Blog Archives

The Company of Others

Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. ~ C.S. Lewis Want to be a better writer? Seek the company of other writers. While you are writing, write for yourself alone, but when you’ve made the best story you can make, you must solicit the opinions of other writers – how else do you improve? Ask I love the CS Lewis quote for this very reason. Asking for critique, getting another writer’s take on our work makes us better writers. Not because the others will rip …Read more »

Why Names Matter

If you hear a voice within you say ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~ Vincent Van Gogh The Chinese poet Lao Tzu wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Your writing journey doesn’t begin when you put words on paper. It starts earlier than that: it begins when you claim the title Writer. You have stories within you; you must otherwise you wouldn’t be here, reading this right now. You have stories within you, but maybe you can’t get them to come out. Maybe you jot a …Read more »

True North

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb…. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. ~ Calvin Coolidge Perhaps it’s unusual to look to a president for writing advice, but Silent Cal sums up the grit you need to write. That writing is lonely work is a cliche, except that it’s true. And even more, writing is screaming into the void. You have no idea, as you are putting words on the page, if anyone will ever read them. …Read more »

Write For Yourself First

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” ~ Virginia Woolf While there could be many reasons why someone starts writing a piece of fiction and then never finishes it, one big factor is other people. Other people! Whether people we know or the faceless specter of The Reader, other people and their opinion, reaction, perception can derail even the most motivated of writers. The Virginia Woolf quote comes from A Room of Own’s Own and whatever else the essay may do, this powerful quote transcends gender and circumstance. We must write …Read more »

Imagination Wanted

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King Sign on the door says: “Imagination Wanted”. Some days, I will walk through that door with confidence to spare. Some days, not so much. It’s easy to imagine that other writers — writers like Stephen King — spend their days in an imagination-fueled dream while we fiddle around with fonts (or worse – close the computer all together!) and wait for an idea to hit us. You can’t wait for imagination to find you — you have to look for it, and …Read more »

Frustrations of a First Draft

“The first draft of anything is shit.” ― Ernest Hemingway A first draft is just you and your imagination; it’s just you telling yourself a story, and that can be frustrating or even paralyzing. Some aspiring novelists never make through a draft because they can’t allow themselves to write badly. I am not an outliner so the first draft really is me discovering the story as I stumble through, and I have to remind myself of that every time I begin a new story. Once the concept settles into my thick head I’m fine. I nestle down in the fictive dream, …Read more »

The Art of Stealth Writing

I’m working on a series of posts best categorized as “An Adventurer’s Guide to Storytelling”. As I’ve been slogging away at this writing thing, I’ve formed so theories about how best to be a good writer. The first piece of advice I got was also the best — Don’t show anyone your story until it’s done. Pretty simple, right? I still remember when Debbie said it. I had confessed to her that I wanted to really try to write fiction. That was a scary moment — saying my dream aloud to the person who matters the most to me and committing …Read more »

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