Keep Going! This Is Why You Write…

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Writing is work! Octavia Butler said that sometimes writers would rather clean toilets than write.

She’s right.

There will be times when sitting at a computer, or pens out lusting for your hand to seduce the pages of blank paper under them–and you will think, “Why am I doing this?” Every writer I know has experienced this. It’s beyond self-doubt. It’s more dangerous than that–it’s apathy.

Apathy is a thief.

It steals all creative joy. It steals all promise that ambition and talent will bring. It lies and tells us that no one will read our novels, our poems or do our workshops. It lies to us because if apathy knows how talented you are—it would be unemployed. It would have nothing to say, nothing to offer, noting to give. It has nothing else to tell you.

In deciding to submit your work, in being a writer either indie or through an agent, you have to know two things.

One:

Not everyone is going to like  your stuff. This is crucial.

Two:

There are people that will like your stuff.

 

 

Some of the most hurtful criticism I have heard gotten was from someone close to me whom called what I did my ‘writing crap,’ Another was when I was writing for another blog, and they changed almost everything that I wrote. Here recently, I was told that my sentences were too cluttered, and my mechanics just sucked. However, I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop writing. I didn’t find sycophants. I took the criticism, weighed it for relevance, and kept it moving.

 

Writing is a constant balance. A constant need to swim upstream and know you can. That is the crazy part—you can do it. In the face of opposition and evil editors and low readership to blogs or mailing lists, you can do it. The question I need to ask you is, do you want to?

 

[image from Google]

 

Fear Of The Red Pen: The Fear Of Submission (Part II)

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One thing that writers hate is to have their work be seen as horrible. No writer wants to be seen as not being a writer. There is something to be said for the amount of work it take to create something, submit something, and have someone tell you what you worked on is equivalent to snotty Kleenex and should be treated as such.

As writer, I can tell you how hard it is to break out of this cycle of self-doubt and crippling creative anxiety over something your wrote.

As an indie author, I can tell you what it’s like to write and have no one want to read it.

As an editor, one of my jobs is to tell you what I think of your work. And how it can improve. As an editor, I get no joy out of telling another writer their work isn’t good or good enough.

Read:  THERE IS NO NEED TO BE MEAN TO THE PEOPLE WHOM SUBMIT THEIR WORK TO YOU.

There is no need to tell people that don’t have the same talent for writing as you do how horrible they are at it. There is no need to eviscerate another writer.

Just like every writer isn’t a writer, not every editor should be an editor. You have to be able to be a iron fist in a silk glove. You have to be able to do as I call salvage and save. You salavage the writer, this is tantamount. You save whatever part of the work you can. Even if that means you have to tell them what is not good–or unsalvageable. You have to be able to tell what is wrong with a work and how to make it better!

Think of writing like being a martial artist of sorts. You work on the basics. You work on the mechanics. With every critique or criticism, let your skin get thick. Let the chatter fall away until you become deaf to it. You work at your craft. You work it. You hone your voice–this talent, this gift is yours. The strength of it is not determined by a red pen—or a rejection letter.

Write. And keep writing.

 

[Image from Google]

Submit Or Not To Submit: Do You Dare?

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There is something to be said about writing, and then letting other people read that same writing.  This brings me to the subject of submitting your work.

Hold on. Let me get the smelling salts.

Get off the floor.

Remember, I’m hear to help.

Writing is a great hobby, and is also a competitive sport. The idea of sending off a thought to someone else to get validation (or publication) is horrifying. It’s horrifying thinking someone can read what you have researched, conjured and written–and with a blink call it nothing.

There is so much that goes into writing that submission seems like that last thing on your mind. It seems the scariest thing is to let someone else read your work! However, let me help you again.

Two things:

1.) Writing is a craft, art and a profession.

2.) On some level, all writing is subjective.

 

This means there is an  audience for your work, and you have to find it. And if there is n audience, they deserve to read it. They deserve to read your genius, your suspicions and your recorded joys. Someone wants to see it. What you must confront is why you won’t let anyone to read what you’ve created.

There are things you may be working on that no one may ever see. There may be things you are working on where you may just need the confidence to allow it to be seen. Writers can be some of the biggest control freaks on the planet! We want everything to be perfect. From grammar. To syntax. To content. Asking a writer to submit something?

