Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How to be a Successful Writer--Part II

Welcome back to Part II of an article by Judith Krantz. Again, my thoughts are in italics.

7. Work regular hours, as if you were being monitored by a time clock. Whatever your schedule, commit to be at your desk during those hours. If you feel blocked, leave the desk, roll on the floor, groan if necessary but DO NOT leave the room.

This is another item on the checklist I need to give attention to. I almost beg for distractions, especially when I’m stuck on something. Work through, dear writer. If a section gets tough, move on to something else and come back to it later. Sometimes the answer to a problem comes when we aren’t struggling with it so hard. Just don't stop writing.

8. Keep good-sized pads of paper and pencils all over the house, particularly in the bathroom, kitchen, near your bed, wherever you read or watch TV. Take a pad with you if you're going out ANYWHERE. Inspiration is a tease and a flirt.

Love this one. I often get “Brilliant” ideas that I’m sure I won’t forget. I don’t bother to jot them down, and, you guessed it, ten minutes later, they’re out of my head forever. Don’t let this happen.

9. Don't talk about your work with your friends. It's better to write in secret until you've been published. This avoids the question, "How's it going?" and prevents using up the vitality of your creative energy in conversation. Show your work to only one other person for commit or criticism.

I don’t talk much at all about my work with anyone. When people ask how it’s going, they get a very vague reply. I usually talk to my husband when I feel like a brainstorming session. He’s good at bouncing ideas off of. Not a writer himself, he gives me matter-of-fact input and nothing else. Invaluable.

10. Learn to compose directly on a typewriter (or computer nowadays). Have a typing chair that supports the middle of your back while your feet are on the ground.

‘Nuff said.

11. Don't get discouraged. One great writer in the middle of her career wrote to a friend, "It's terrible to think, as I do every time I start a book, that I no longer have -- that I never had -- any talent..."

It is so good to know that all writers go through this. I am sometimes embarrassed to read my early books because I think they are so terrible. I almost want to apologize to every person who bought the books. William Styron wrote----“I certainly don’t enjoy writing. I get a fine warm feeling when I’m doing well, but that pleasure is pretty much negated by the pain of getting stated each day. Let’s face it—writing is hell.”

Amen, brother.

12. Rewrite. When your work is finished, go back to the beginning and rewrite, because now you are a much better writer than you were when you wrote your first page. Rewrite up to the end and then look it over again to see if you can't rewrite some more.

I love this and it can’t be stressed strongly enough. New writers especially fall in love with their words and don’t think it can be improved upon in any way. Wrong! Nearly anything can stand improvement. I’m willing to wager you’ve read a book by a famous multi-published author and found mistakes and poorly written passages. It happens to all of us. Read through with an open, critical eye, and rewrite.

And in case you wonder what's up with the squirrel at top of the post, check out my other blog Joy in the Journey to enter a very fun contest. (This will be my only hint.) Yes, there are prizes.

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