Come on, Write That Book in 2020

Be honest, how many of you want to write a book but it just hasn’t happened? Maybe you had your plans made, a start date picked, an outline written, a schedule prepared. It was all perfect. You were set to go. Maybe you even made a New Year’s resolution to get serious and start writing that book you’ve been planning all your life.

But then something happened.

You got busy, life distracted you (silly life), or maybe—and here’s a biggie– you became afraid that you just couldn’t do it, even convinced yourself that it was a dumb idea in the first place. Write a book? Who are you trying to kid? I mean what if you fail? What if you never get to those two little words THE END. What if you actually do finish it and it sucks?

These are all questions many prospective writers ask. Believe me, I know from experience. Sometimes even published authors have these same doubts. A writer’s ego can be fragile. We put our work out there for the whole world to see and judge. Many people are kind, but not everyone.

I won’t lie to you. Writing a book takes a lot of time and a lot of creative effort.

A lot of hopeful writers start out great, but then lose traction. That great idea suddenly seems to be not so great. The excitement you felt when you first started, fizzles away to nothing. This can also happen to published authors as well. Again, I know this from experience.

Authors don’t just write books while our publisher waits with hands out to snap it up and publish it. It still has to be a good story, something the publisher can get behind, something they believe in. If it’s not, it doesn’t get published. It’s that simple.

Nevertheless, these things shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our dream of writing a book, if that’s what our dream truly is. I say that because there are people who like the idea of writing a book far greater than the actual doing because, really, the writing part ain’t all that glamorous. You spent a lot of time alone, researching and writing and writing and rewriting, sometimes crying and wailing. You start and stop and start again, you walk away but later come back.

But see, that’s the key–you come back, as many times as you have to in order to get it done.

I think many times, we put our expectations onto the end result instead of enjoying the journey. What I am discovering is that the journey will have its bumps and potholes but try to relax and put those expectations aside. Who cares if what you write isn’t very good? First drafts are often horrible, even for published authors. Believe me, we don’t just write one draft; we write many drafts. We tear apart scenes, change our entry point, points of view, you name it, we’ve changed it. And I know this might seem contrary to what I said about setting writing goals for myself, but I set these goals at a time when I know that the book I’m working on is near to completion. (By near, I still mean a few months away.)

So, if you’ve always wanted to write that book, make 2020 the year you begin. You don’t need to whip up chapters at a time. A paragraph, or even a sentence will suffice, whatever feels manageable at the time. Don’t worry about how good it is or who, if anyone will read it. Be creative. Express yourself. We all here on the planet to create in one form or another. If something inside is urging you to write than you should follow that urging. I like to think that we all have an inner wisdom, that little voice that helps direct us by times. So if there is indeed a hidden voice inside you that is dying to be heard then what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing. Honestly, that’s how I became published.

Here’s hoping that 2020 finds you taking steps toward accomplishing some long-held dream.

Happy New Year.

Are You a Perfect Writer?

Have you ever noticed the thing we want often shows up at just the right time?

 

While I was thinking about writing a blog post I literally stumbled across the quote by John Updike—Perfection is the enemy of creation. And there I had it, an idea to blog about. Thanks Universe, you’re one cool dude!

 

Many of us admit to being perfectionists in some area of our lives if not all. While I hardly consider myself a perfectionist, I can be quite nitpicky when it comes to writing. I often spend outrageous amounts of time writing and rewriting paragraphs, waltzing around with an armful of words without ever making it off the dance floor. Sometimes the changes I make are so slight it probably makes no difference to anyone but me. I like to fiddle with words, and move sentences around. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s a delight!

 

I really don’t know if that means I’m a perfectionist or that I’m a little on the anal side when it comes to writing. So sue me. What I do know is, there’s no better way to stifle creative endeavours, no better way to stop a story in mid scene, than constantly striving for that perfect flow of words the first time through. In fact, that’s kind of where I am with one of my stories at the moment, and I’ve got to stop it. Okay, so I am anal—there I’ve admitted it. Are you happy now?

 

While it would be easy to become envious of those writers who can simply let their creativity take over as they write that first draft, I stand back in awe with hopes that one day my creativity will lead me to write a first draft without the need for me to look over my shoulder even once. I truly think that writers who are able to write, write, write are far more productive than those of us who write, revise, edit, write, and inch our way to the end. Getting that first draft down and THEN diving into revisions just seems to make more sense. Unfortunately, the things we do in life don’t always make sense.

