SOME WRITING BELIEFS
Just trying to be clear on some of my beliefs. See below.
Made it to the WMG offices around 2 p.m. for a meeting at 2:30 to work on planning the layout of the new store. Great fun.
At 4 p.m. went walking with two other professional writers. And yes, got my ten thousand steps today for the first time in over a week.
Back to WMG offices to work on moving the workshops and getting the February online workshops ready to go. First letters will go out late tomorrow night. Workshops start on Monday and still room in all of them.
Then to the grocery store, then home to cook dinner. Then a very long nap after trying to get started on the novel. Brain dead completely.
Some television, then back in here around 1 a.m. to try again. This time I finally got things moving. I wrote one section in about 40 minutes of 900 words.
Took a break, went back and wrote another 1,150 words in just under an hour.
So back up and running. Book finally returned to my head. So 2,050 words. I’ll take it.
And stopping now even though the night is early for me because for the second night in a row a storm is pounding us. The Oregon Coast is living up to its reputation this winter.
February Online Workshops Start on February 1st!
That’s Less Than One Week Away!!!
All of the February Online Workshops marked below have openings. Click the workshop tab above for description and sign-up or go to www.wmgpublishingworkshops.com.
Each regular workshop is six weeks long and takes about 3-4 hours per week to do at your own pace and your own time.
All workshops have openings.
Class #12 Feb 1st Character Voice/Setting
Class #13 Feb 1st Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #14 Feb 1st Ideas into Stories
Class #15 Feb 2nd Character Development
Class #16 Feb 2nd Depth in Writing
Class #17 Feb 2nd Plotting With Depth
Class #18 Feb 3rd Designing Covers
Class #19 Feb 3rd Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #20 Feb 3rd How to Write Science Fiction
Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.
Topic of the Night: Writing Beliefs
After the comments and such from the last couple of days, I thought I should quickly just lay out my beliefs about writing that I hope are clear here most of the time.
1 I believe anyone with the desire and drive can learn how to write and sell professional level stories. It takes time, there are no shortcuts, but it is possible. Everything I talk about on this blog is toward long term career writers and helping writers make sane decisions in that direction.
2 I believe that education on business and craft is a continuing process that never ends for writers. Sadly, many writers get to a place where they think they don’t need to learn anymore, usually prefaced with some excuse like “it will hurt me.” I believe those writers are doomed in short order.
3 I believe writers should write what they want. If that is chasing the most recent fad, fine, if it is what the writer wants to write. But most times writing what we want is from our passion and often doesn’t match a recent trend in sales.
4 I believe that if you don’t quit, keep writing to passion, keep learning, eventually the money and career will come. The learning has to be in both the business and the craft.
5 I believe that any writer who wants to be taken care is a fool and will be taken care of eventually, but not in the way they want. If you don’t want to learn the business you want to work in, I believe you have passed from fool to pure idiot.
6 I believe a writer’s dreams are very, very important and worth time, money, and energy to help along. I believe that people around us who try to hold us back should be booted out the door, even if they are family. Sometimes a writer’s dreams, in my opinion, are worth more than family who want to hold you back.
7 I believe children are more important than anything, including your writing dreams. Pay attention to your children. You can write when they are gone. Writing will always be there, children will not be.
8 I believe in helping other writers move along the road they want to walk. I have no desire to have people walk the road I have walked. I did it my way in my time. Do it your own way in your time. That’s what I try to help you with.
9 I believe a writer should be paid for their time and skill and craft and years of learning. In the same breath, I do not think a writer should ever devalue their own work, even as a beginner. Actually, especially as a beginner.
10 I believe the saddest people on the planet are the people who have not had the courage to move toward their own dreams and have let crappy jobs and bad friends and family hold them back. Fear of learning, fear of change, fear of risk are tragic when they get in the way of chasing your dream.
All just my beliefs and opinions. For what they are worth.
The Writing of Dead Hand: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery
(Shortened down because I have a hunch this is going to take some more days to finish.)
