Challenge,  On Writing

Making Writing Important

Deadly Issue…

I talk about this problem writers have in many different workshops and in many different ways, hoping that I am heard. Most of the time my words go right by, or the writer nods and says, “That makes sense.” Then a week later has built up a project to be important without really thinking about it, and then wonder why critical voice has stopped them cold.

I have had a couple people lately ask me why I can’t remember my own stories, or why I miss on Rule #4 and not the first three. I usually just laugh and say I am old and have a bad memory, or that I have written a lot of stuff, both of which are true. But the real reason is that the final product isn’t important to me. What is important is the fun of the process of telling a story.

I love the excitement of it, the fear of being stuck, the wondering what will come out of my fingers next. And so much more.

I love writing. I can take or leave having written. I do things with stuff I have written because I want that stuff to make me money to live nicely. And I value my property.

So tonight I got a great comment on my Dare to be Bad blog.  The comment had a Jeff Tweedy quote in it. I figured it fit me perfectly. Kris and I constantly call our creative voices two year old kids. Seems we are not the only ones.


Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy on kids and creativity…

“Kids are creation machines, man. They just barrel forward. And that’s really the ideal state for anybody making something. Figure out what it is later. Just make it; keep pedaling forward. Kids don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on which drawings are on the refrigerator. They’re busy coloring the next one. I really think they pretty much have it all figured out.”

Yup, why can’t I remember my stories? Because I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the drawings on the refrigerator. Exactly!

And if you liked that, go to the blog site:

5 Songwriting Tips We Learned From Jeff Tweedy’s New Book

And read the top five things they learned from Tweedy’s book on how to write. A lot of them will sound familiar, including the 5th thing:

“Don’t be afraid to fail (or to suck).”

In other words, do your best, put it out and then write the next thing.


  • Julie

    Excellent blog post by Jeff Tweedy there. This struck a chord with me:

    “I don’t like every song I write, but I like that I wrote it. I know that for every five or so songs I write, I’m going to have one that means a lot to me, and it wouldn’t have come to me if I hadn’t written the other four songs, if I hadn’t practiced getting to that place.”

    And I recognised this feeling but would never have consciously realised it:

    “…the feeling I get when I write […] that I’m simultaneously more me and also free of me…”

  • Kat

    Wow, that was a great article, and sounds like a brilliant book on creativity. Put it on my shopping list. So much of that is also what you and Kris teach. Guess there’s something to it *grin*

    • Robin Brande

      So glad you recommended this! I bought both his books yesterday and am already halfway through the first. Laughed out loud several times. Love how he expresses himself and describes the creative life. Thanks, Dean!

  • Alex Scott

    Just yesterday I was watching a subtitled episode of a Japanese TV show, “Urasawa Naoki no Manben,” which shows manga artists at work with them commenting about their techniques, influences, etc. The episode was about horror artist Junji Ito (Uzumaki, Gyo, Tomie, an adaptation of Frankenstein), and he talks about how a lot of his ideas are the result of a childlike imagination. He just comes up with an idea, then explores it as much as he can, no matter how grotesque. And he clearly has a sense of humor about his work–he makes more than one joke about how unrealistic his concepts are.

  • Indiana Jim

    I come up against this every day now. I can recall in College when the bug first really hit me, and I didn’t care what I was writing, I was just exploring. Never finished anything, but I kept that sense of play and wonder.

    Today, I’ve gotten past “Book as Event” syndrome, and I don’t even think of my books as my children or any special nugget of cosmic gold. But I do tend to think of it as “important” in some way. I know that it’s early in my output, and that ten books from now this one will be way in the rear view mirror. But I can’t help coming up against the idea that I have to set up the next thing just right or else it will break the whole book. Or the trilogy of books. Like I’m getting confused by making sure every little event is logical. It’s really hard to explain.

    • dwsmith

      When you are thinking that something needs to be logical, that is critical voice big time, dulling down your work and making it tame and safe and thus not really sellable. (No one buys tame and safe.) You might want to get into the Killing Critical Voice workshop. Sounds to me like it is controlling you pretty solidly. Hang in there.