Man. From writer to writer? It’s hard.

It’s hard enough to be a writer. Having a writer give glimpses to their work? Monumental. It doesn’t make you less of a writer if you don’t submit your work. It doesn’t make you an elitist as a writer to have your work submitted and published!

There is no grand moral. No shaming. No swift kick in your writer’s butt.  I leave you with encouragement. Keep writing, dear ones. The first audience is you, the next is the world.

 

[image from Google]

 

 

Trying To Break The Fourth Wall

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The trippy thing about writing is when you get sucked into you own worlds.

 

Has this happened to you? I know it has, at least once. In the creating of a story, mastering of a world, you will be sucked in. That’s how you know it’s good. This is the thing you do with a good book–when you have to orient yourself to where you are or even when you are.

This is the goal. This is the high. This is why we write.

This is the fourth wall.

 

Being able to bring the readers into something you have created is beyond amazing. It is a testimony to power, skill and crafting of your story. Margaret Atwood describes it this way in her MasterClass. She says the goal of writing any story is to keep the attention of the reader. Then she gives this saged wisdom. She reminds her pupils that you want to keep the reader enthralled, engaged in a story–‘even though you both know its fiction.’

This is breaking the wall. This is what we all strive for. To be lost in a world you have created…and leave the door open for other people to follow behind you…even when they don’t know what happens.

 

 

[image from Fight Club]

When The Dam Won’t Break

There is nothing more stressful to see the words in your head and can’t get them to your hands. Don’t confuse this with writer’s block. This is what I call The Hitch.

The Hitch differs from Writer’s Block in one way:  accessibility.

Writer’s Block is the drought; there is a drought. There are no words.

The Hitch is when there are words, and somehow, someway, there are none.

Think of it in the case or form of the above image. The water is representative of the writing talent, the mastery of words as it were. Sometimes in all our rush to create, we don’t take time to listen to what the waters of talent are saying. We don’t pay attention to whether this is a drought or a hitch.

The Hitches I fear more than Writer’s Block. Why? You can almost explain it or explain it away if necessary. The Hitches are assassins. They rob you of cohesion to thought, creative insight and mock you when you try push through.

The Hitches are imps of the creative process.

In including this quote from Stephen King, it is your inoculation against The Hitch. It acknowledges, and identifies yourself as you are:  a writer. A slayer of words and pages. You have worlds to create and people to direct! You must break the dam!

This is done by confronting whatever it may be that has stopped you from going forward. This can be defined by three topics:

  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Exposure

 

Fear. Margaret Atwood says fear comes to writers because we indeed are afraid of something. What are you scared of? The worst thing that could happen is either people not read what you wrote, or they read everything you wrote.

 

Doubt. This rears its ugly head when you think what you  are creating isn’t good enough, or not worth your time because ‘someone else wrote it.’ This may be true, but you haven’t done it! You haven’t created it. The people in your head haven’t lived it! Let the people in your head out!

 

 

Exposure. There are things, stories, appetites that writers roll around which may be alien to what you may be used to writing. That linguistic trepidation  is normal. The choice then becomes–will you chase after the thoughts? Will you indulge the strength of your imagination? I’ll give you a hint:  YES. This is the beauty of a free write and other writing tools in your tool kit.  You can write down what is in your head–and never show it to another living person. Then, when you are ready, you can take that file or those pages and make an entire world. Which people will read.

 

Your blank pages are waiting on you. Don’t keep them waiting long.

 

 

[images from Google; screenshot from YouTube Channel, BioGraphics]

Remember The Why

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I won’t lie to you…writing is hard.

Writing can make you question your sanity, any talent and your grasp of any language!

However, I implore you to remember why you do what you do, and how well you do it. This is what I call, ‘The Why’.

Among all the noise, distractions and deterrents on the planet, only you know why it is you do what you do. Only you know why you write. Remember that, above all else, no matter how great or small the project, remember The Why. Moreover, remember your why.

The Why is powered by a great many things, from a great many resources. Remember what it is that has pushed to you to create. What drives you to language? What inspires you? What have you started which you are consumed or driven to finish?

Only you can determine this.

