Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Time to Write, A Time to Not

I perceive four types of people who pursue writing. There may be more, but I suspect all of us who dare take on this lofty ambition will fall into one of the following four types, even if it is a subcategory.

• Those who talk about writing, but never really seem to get past all the perceived roadblocks.
— Time
— Family
— Kids
— Responsibilities
— Summer adult baseball, winter adult basketball, or youth sports, dance and other classes
— My REAL job
— I’m really busy developing my Internet social sites and interacting
— I’m in love
— We broke up
— I died

• Those who have scads of ideas, copious notes, all kinds of outlines and partial WIPs
— I don’t know how to write
— I cannot finish anything because I’m always starting something new
— I don’t have enough confidence to continue
— My last 52 starts haven’t been good enough
— I need a mentor
— I want somebody else to take my ideas and run with them, but share the glory (riches) with me
— Everybody who reads my idea tells me it’s a great one but don’t tell me what I need to do next
— My laptop battery went out and I cannot find the plug-in adapter
— I lost everything and hate to start all over
— I’m still working on my NaNoWriMo project, knocking all my other ideas to the back burner

• Those who have finished manuscripts
— I need to know what to do next
— It’s too long, I need to cut it down
— It’s too short, I need to bulk it up
— I need an editor (cheap or free)
— I need readers (cheap or free, but they need to get back to me yesterday after agreeing to read)
— I need a book cover designer (C or F)
— I need a publisher
— It’s finished, but not really, so I need to go back and read and re-read and re-write it
— I’m going to let it rest for a month, then go back and take another look
—Hey everybody! I did it! I wrote a book! Several books! Starting another one!

• Those who are ready to market, solicit, query, seek an agent or self-publish
— How do I let everybody know about my book unless I SPAM them everywhere?
— How do I SPAM everybody everywhere when I only have four e-mail addresses?
— I can’t get anyone to review my new book!
— I can’t get anyone to give me more than one star!
— I get plenty of reviews, but they all suck!
— I’m not happy with: SmashWords, Amazon, Nook, iBookStore, Lulu, CreateSpace, etc.
— I’m not happy with the contract I signed with ACME (fictitious, I think) Publishers!
— My publisher isn’t doing anything for me. I have to do it all: editing, marketing, promotion...
— I got a 5-year, 5-books signed contract, but I have no idea what to write next.
— My manuscript was accepted but here it is a year later and they’re still making me do rewrites!

Does any of this sound familiar? Ring a bell? Make your eyes pop at the pure audacity of the comments? Are you amused, confused or abused by any/all of the above? I admit, it really isn’t funny. After all, we all take our writing, or attempts thereof, seriously. Who is this blog author to abuse that?

For the many, many, many of us who are truly serious about our writing endeavors, the answers are simple. We have read them all in a billion other blogs, books, articles by successful commercial authors, at seminars and workshops. For those who simply want to play at it, all the answers are hard, difficult, impossible even, because they all require that we do something...apply ourselves.

You ever wonder why, for the most part, you cannot remember your dreams? Because they are, after all, only dreams. Nothing tangible, except for those who immediately wake up and use their bedside notebooks or voice recorders...but, hey, these people are the ones who are truly serious about writing. For the rest of us, dreams are dreams, realities are realities. But, if you are truly serious about writing, then each and every reality (Story. Your novel.) was once a dream. Not an enigma or riddle. The equation is simple: Great ideas won’t work unless you do.

It is up to each of us to keep our fires burning, our momentum going, our dreams alive. The basic formula for the first type I listed is to make the determination to write a few words, sentences, paragraphs or pages each day—whenever and wherever we manage to take the time, and regardless of how we feel mentally or physically when that opportunity arises.

The second group needs to pick a story, any story, keep a journal or voice recorder close by to jot down or record new, conflicting or more enticing ideas, and finish that story. Then peruse your other ideas and pick another. Finish it. Pick another. Finish.

There are a number of ways to approach things if you’re a third group member. If you are a writer of any size, shape or description, you must, MUST begin another project ASAP! You will stagnate as a writer if you abandon your stories for the sake of placing your finished, nearly finished, or all but finished manuscript. Yes, it needs to get “out there” and be seen in print or eBook. Yes, you need to develop a readership, gain exposure, establish yourself as an accomplished author. Unless, however, you plan to be a one-book wonder, you need to keep writing. So, if what you did is a labor of love and you wish to openly share, then upload and release it. If it is worth more to you than that, then you need to find a way to outsource some of the other services you need so you can keep writing. If you don’t, you’ll fall back into the elements of the first two types I listed, and essentially have to start the whole process all over again.

Ah, those of us in the last group have so many challenges before us. Primarily, however, we need to be organized. We need to focus on our individual Big Picture, and generate outlines, to-do lists and establish priorities for our long- and short-term goals that we believe will get us where we wish to go. There are decisions to make, to be sure, but we’ve made it into this category so we have conquered our inability to self-start, to overcome, to finish projects. All we need to do, really, is research our options, and when opportunities manifest, we need to carefully study the options and not gleefully jump into the fire with the first smiling handsome person who shows up to bid.

Hard to be logical and left-sided in a right-sided, creative brain, but we all are capable of adapting. It is important to remain positive, keep the faith, maintain hope and stay the course. Those of us who do will...those of us who cannot see how this is possible. Well? Well, you do have access to awesome friends, fellow readers and a boatload of online resources to help you get where you think you want to go as a writer. Doing something about it will move you from one category of writer-types to the next.

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