 

To top all that off we have the word perfection to contend with. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but this perfectionism some of us strive for is only a figment of our imaginations. For some reason we think that we should be the judge of what is perfect and what is not, when we all have our own standards as to what we judge as perfect. Why do we assume that our opinion is the only one that counts? Will we ever find that perfect we’re looking for? Maybe, if perfect was something we could pick up and hold in our arms, maybe cuddle close to, something that any dang idiot could look at and recognize like a tree or a flower or a rock. But perfect isn’t any of these things. Perfect is a notion that we carry around in our heads. And unlike a rock or tree, my perfect is going to look a lot different from yours. So who gets to decide whose perfect is the right one? Danged if I know.

 

What I do know is this; eventually, we have to let go of our work if we ever plan to see it published. No matter how we want to polish our words, making them bright and shiny, eventually we’ll be left with nothing but a dull shine as we rub, rub, rub away that original brilliance. Will it ever be perfect? I guess we’re the only ones who can judge that.

 

Are you a perfectionist? Do you agree with John Updike that Perfection is the enemy of creation?

Friendship

To anyone else we might have looked like two old friends drinking coffee and catching up on the latest gossip. Our conversation was intense. We settled right into the purpose of our meeting, to talk about writing and publishing, and everything in between. We swapped stories, shared a few laughs, spoke of our personal triumphant and the many disappointments we’ve encountered along the way. The time flew by. We parted, promising we’d get together again.

I often imagine that I’d soon bore my non-writing friends to tears if I spent too much time talking about publishing and writing, and for good reason. For many of them they love the fact that I’ve been published, in fact they couldn’t be more supportive, but to them it’s a whole other world and a strange one at that. It’s probably difficult for those who don’t write to understand why writers put themselves through the long torturous wait times, the countless hours spent in solitude working at their craft, and the numerous rejections that come along the way. In what other area of our lives would be take such a beating, such outright rejection, and keep on going?

If I went off to work each day to be told repeatedly by my boss that I wasn’t doing my job quite right, or that I was actually doing everything right but it wasn’t going to make an ounce of difference at the end of the day, I would probably go off in search of another job. And yet we writers swallow it all and keep on going, the serious ones that is. Our need to be published, to feel some validation for our work, is a strong one. And it needs to be strong or else we’d fall at the wayside and turn our backs on our dreams. Not everyone who writes is seeking publication. Some people write for their own enjoyment and have no desire to have others read their words and this in no way demeans what they do. But for the rest of us hopefuls we wait and wait for those glorious letters of acceptance that sends our spirits soaring to the cosmos. Someone thinks our work is worthy of publication. Oh happy day!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon deep in conversation with a fellow author. It was great to share stories with someone who is taking the same journey. Were it not for the fact that we are both writers, I’m sure our paths might never have crossed. Our backgrounds are totally different in almost every way imaginable, our writing styles just as different.

I walked away with the knowing that it’s not necessary to have many things in common with someone to enjoy their company, and bonds can be formed between those who share the same passion no matter what that passion might be.

Most of my friendships have been formed through the years with people who do not share my passion for writing. Many of my friends are not even avid readers, and I’m totally fine with that. These friendships are equally important to me. Yes I am a writer but I am so much more. As we go though life we encounter many different people all with a wide variety of interests. Thankfully, we are multidimensional beings and we all help make the world an interesting place to be. We all bring to the planet our individual gifts that originate from the place where creativity and passion are born.

Today is a day for reflection as I take time to be thankful for the many different friendships in my life—- old and new, “real life” and online. You know who you are!

In Search of the Gap

Have you been into “the gap” lately?

Nope, I’m not talking about the clothing company. I’m talking about “the gap”— the space between our thoughts.

Sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it? The space between our thoughts? Imagine that!

We all have chatter in our heads. Don’t try to deny it. We talk to ourselves, to the person who ticked us off two days ago, heck we even have conversations with people we haven’t seen in years— you know, the ones who did us some injustice, or else behaved in a way that was totally annoying and frustrating and WRONG. We go back and have imaginary conversations with them because you never know, we might just find those magical words that will set everything right again. Sound familiar? A bit silly when I put it that way but isn’t that exactly what we do sometimes?

