
Source

Failing that, the best thing I can tell you to do is something that you might really get tired of hearing:

Keep writing.

If your story sucks and you find it isn’t worth your time, leave it alone and start something else. But don’t do that forever. At some point, something will be worth your time and when the going gets tough, you have to keep going.

All the way.

For as long as it takes.

Then… I strongly suggest that you play around until you find a method that works for you. Feel like plotting kills your story’s soul, try pantsing. Think that waiting for your muse sucks, try enticing her/him with cookies. Whatever works. As long as you write. Except in limited circumstances, procrastination is never a good idea.

But if you block, and writing through it doesn’t work, leave your project alone until the doldrums go away. If they don’t, go back to your writing desk and write nonsense until they do.

For the love of all that is holy, DON’T write to trends. Trends change before you can publish. And if you’re writing without passion, you won’t produce anything good enough to change the trends back again.

Finally: Never be afraid to explore an idea, even if you think it’s small or stupid. Because that idea might just be the right one that stirs enough passion for you to want to stick through the story.

What does it take for you to finish your story?



Why I write YA.

As the badge to the left shows, I’ve signed up to do S.A. Larsen’s Young Adult Teen Tuesday.

Although I won’t be doing this every week, Tuesdays will be when I discuss all things YA related. Which of course is a bit like cheating for me, because I mainly write YA.

But then, I’ve always been a fan of leeway. 😉

So… there are more than a few things that I’m wondering about YA, so I’ll probably get around to it eventually, but for today, I think the Why I Write post is a good idea.

Why do I write YA? It’s actually a question that I have asked more than once since I started Doorways. See… when I saw my one main character and he got me considering the idea, I thought I’d write a modern Chronicles of Narnia.

Within a few days though, I realized my mistake. See… the character who inspired me is… well… Not standard hero material. Nor, for that matter, is he standard brooding hottie material.

Oh no, don’t get me wrong. He broods. He’s hot. He’s heroic. When he wants to be. Which is interesting because more often than not, he doesn’t give a…

Also… he grew up in a pretty much medieval world. So… eighteen is plenty old to do certain things. Certain things that puts Doorways in a very interesting situation where it’s YA, but for older audiences. Doorways itself isn’t that bad, but the rest of the series will definitely push limits of what a lot of people consider to be “rules”.

But you know what? I decided to be brave and write it anyway. Because it’s a damn good story. Even if I say so myself. And the characters are awesome. And they happen to be teenagers.

So, I guess I could post about how I want to influence young minds (uh… optimistic), or how I love the possibilities of coming of age (I do), or how it’s an interesting market to be in (don’t care). Instead, I’d say I write YA because my biggest story idea is YA. And because my inspiring character holds my mind hostage and only characters with guns and wicked cool super powers survive in my thoughts with him guarding them. Sounds like I’m complaining, but then, there are worse things than having a hot guy cruising around in my imaginary world. Much much worse things.

Do you write YA? Why or why not?

Others have said: Don’t sweat it. You can fix it later.

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the 1st time unlike, say, brain surgery.

Robert Cormier

I’ve been creating stories since before I could write. At first I play-acted everything, but as I grew older, I started finding ways to put my thoughts onto a piece of paper.

The first time I tried to write something was a movie script that I started aged (about) eleven. By the time I was thirteen, I saw myself as seriously writing. I had started my first novel then.

One would think that I’d have a ton of finished manuscripts collecting dust beneath my bed. Terrible ones. Ones that make me cringe to think of. Ones that I aim at when I kick my shoes off.

But no. In the eight years from starting to write to Doorways, I didn’t finish a single manuscript. Not one. Now, this happened for a variety of reasons (that I posted about VERY early along when I started blogging), but as I came to the point of deciding that Doorways was to be the one that I finished, I decided to do some introspection.

What really stopped me from finishing before? Sure, the fact that my mother forgot to ask me before ripping the motherboard out of my writing computer (it happened) or the destroyed stiffy disk that contained the only copy of my draft (yes. stiffy. yes. It happened. After I rewrote the mother board ms), or the fact that I willingly burned a ms and everything connected to it (yes. Did that two years before I started the blog) had something to do with it.