Nikki Giovanni says you know you’re a writer because you keep writing. Toni Morrison said the reason she wrote, and finished, The Bluest Eye was because she wanted to read it. Ernest Hemingway said to write is pretty easy:  just sit at a typewriter and bleed.

If you have not found The Why or Your Why, don’t fret. You have time. This concept is two-fold:

 

The Why

  • This is the overall motivation for any writer. This is the drive, the force, the fuel that allow us to create, and conquer realms of creativity. This is the force which compels you to declare you are a writer.

 

Your Why

  • This is or can be any specific motivation for a project or story. This can have varying degrees and depth. This may be the motivation to finish a work, a poem or a even a novel.

 

The Why or Your Why are portions of your tool kits also! Don’t be afraid to examine them. Don’t be afraid to examine the motivation of why it is you do what you do as you do.

Be confident. The first reader of every work is you–The Why can only, will only help you achieve and do better.

 

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, Shekinah Glory Writing Services

 

[Image from Google]

Silent Murder: Why You Must Kill Your Darlings

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In Stephen King’s book, On Writing*, he makes mention of a secret tool of writing a novel–the tool was actually given by his wife, Tabitha. I believe that he was writing  his book Desperation. With Tabitha being his sounding board and beta reader, she made mention of a part of the story she wasn’t really concerned about because it took away from the main story. Stephen King calls this, ‘murder your darlings.’

The darling of a story is something of a side quest. The darling is something of the story that you add, it could be history, backstory or even perspective, which can almost take over a story–leading your reader down a path the original story was never supposed to have.

This happens often, more often than you may believe! However, as a writer, you must be ruthless when it comes to telling your story. It is you who guides the reader down the path you want them on. The darling of the story, unless you want to make this an object of a story later, you will have to kill–for the sake of the story.

In killing this darling, remember these keys:

  • Keep in mind the story you are writing (Genre, especially)
  • Plot (What is going on and where is everyone going?)
  • Conclusion (Where are we ending up?)

Remember, you are in control of the written worlds you create. In crafting a story, you must understand that it is you whom dictates the sway of your reader. Tell us where to go, what to do and where to go next. If all else fails, write a trilogy.

Happy writing!

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, Shekinah Glory Writing Services

*-On Writing is a book written by Stephen King in 1999. I rarely throw my entire weight behind a book, but this is one of those books. As a writer, this book is a reference material in my career, and an anchor as I continue writing. In writing, it is often lonely and frustrating–this book is a beautiful reminder of that; as well as the awesomeness being a writer holds.

[image from Google/Pintrest]

The Hard Work

There is a saying among writers when it comes to first drafts: they are all crap. No matter how gifted the writer, all first drafts are crap.

Don’t debate me, just listen.

However, I love what Nora Roberts says about blank pages and drafts:

“You can’t edit an empty page.”

This is from the same Nora Roberts who has written 200 books. Two. Hundred. That’s a level of prolific that is unmatched. But it’s true–no one can read the stories in your head, dear one.

The advice I can give for writing first drafts is the same as was told to me: write. No matter how it looks or sounds, get it out of you. Write it down. The way you become a better writer, to develop the muscles they make writers prolific only come by writing!

Write! Write! Write!

The thing that helps me to try and be prolific is to give myself a deadline. That helps to focus research, and allows time to gather thoughts (or confidence) to write. The major hitch to keeping you from writing is more often than not is confidence or time.

Writers are and can be master procrastinators especially when we don’t think we can or should try to write. Fight the urge to ignore the need to write.

Fight it!

The benefit of doing the hard work is the sweeter part of adding to your draft, watching the story expand and change. Don’t allow the fear of how something will sound or look to stop the joy from coming.

Get to work.

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, SG Writing Services

[Image from Google]

When The Words Stop Coming

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There was a three year span by which I did not, could not write. Aside from childbirth, it was a the scariest thing I have encountered. The words just wouldn’t come. The magic was gone, the words where gone, my talent was gone. I was inconsolable! It was only when I came out of that space, when I could really talk about it with some knowledge.

Being a writer, and unable to write–was maddening. It was infuriating. There was, there is a rage that rose up in me like hellfire–quick and hot. On the end of a horrible breakup, it was just one more thing to add to the list of things he took (or I allowed him to take) from me.

