Thursday, August 11, 2011

10 Things I Believe About Writing

With all the uncertainty in our economy and in the publishing industry, in particular, I thought it might be important to talk about the passion we all share. It’s the basic thing that drives us with such conviction. Whether you read books or create them, novels can lift our spirits, tug at our imaginations, make us believe in the impossible, and take us for a journey into the past. (Talk about a cheap vacation!) They dole out justice when it feels as if there’s none and they transcend international borders, making this a small world after all.

If you’re an aspiring author, I believe it’s harder to get noticed by traditional publishers these days, yet with the digital boom in e-books, I feel there is even greater potential for getting discovered in a whole new way that still feeds our addiction. So take heart. Below are my thoughts about writing and what I’ve learned on my journey.

1. Tell YOUR story, your way. If you have enough drive, you will discover a unique story that you must tell. If you’re lucky, more stories will follow. Ideas for books can be a contagion worth embracing. Since you use your life’s experiences to filter through your characters, scenes and settings, only YOU can tell this story. How cool is that?!

2. Develop a tough skin. There will always be negative people telling you that you can’t write or reviewers who think you should quit. Screw ‘em. If it matters to you, you will learn from your mistakes and keep doing what’s important to you. And if anyone thinks a book is easy to write, let them try. In fact, please be our guest.

3. Be picky about your critique buddies. They can be invaluable if you find the right person or group, but too much of a good thing can dilute your voice. Whatever your story, this is your book. You must have a sense of who you are as a writer in order to push back on any advice that doesn’t fit you and only you can be the judge of that.

4. Find the time to write regularly. Even if it’s only a few hundred words or a page a day, set attainable goals but don’t beat yourself up if life gets in the way. Write because it matters to you.

5. Focus on the basics. Writing is the only thing you can control. Selling your project, promoting it, dealing with proposals, these things are not in your hands and can become a mental road block. When things get tough, your writing is the backbone of your passion.

6. Keep writing. While you have a proposal out, don’t wait by the phone or the mailbox. Get on to that next project and learn from your last one. Push the envelope of your craft, because you can. It’s great to find success in a trend, but why not BE the trend?

7. Trust your talent. As human beings, we all have self-doubt. Some hide it better than others. We all deal with it, but the voice and talent you have shown with each new project will follow you. Trust your ability to tell a story, but also hone the craft of writing to be the best author you can be.Your basic talent will sustain you.

8. Make the words bleed. If the story is worth telling, it’s usually because of the emotion you have to convey. Write what you fear, what you love, what you hate. Man has been telling stories since drawing on cave walls and within those stories has been the thrill of the hunt, the profound sorrow of death, or the joy of good fortune. Emotion connects us all, regardless of any language barrier.

9. Support other authors. This is your world. Our world. We’re not in competition with each other. We’re up against people who choose video games or movies over books. Make them see how powerful the written word can be, how it triggers the magic of our imaginations. Books are brain food. READ them! If you want to understand a genre, READ IT!

10. Find a way to deal with rejections. They will come, in one fashion or another, whether you’re published or not. Rejection comes in all forms. Create a ritual to dispel the negativity and move on, but if you don’t risk rejection, you’re not getting yourself out there enough. Find a happy balance and keep writing. Not many feel passion for what they do. Count yourself lucky to be one of us, a writer.

Since we all share the love of books and writing on Fringe Dweller, please share any words of wisdom that gets you through the tough times. What keeps you going?


  1. :) Amazing thoughts Jordan.

    I've always felt that if you're passionate about writing but not talented at it you just keep writing. I used to write in play-by-post RPGs where new members (which I was at one point too) would sometimes struggle just to eek out a paragraph but a year later were so improved you'd never know they were the same struggling newbie. It was their desire to write and do it well that allowed them the humility to admit they needed to learn and grow.

    Finding a group who share your passion and inspire you to improve your craft is one of the best bits of advice I've received. Sharing writing with non-writers/readers has rarely resulted in positive (or useful) feedback for me. Of course the advice to write for love and not for money makes sense too. lol Especially these days.

  2. It's funny. We go to school to learn things, but some folks think they can write a book without any instruction, like it should natural. What comes naturally might be the story telling ability, but all of us can learn craft and should. No author is above learning more.

    I've seen authors really improve because they are open to ideas and concepts and know what will work for them, without totally giving up on their own voice. These kinds of writers are like rough gems, suitable for polishing.

    A group of authors - and one author in particular, Sharon Sala - helped me get pubbed. I attribute my quick learning to the Romance Writers of America because they have resources particularly suited for the new author. Writing craft is writing craft. Even if you don't write romance per se, anyone can learn from a good storyteller. And I completely agree about sharing your passion with fellow authors. We are all a bit weird and feed of our own energy...and reflect it back. Thanks for your comment. Keep writing.

    Damn, blogger. I have to be anonymous on my own blog. (Insert eye roll here)


  3. Wonderful advice. And above all, just keep writing. Love it. Critique partners are a must. And it's so true you have to find the right fit. I pride myself on having thick skin, but I'm sure once the book hits Goodreads (for real) I'm going to have a lot to learn about my skin lol Thanks for these words of wisdom. You've been a true inspiration to me during this journey. I look forward to learning more!

  4. You are such a sweetie, Trish. I'm so glad we're online buddies. I don't look at reviews much these days, good or bad. They say if you read the good, you should also read the bad, but I don't agree. It's hard enough to do what we do without more naysayers. Screw 'em. Let them write their own books. LOL

    I haven't worked much with crit partners. I did early on, but don't have much time for them now. I just started attending a local group & it's fun, but not sure I'm getting anything from their format, except that I enjoy connecting with other writers. I'm hoping that once I get to know them--and they get to know me--I can offer more help. We'll see.

    Thanks for stopping by. Can't wait for your book to come out.