Day 11.. 3,200 words. Total words so far… 19,000 words.
Day 12.. 2,100 words. Total words so far… 21,100 words.
Day 13.. 1,050 words. Total words so far… 22,150 words.
Day 14.. 2,300 words. Total words so far… 24,450 words.
Day 15.. 1,500 words. Total words so far… 25,950 words.
Day 16.. 3,200 words. Total words so far… 29,150 words.
Day 17.. 1,100 words. Total words so far… 30,250 words.
Day 18.. 2,150 words. Total words so far… 32,400 words.
Day 19.. 1,700 words. Total words so far… 34,100 words.
Day 20.. 1,100 words. Total words so far… 35,200 words.
Day 21.. 1,050 words. Total words so far 36,250 words.
Day 22.. 2,050 words. Total words so far 38,300 words.
Totals For Year 3, Month 6, Day 26
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 859
— Daily Fiction: 2,050 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 14,300 words
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,200 words
— Blog Posts: 700 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 14,400 words
— E-mail: 14 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 532 e-mails. Approx. 22,900 words
— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 3 Covers
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Linda Maye Adams
#9 is pretty common. I was surprised when I discovered I had fallen into devaluing my own work. I’ve been submitting for many years, when things were still paper. I remember getting the Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market to look for places to submit. That book gives percentages of submissions vs. acceptance. Of course, for the pro-paying, they had large percentages of submissions and few acceptances. I thought, “I won’t be able to get into that,” so I looked for ones with better acceptance percentages, which were the non-paying ones. It took me many years to realize that I was subconsciously telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to be professionally published, nor would I ever be. I was writing down, rather than aspiring up.
And the writing community encourages it. I was on writing message boards for a long time, and a lot of the writers encouraged everyone stay at beginner level like them. A writer would ask about a more advanced skill and get told, “Big name writer can get away with that. You can’t. Don’t try.” Another I heard was, “Most writers screw that up. Don’t try.”
Once I started only submitting to pro magazines, it really changed my attitude. I improved in huge leaps, and every story I’ve sent out has gotten personal comments from at least one editor.
But the worst part is that this is still common. I see writers checking the box on the rules and telling me I’m doing a disservice to myself by doing X–but they’re the ones devaluing themselves.
I gave up on the writing boards years ago. Too much negativity, weak aspirations, and self-aggrandizing trolls. I gleaned very little information of value from those boards except how not to go about being a writer.
Spot on about kids and writing. Actually, having a kid made me a more disciplined writer, because I know I need to get all my work done before he comes home from school, because once he does he’s going to demand and deserve my attention. It’s also fun to see him growing up all blasé about having books dedicated to him.
Nice list. I would share in the belief for this list. I know I have a long ways to go and I have to just concentrate on the writing and publishing and nothing else. Its been slow going and I’m still learning how to do things. It seems I’m always watching a tutorial for something. But I know that is a part of the learning process and that part will never end. We just have to remember that you can’t buil a house in a day.
I love your list of beliefs! Fantastic! I’m going to print it out and post it near my computer, because it will inspire me when discouragement hits, as it does from time to time. Thank you!
Pretty good set of beliefs, Dean. I agree with all of them. Great statements there, and a lot of wisdom. I especially liked your statement on children, and about helping writers down their own roads. I hope to be at that level, helping others move along, one day too.
And thanks for being willing to help us all get down our roads, too. I’ve gone farther since I’ve started following your blog than I have in the four years prior.
“10… I believe the saddest people on the planet are the people who have not had the courage to move toward their own dreams and have let crappy jobs and bad friends and family hold them back. Fear of learning, fear of change, fear of risk are tragic when they get in the way of chasing your dream.”
Amen Dean, Amen. Thank you and Kris for what you guys do. 😉
D J Mills
I love the beliefs. Saved and printed. Thanks. 🙂
Love everything you’re talking about lately, Dean–including the difficulty of getting back to our work after being away. Thank you for doing these topics every night!
