Thursday, August 29, 2019

Writers Need To...

By Cheryl Oreglia

So you want to be a great writer?

I did a google search on what writers need to be successful?

If the objective is to publish a radical best seller, one you find in the hands of total strangers, bent and borrowed, passed from neighbor to neighbor, entertaining commuters on buses, planes, and trains then do read on. 

Or to post blogs that go viral, change lives, maybe change the way people view this crazy world.

What we need is an express lane, something that takes you from blank page to a terrific manuscript, in zero to ten.

If you're like me you've taken some writing courses, attended writing conferences, joined a writing group, listened to all the classic advice about "shitty first drafts," and "sitting down at the keyboard and bleeding onto the page."

Forget all that.

According to google great writers need to do some very specific things:

One source claimed the key to writing well isn't to focus on writing at all but on writing systems? Yes, this intrigued me so I read the whole article. According to Sarah Cy good writers like Hemingway, King, Rowling have one thing in common - a well honed writing system. 

Cy says, "Hemingway, King, Rowling didn't just throw words on paper whenever they felt like it...Hemingway wrote in the morning, as soon as the sun rose. King writes 2.000 words a day, rain or shine." And Rowling implements a helpful color-coding system: on a table of suspects, notes in blue ink are representative of clues, while red ones symbolize "red herrings" meant to mislead readers.

Under my first search I learned there are three parts to a writing system: Gathering materials, writing, and honing your craft. She says they are interlinked, but also separate, like a three legged stool. You need all three to create a solid system from which to perch yourself while writing. 

Gathering Material:

  • Consider your personal experience, successes and flops, usually there is a lesson or two embedded, and this is how your life becomes a valuable medium for your writing.
  • Notice your daily rituals, what do you do that others might benefit from knowing, better yet, what should they avoid.
  • Mercilessly use your more interesting relationships, as Anne Lamott says, "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Follow other blogs, find out what's trending, jump on the bandwagon. 
  • Research your audience, figure out what they are interested in reading, and use this to guide your writing, remember it's not biblical it's just wise. 
  • Join a writing group for advice and feedback. They usually meet at places with coffee so win, win.
  • Keep a journal! This is your best source for material and they come in leather. Oh and buy a good pen, you're a writer, it justifies the expense.
  • A notebook by your bed with that pricy pen is good for late night insights!
  • Have a place where you keep your shitty first drafts, then edit, edit, edit. 
  • Organize your notes, quotes, topics, blackmail worthy materials in one place so you can access what you need without scrounging through your IPhone and index cards. 
  • You have to sit your butt in a chair and write. Seems obvious but hunger, housework, and husbands can be a distraction. Don't get up unless something is on fire. Writers write. 
  • Create the perfect environment. Make coffee if that's your thing, open a bottle of wine, wear comfortable clothing, have a snack ready, and for the love of God limit the annoying distractions - turn off your cell phone, the television, shut the window if the gardeners blowing, don't answer the door for the fuller brush man - you have a hair brush. 
  • Set goals for not only word count but finishing posts, chapters, and query letters. Stephen King claims 2,000 words per day. Clearly he doesn't have a day job!
  • Figure out when you are most productive - morning, midday, or night? Then set aside time to write at that time! 
  • Set limits or you'll end up filing your nails, dusting the keyboard, and sipping cold coffee! People who have deadlines and limits time are always more productive. 
Developing your skills:
  • Good writing doesn't just happen, well for most of us anyway, it's a skill and you can develop your craft. 
  • Read as much as you write, if not more, and soak up a diversity of genre. Expose yourself to as many styles as possible. This allows you to expand your range, like voice lessons, you hit those difficult octaves with a lot of practice. 
  • Hire a writing coach.
  • Join a writing group.
  • Go back to school and get your Masters in Creative Writing (you can do this on-line but you have to actually do the work to improve.)
  • Attend a writing conference or workshop.
  • Find a good editor and learn from there feedback.
Stephen king says if you don't have time to read you don't have time to write. Hey, if none of this appeals to you, I just heard Denny's is looking for a hostess. Writers write and that's all there is to it. “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though,” says J.D. Salinger. If today was hellacious, but you had a good writing day, nothing else matters. Write on! 

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”― Ray Bradbury

What are your writing secrets? 

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