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Persistance and Talent for Fiction Writers

079600-blue-white-pearl-icon-business-pen1Discouraged? Some thoughts…

When working as a *creative*, one of the hardest tasks is managing our individual and personal expectations… Some days we are confident, some days we are convinced we suck and everything we touch sucks more, and some days we say FTITCTAJ… (F*** Them if they Can’t Take a Joke)

A large part of what I learned in grad school working on my MFA was that this IS reality… and it will always be reality…

The sooner we each learn to *manage it*, the better off we’ll be…

Here are some ideas that have worked for me

1) Understand that there is no rhyme or reason to it, acknowledge it, and then work around it

Example – when I was freelancing, at least twice a year I had to send out resumes/applications/portfolio packages. I made myself put together my mailing list over several days… making sure that I added theatres to the list on days when I was tentative, days I was confident, and days when I didn’t give a Flying YouKnowWhat…

If I had only done it on tentative days, I would have severely limited my options…

2) It is very easy to focus on what you NEED to learn and overlook all that you HAVE learned… spend some time reminding yourself of the incredible progress you have made so far

3) Create a reasonable and realistic schedule. When you’re working for yourself, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and allow time to slip away.

Set deadlines, offer yourself rewards…

The key here is to be realistic. What would you ask of an employee? Pretend you are your own employee.

4) Sometimes it helps to give into those feelings of inadequacy. Set the timer. Allow yourself wallow time, but limit it. Two or three minutes is more than enough. Then, back to work.

5) Try to understand what the triggers may be for these negative feelings. Often, once you’ve identified them, it’s easy to laugh and move on. Maybe when you hit a portion of your book that you’re not sure of, this is one of your triggers.

If you know that, it’s going to be much easier to work past that.

6) Don’t focus on everything you have to learn. Put yourself on an education diet. Stop reading all those writing books… Work out a viable percentage. For instance, one writing book for every 10 fiction books in your genre.

7) Manage your need for improvement. Choose one element per book to focus on. Choose one part of the process for several books in a row. Don’t try to learn everything at once. That isn’t a realistic expectation for any of us.

8) Be aware that with every writing session you complete, and every book that you publish, what you have learned will change and what you need to work on will change. This is an ongoing process, try to be flexible.

9) Don’t buy into the Talent Myth.

Success in any creative field is made up of two components: perseverance and talent.

If we take each one and rate it as low, medium and high, and then combine them, there is a clear pattern.

High perseverance and low talent equal success

Medium perseverance and medium talent equal success

High talent and low perseverance equals failure

In my graduate school, all of the undergraduates had to either audition or interview in order to be accepted. The very sad thing was we could pretty much predict who was not going to make it through the program.

And you know who those were?

They were the highly talented ones… Because they never learned how to persevere. Most of us are gonna fall somewhere in the high perseverance and low talent range or medium perseverance and medium talent range. And that’s a good thing.

The brutal reality is perseverance will almost always trump talent.

That’s why all of the jokes about showing up. If you don’t show up, it isn’t gonna happen.

Final thoughts — Is this easy? No, it isn’t, but right now we have been given an unbelievable opportunity…

We can write stories and get them directly to the readers. This has never happened before…

The financial opportunities here are amazing, but only if we can focus on what’s important.

You can’t sell what doesn’t exist.

Write your books.

Write smart.

Put out the best book you can with every book.

Publish it and move onto the next one, making it better than the one before.

Now… Win One for the Gipper!

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Story Rescue by Michelle Spiva with Tink Boord-Dill

Michelle and I collaborated on Story Rescue — an amazing course on how to take prewritten fiction plots and make them your own.

Michelle has put together such an impressive package, I decided I needed to give you a tour, so you could make an informed decision about which version was right for you.

http://tinkboorddill.com/writing/StoryRescue

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A Writer’s Cheat Sheets

When in doubt, draw it out

 

Cheat Sheets aren’t cheating ;-)

Today (probably after lunch) I have to write a long and involved scene featuring the whole town… It is the town Thanksgiving dinner and there is a lot that needs to happen in terms of plot. It will likely end up being a couple of chapters. The intro is already sitting at 600 words and they are just entering the Cafe. ;-)

To get a handle on this, I have done two things… I have written notes in Scrivener and drawn out a diagram of the building so I know who can see what from where.

The key with writing is to make things as simple as possible for YOU the writer!

 

FirstChristmasWL-Notes-350w

 

FirstChristmasWL-Diagram-500w

You can click on the diagram to see a larger version.

Now…  get BIC (Butt in Chair)  and happy writing!

Tink

 

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Starting Your Fiction Writing Journey

I am following an online friend as she starts fiction writing — Tiffany Lambert . Like many of the new authors I interact with, she is running into some common problems.

 

Having taught a couple of different kinds of design thru the years, I know that these bumps in the road happen with any type of creativity. The folks who push thru will survive, the ones who can’t/won’t will be the ones with unfulfilled dreams…

 

I try to use my fear/procrastination/reluctance to identify my progress along my fiction path…

 

As you travel on your fiction writing journey, these fears and their BFF — procrastination, will appear…. repeatedly. In many cases, it simply means that you are reaching a new breakthrough in your writing process or that your subconscious is seeing a problem or Plot Hole.

 

If possible, your best bet is to make them work FOR you not AGAINST you. ;-)

 

I spent my early AM walk today alternating between trying to figure out how the heroine escapes from the bad guys (Plot Hole) and bolstering my confidence — reminding myself that the next books ready to go are worthy of publishing… (writing process).

 

In fiction, as in any creative endeavor, ongoing improvement is an important component, but with it comes the fear that can accompany each breakthrough.

 

I like to focus on the fact that I have nowhere to go but up. ;-)

 

I am also trying to focus and avoid BSOs — Bright Shiny Objects, as much as possible.

 

Because this is a business, albeit a creative one, I am also identifying what I want to accomplish each time… In my first series, I just wanted to go all the way through the process of creating, writing, and pubbing. I succeeded and ended up publishing 5 books — three short stories of various lengths, a short novel and a longer 77K novel.

 

With my current series, my focus has been on improving presentation — an easy one — I hired a cover designer LOL, the planning process — in this case refining my plotting process using Scrivener and my own Plot Templates (I am having varying degrees of success, but it IS a learning process), and the writing process — improving my writing speed and how I handle drafts.

 

I look on this as the fiction writer’s version of practicing scales on the piano… once you have the skills down, the action becomes transparent/unconscious — a matter of muscle memory and eye hand coordination and all of my energy can be applied to the creative process — creating the ideas and stories.

 

The single and most important element in any successful fiction writing career is simple — BIC (Butt in Chair). Without multiple books aimed at the same group of readers, success will not be likely… and the ONLY way to create the necessary books is to write them — this means FINISHING them and PUBLISHING them…

 

Now… get BIC!

 

Tink