Love this list, Dean. Have to say, though, I couldn’t read it without thinking of the Crash Davis speech from Bull Durham. 🙂
Don’t mind that at all. Great movie about doing what you love and the passion it takes.
I absolutely needed to hear #3 and #10. #3 especially, because it seems one of the biggest fads/trends sweeping the self-publishing world is that in order to make it you have to have a book series (3 books or more). Well, I’m just starting out as a writer, and I was able to write/finish writing 3 books in 2015, which I’m now about to begin editing/revising, and NONE of them are related to each other. While I would like to write more books related to 2 out of the 3 I’ve written (simply for the joy of discovering more about the characters and their worlds myself), who’s to say I can’t go off on another tangent if I want to?
I always think of the classic authors I’m most familiar with, mainly Stephen King, when it comes to this. When he started out, he wrote what he wanted to and had several unrelated novels out before he even began publishing his first Dark Tower series. In his case, being the horror writer he was back in the day, his “series” was more along the lines of stories with the similar “theme” of horror. Even now, he writes what he wants and doesn’t really worry about series—even though the Mr. Mercedes books are a series (but really, they’re the first books in a series he’s published since the DT books—not including the Green Mile, which was a “serial” release inspired by Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers, not a series). So in this case, the series falls along the lines of what genre/type of writer you are versus how many books you have of the same nature/content; but even then, King is more than just a horror writer. Stories like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are prime examples.
It would be nice to hear Mr. Smith’s opinion on this subject of series books and the (IMHO) myth of needing to have 3 or more books in a series before you even consider publishing your first book.
Total myth, Eric. You are dead right. That myth is coming along because young writers who have had some success don’t credit their success to quality storytelling or luck in hitting a good niche, but instead that they area writing series. No doubt that when a series works, it can help sales and promotions. No doubt.
But it isn’t a requirement or sometimes even a good idea. It all depends. The key is to keep learning and having fun with your writing and write what you want.
Thanks, Mr. Smith, for your input. Can’t stop bragging about your “Writing Into the Dark” book, which has totally freed the way I approach writing and given me the permission I needed to break free of many of these myths.
Now if only I can understand why revising/editing seems to be just as popular when you say in several of your books/blog posts that revising is yet another myth, based on Heinland’s rules. Still trying to wrap my head around that when most everyone—even King—shoots for at least 3 drafts before publishing.
Eric, I say I write three drafts. You have to listen and actually see what the writers are doing. And realize that readers need to feel a writer has really spent time on something because the readers have been taught the same myths. So no long-term professional writer really is honest with reporters. I know I am not. I flat tell them three drafts because that’s what they want to hear and it helps sell more books. How I actually write is not of any concern to any of the people who ask how many drafts I do.
I do try to be honest with other writers who want to hear the real truth. But past that, nope, I write three drafts.
Case in point, then I’ll leave this topic alone. Here’s what I got from someone on Wattpad I asked to critique my work, after telling him it wasn’t yet edited; and I quote:
“I’m afraid you’d need to edit it before I could be of any help.
Personally, I make twenty-five editing passes (the last twenty with an editor) before I handing it over to my beta-readers and second editor. Usually, I make about thirty-five passes all told.
As a rule of thumb, I spend about three hours of editing for every hour I spend drafting.
My current project, which is with an agent in New York, took 128 hours to draft and 350 hours to edit. That was the fastest project I’d ever worked on. But then I revised it, spending another 128 hours of drafting, and another 350 hours editing. Just as I finished the second edit, a second agent asked to see it. Only this agent said she was too busy, and could I send it to her in six months. Naturally, my editor and I spent those six months polishing it, adding another 350 or so hours.)”
If I had to spend that much time on my stories, I’d never get to write the next one!
Run, don’t walk from a person like that. Too silly for words to even express, but I am sure a lot of folks here enjoyed the horror of it. (grin)