…I’m delighted to run a five-days consecutive series of posts from my terrific pal, Author, Susan Toy, for every author to enjoy and prob’ly learn lots from… here’s PART ONE :
10 Ways to Kill Your Writing
This 5-part article is from a talk I gave at the Calgary Public Library Writers’ Weekend Feb. 4, 2012.
Thanks to all of you for reading this series that is very kindly being hosted by the ONE, the ONLY, SEUMAS GALLACHER!
Since you’re taking time to read this series, and if you promise to stick with me right to the end, you will receive a very special gift, because I’ve been asked to talk about . . . 10 Ways to Kill Your Writing . . . and for today only, your very special gift includes 3 bonus ways!
First watch this video . . . Inside the Writer’s Mind
- Take yourself and your writing too seriously
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be serious about writing. If it’s more than a hobby for you, and you hope to eventually publish (which is why you are reading this, after all) then you should definitely be serious about your craft.
But you shouldn’t be obsessive about the process and about becoming a published writer.
That was me at one time, when I first began writing. I sent out manuscripts long before they were ready, pestered friends to read every new piece I wrote, kept an accurate count of the number of rejections I’d received – as though they were badges, testaments of how much I was suffering for the sake of my art, and I constantly complained to any sympathetic ear I could find, wondering when it would happen for me.
Then I suddenly let go. I stopped sending out those half-baked manuscripts, took writing classes, found editors to work with, stopped obsessing about getting published, and began enjoying the process of writing and telling a story.
Miraculously, my friends began speaking to me again, I was receiving encouragement from my instructors, editors, and fellow writers that my writing WOULD eventually be published. I entered and won a couple of contests and those stories were both published in a lit mag, giving me two publishing credits – BINGO! And, without realizing that all of this was happening, I had five novel manuscripts (one now published), three novellas (one published), one play, about fifteen short stories, and I had even begun writing poetry – not very good poetry, mind you, but a form of writing I hadn’t believed I would ever attempt.
I’ve spoken with far too many writers who say they’ve been working on the same novel for ten years or more and all they want to do is just get the damn thing published!
Hey! I understand, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you stop obsessing and consider the big picture. When you let go, and put that one manuscript on the back burner, allowing it simmer while you continue with other writing, you learn to enjoy the writing process.
There’s a famous story concerning John Fowles, about when he tried to find someone to publish his first novel. He was successful, and after the book’s release his publisher asked, “Now, do you have anything else we might be interested in publishing?” Fowles hauled out seven more manuscripts.
Be like John Fowles. Publishers love to discover new writers who prove to be more than just a one-hit wonder.
Besides, there’s nothing more recognizable, or off-putting, to a publisher than desperation or neediness. They can smell both a mile away! Be professional, enjoy your craft, and don’t obsess!
- Miss opportunities by not taking chances
If you’re writing then you are a writer. Don’t think that because you have never published anything yet that you shouldn’t enter contests or make an appointment to speak with a writer-in-residence, attend writing conferences, and take in all of the sessions offered for writers – sessions like those offered on a regular basis by writing associations, libraries, book organizations. Subscribe to writing blogs, especially those that offer writing advice, links to writing contests, and writing prompts/exercises.
Do not discount the opportunity that all these possibilities offer for you to be able to “network,” to get your work out there, to become known as a writer and for your writing.
Recently, four of the writers-in-residence from the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program came together for a reading, and during their discussion every one of them said they had worked with several writers whose work was outstanding. Check your local writing scene and organizations to find out about writers-in-residence who may be available to you for consultation. This is a very valuable service being offered. In Calgary, we were so fortunate to have a number of writer-in-residencies – Calgary Public Library, University of Calgary, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, the Alexandra Writers’ Centre. And they are all free! You receive free advice from established authors. And you are allowed to sign up for every one of them.
(I’m going to add here that, as far as I know there are no “virtual” writers-in-residence available to consult writers on their work. If you do know of an opportunity like this, please add a link in the comments. Otherwise, perhaps this is a service that could be pursued by an organization, if there is funding available to pay the WIR.)
There are also many opportunities for receiving writing instruction that don’t involve enrolling in a Master’s degree. There are continuing ed. courses available at many colleges and universities around the world, online as well as in-classroom. A quick google search will find you any number of these courses. It’s well worth it to check out the opportunities.
While you’re at it, research writing organizations in your country or city or within the genre you write. Become a member. By doing so, you’ll also join a great community of writers. You’ll become a member of a “tribe” that includes other people just like you. And you will learn from this association.
And, while I’m at it, renew your library card! Did you know that most libraries provide many programs for writers? Especially those located in major centres. Check out the library for more than just books to read.
Attend readings, attend festivals, listen to authors read their work, buy their books, talk with them about their work. I can assure you that most authors LOVE talking with their readers. I was a witness when one very established author burst into tears after a reader simply said to her, “Please keep writing!” These are the best words any author can ever hope to hear.
Take advantage of as many of these opportunities as you can! But do stop short of stalking authors. That’s just creepy!
Susan Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is now a published author, publisher, and promoter of fellow authors and their books. Born and raised in Toronto, and after completing a degree in English Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, she moved to Calgary in the late 70s and immediately found a job in a bookstore, beginning what has become a life’s career working with books and their authors.
Link for Island in the Clouds: https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/where-in-the-world-can-you-purchase-island-in-the-clouds/
Link for That Last Summer:
…yeez can catch some of m’Lady, Susan’s WURK and links here :
…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…
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