I just found out that the average person has 60,000 thoughts in one day (Gee, I wonder how they go about measuring this?) With that many thoughts rolling around our minds, you can be sure we’re thinking many of the same thoughts over and over, much of it quite negative. Our minds are indeed very busy.

Recently, I picked up a copy of Wayne Dyer’s book on meditation called, “Getting into the Gap.”

This morning I listened to the CD, eyes closed, and peacefully followed along. Even then, I couldn’t seem to keep the thoughts from sifting through. I’ll admit, it was my first time with the CD and I didn’t expect it to be a breeze. I’ve tried meditation in the past but with out much success. My thoughts would drift off and I’d forget for the moment what I was attempting. I usually ended up bored and thinking about the ton of work I had to do that wasn’t getting done. But darn it all, meditation is good for us. It helps reduce stress and fatigue; helps with memory, some people even use it as a form of healing. Now that I think about it, mediation is one of those things I’ve never heard anything negative about. It’s all good!

Wayne Dyer says that within the space where we have no thoughts all creativity takes place. Good news for this writer! I’m all for tapping into my creativity, hauling it out of those empty spaces and getting it down on paper. Sounds SO easy.

Now that I have my trusty CD to walk me through it, I’m hopeful that I’ll be making it into “the gap” on a regular basis. It doesn’t take that long and I figure the least I can do is spare myself fifteen minutes a day. Not sure how long it will take me to catch on but I’m sure going to work at it.

I’m wondering now, how many of you meditate, or have tried it in the past? I’d like to hear your experience. Do you think it encourages creativity and if it did would you be willing to give it a try?

Are You a Closet Writer?

I find it amazing the number of people who have admitted to scribbling poetry and prose in journals then neatly tucking it away from the rest of the world. Maybe they’re afraid that others might think it’s a waste of their time or they’re worried that no one will ever think their work worthy of publication. Who knows? Whatever the case I’ve had many people tell me that they once wrote a story or else they write regularly, or their mother or daughter or sister or uncle writes stories, usually adding that they have no desire to see their work published. Yet it is obvious that they have a innate desire to write or else they wouldn’t even attempt it.

Many years ago I was one of those people who wrote in secret. I believe I actually felt embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed writing, and that I loved the way words flowed upon the page, the images they conjured up. The truth was, I couldn’t begin to imagine not writing something down on paper even though it seemed a frivolous indulgence and, something that I really didn’t have time for. To be honest it seemed impractical. Would it end up being a waste of my time if I was never able to see my work in print? Back then publication seemed like a pipe dream. How could I possibley become a published writer? I was just too ordinary. I didn’t have good enough ideas. No one would ever want to read something I had written. Or so I thought.

I’ll admit publication isn’t for everyone. It’s not an easy road to travel. And let’s face it, having your story out there in the world leaves it open not only to praise but to criticism as well. Praise is something every writer enjoys hearing. Heck, who wouldn’t? It’s like someone telling you that you have a cute baby.

I believe that we all have a creative side, and that we are born with a need to express this creativity. I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t create on some level. It certainly doesn’t have to take the form of writing. It can be knitting, sewing, scrap booking, painting, drawing, crafting, cooking, baking, gardening—-these are all ways of expressing our creative abilities. It’s an endless list. I find it curious that people will hide the fact that they are writing,but at the same time have no qualms showing off the latest sweater they knit or the scrapbook they put together for their grandchild. They send off homemade greeting cards without being the least bit self-conscious. So, why are these same people ashamed to admit they write? And why do we seem to place so much emphasis on words, worrying that they might not be good enough to share with others?

Like every craft, writing is something that we need to practice. The more we practice the better writers we become. Not only that, it needs to be our own, a story that no one else on the planet could write, from a perspective unique only to us. Pretty cool when you think of it like that!!

I sometimes wonder how many gifted writers are out there who are afraid to share what they do with the rest of us. How many scribble away in secret because they’re afraid they just aren’t good enough? And do they ever dream of what might have been if they only had the courage? I think one of the saddest things in life is allowing our dreams to die away to nothing because of fear. I think that’s why I always try to encourage other writers as best I can. We all deserve to have a dream.

So, what about you, are you now or have you ever been a closet writer? It’s confession time. Time to step out of the closet. Be brave. We won’t laugh…

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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