In that three year dessert, nothing happened. I pressed the gift, I teased at it, I cried at the lost of it. I had not wanted something so badly to return to me. Writing, being a writer was my identity, it was something that I considered my own. In this desert, in this Ezekiel space, I couldn’t say the dry bones were or could live, because I didn’t know how I could live! In the lives of writers, words are our blood–it’s a part of who I am.

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There were moments when I saw peeks of the talent I once had. My mother had and would ask me to write or create certain pieces for work, family or friends, but it was nothing like the creative power I knew that I housed. Nothing is more offensive or rage-inducing to writers. I was beyond hurt–worse than the heartbreak that induced the loss of talent in the first place.

I remember I didn’t even journal because I didn’t see the point. I didn’t see the point! I was out of words. I didn’t have the stamina to make up worlds of my own, and I surely didn’t want to record the foolish my own world. However, when people know you can write, they don’t know the struggle you encounter while maintaining that gift–that talent. In their blissful ignorance, they pull on your gift–because they need it.

Writer’s block is real, beloveds. That desert awaits all those whom are writers and authors. It is unavoidable, and only preventable on certain levels. But it is not insurmountable! However, to overcome it is a process. It is always a process. There are whole website dedicated to overcoming writer’s block, and one of the most reputable is Writer’s Digest . Like most craftsmen, whom are serious about what they build, invest in their tools. They build a tool box that will be able handle the potential issues in what is being built. Being a writer is no different.

Build your tool kit.

 

The kit needs to be able to help you with develop your talent, and to help with the eventuality of writer’s block. Tool boxes are supposed to be filled with things you will use, and will be able to use in order to refer. It is better to be proactive, than reactive in these cases. Don’t be caught in the desert, and your canteen is empty because you never took time to fill it when the streams where nearby. The desert is coming–don’t be caught thirsty.

 

Jennifer P. Harris

Editor/Founder-Shekinah Glory Writing Services

In The Beginning

There is an anxiety that will always come when you begin a new writing project. There is this trepidation that will come as you begin to hatch the plan to put thought to word to screen or paper.

Don’t fear these moments of creativity, embrace them. If you still have anxiety over putting thought to word to paper, try these steps:

1.) Don’t rush the idea. There are certain stories and concepts you don’t need to jump head first into. Researching helps with this type of anxiety about a topic you desire to write about. Certain topics require you have a working knowledge of the topic you desire to write about, or the story you desire to write.

2.)  Utilize Social Media. In the world of becoming a writer, deciding to write, there can be this creative loneliness where you feel no one is or could be experiencing the same thing you are.  Join a writer’s group or a writing group. Find one of your favorite writers on Facebook or Twitter and follow them. On Twitter, I follow the amazing Tananarive Due and on Facebook I am one of ‘the people of the page’ for Anne Rice. Sometimes they will even answer questions you as a fan/potential writer even pose! The writers’ groups are places of comfort and idea exchange. Tips are exchanged and networking happens. Use all your resources available to you.

3.) Don’t Be Scared To Make It Up. I got this piece of advice from Tananarive Due (again, see step #2!)! I asked her about creating a backstory for a story, and the backstory not found in research. She told me if there a myth that I needed, to literally make it up! When she said this to me, I was amazed! I hadn’t thought about what it would mean to make up what I needed–when my job as a writer is to make things up! This is one of the reasons as a writer is it is imperative you be an avid reader, and be comfortable in being a better reader than you are a writer.

4.) Break The Boxes Open. There are so many things you as a writer can do, so many stories to write, don’t be afraid if you have an idea to cross over. If you do horror, and have an idea for a romance novel? Write it! If you do romance, and have an idea for a sci-fi saga? Write it! Don’t be afraid to stretch out! It’s your talent, your time, your imagination. Use it!

5.)Embrace The Process! Writing is hard. Let no one tell you different. It can feel impossible, and for the intimidation of creation, you can freeze! Don’t fear the process! Free write the idea, see how it sounds, and work from idea to free write to draft. You can do it. If you get stuck, and you think you need to start over? Start over. The only rules in writing are the ones you create. There is a roux to it which is in order to be a writer:  you gotta write. You. Have. To. Write.

Be encouraged, dear one. You can do it. So do it.

 

Jennifer P. Harris

Editor/Founder-Shekinah Glory Writing Services