But that wasn’t what stopped me. I mean, yes those put some significant delays on my writing. But eight years worth? Really?

The truth was no. The only person that held me back was me. See, although I don’t have a thing for rules, I was obsessed with getting everything I wrote up to my standards. Immediately.

So instead of worrying about getting done, I got mired in the early chapters of my WiPs, tinkering with every word I just wrote until it was exactly right.

In other words, I’d taken the soul out of what I’d written before it got a chance to settle into what it’s supposed to be.

When I realized what had happened, I’d decided to do a bit of a mind-shift. I didn’t have to get everything right immediately. In fact, there’s something to be said for working all the way through first before going back to measure what should be changed and what should stay the same.

Which is why I drafted Doorways by hand. If it’s written in pen, it can’t be change until I’m ready to go back to change it. And that is probably one reason why I got so far with it at all.

I gave Doorways a chance to prove to me that it was worth my time, instead of killing it before it was really born.

So what about you? Do you edit as you write or do you finish your drafts first?

Use these 5 Rock Star Headline Ideas when you begin your Blog

The average reader only gets past the headline of an article or blog post 20% of the time. Mediocre headlines doom a blog to failure, even when coupled with amazing content. However, there are ways to change that! These tips will help you write blog titles that will get people to read your posts. 

The most important thing when it comes to blog headlines is to get the reader’s attention. Titles like these will are interesting, and compel people to find out what important tidbits are included. 

·         9 Best Practices for Bloggers

·         Do More Writing in Less Time

·         Secrets to Making Fistfuls of Cash

·         Instant Fixes for Boring Blog Posts

Can you see how these headlines offer something of value to a blogger, and would compel them to read the post? When people see what’s in it for them (WIIFM) they stop and take notice. Your job then, as a writer, is to tell them why they MUST read your post.

Go BOLD!

Contradict something that most people believe to be true. Readers will be curious to read the post and find out why you would say something that is the polar opposite of common knowledge.

·         You Do Not Want to Vacation in Florida  

·         Blogging Today: Why Content Writing is Dead

·         Big Banks say that Main Street Caused the Recession

Would you be interested in reading those posts and finding out what they had to say? I sure would.

Bare your soul:

By humanizing yourself with a confession or telling a secret, you make yourself more likable and friendly. Readers will feel they are among friends, and will respond accordingly, with honest feedback and comments. 

·         I have a Confession to Make; Writing does NOT Come Easy to Me

·         Three Things Even Top Bloggers Struggle With

·         Psst! Inside Secrets to Drive Massive Traffic to Your Blog

 

Question….Everything?

People discuss everything on social media these days, from how to discipline children to helping their husband with erectile dysfunction. Pay attention to main themes people are talking about, and capitalize on it.

·         Does Self-Publishing make it More Difficult for Writers?

·         What will happen if SOPA or PIPA pass in Washington?

·         Is Blogging and Social Media Participation Optional for Companies Today?

 

Make a Promise

Letting your readers know that you will answer a tough problem or question for them in your post will draw them in. Leave a little mystery, and keep them guessing.

·         I have Got Some Awesome Ideas…

·         2012 is going to be the Best Year Ever!

·         Why only 10% of Blogs are Successful

 

Make them Take Sides

Point out differences without taking sides yourself, and just wait for the discussion that ensues.

·         Republican Tax Cuts; Extra Cash for their Bank Accounts or Job Creation Tool?

·         “RoundUp” Posts: Valuable Information for Your Readers, or Lazy Way to Get out of Writing?

·         Traditional vs. Self Publishing: Which Way is Best?

 

Though this is not an exhaustive list of how to build the best titles, I think it will give you a few ideas of your own. What is the best blog title you ever wrote? How did it affect the number of comments your post got? Did it create any discussion on your blog?

 

Denise Gabbard is a Writer and Blogger. She writes the blog Write and Get Paid, and is currently completing her book “How to Write and Get Paid.” With a focus on internet and digital media, it will be a comprehensive manual for new and experienced writers.

Thanks so much, Denise! I’m definitely going to use your pointers for my headlines from now on.

I still have many GPF slots open, so please check out this post for details on how to book one.

Have a great weekend!