02 September 2011

[Guest Post] The Journey of Writing Well

Written by Angie Kinsey

The process of writing is a bit like going on a journey. You know where you want to go, you need a map and a few signs to get there,  and you want to enjoy yourself along the way. How do you do this?  

Start by getting your groove on. Set a routine that will help you sit down and do the work. You must fight resistance  in all its forms (distractions, laziness, procrastination, and any acts of self-sabotage) just to get on the road. Some key habits I use are:
  • Get up at the same time every day. Have a routine that works for you and not the other way around.
  • Set a timer for use of the internet, social media and email to limit the distractions.
  •  Use a post-it note for your to-do list. If the list won't fit on a post-it, it won't fit into your day.
  • Face the blank page everyday. I once wrote, "Facing this blank page is like visiting the hospital and smiling at the sick people."  Some days will be harder than others, but face the blank page anyway and write something.
Once you have a routine, writing regularly is easier. It's time to start your journey. It's time to do the work.

Become a 'Overnight Sensation'. On average, it takes 5-10 years to become a 'overnight sensation'. Comedians work for at least five years to become as good on stage as they are in their own living rooms.  It takes about 10 years to become a good comedian. Not great, just good. The same applies to writers.  The more you write, the better you will become.

Cultivate a 'split personality'. One side of a writer's personality is the creator. The other side is the editor.  The creator must be free of the editor in order to create.  Know the rules before you break them. Get a good style guide (Strunk & White: The Elements of Style) and familiarize yourself with it. Once you know the rules, feel free to break them ('On Writing' by Stephen King). When you're finished creating, use your editorial skills to tighten up your work and make it readable.  

Practice the art of seduction. A good story is all about the senses. It's a seduction of sorts. You must draw your reader in using all their senses and make them want to keep reading. This is how you 'show don't tell'. Work on your art of seduction.  Put yourself in the scene before you write it. What does it look, smell,  feel, taste, sound like?  

Live to create  Feed your inspiration. Hang with creative people. Stretch your boundaries. Experience new things even if you're uncomfortable. You will draw new inspiration from these experiences, and you can later use them to describe feelings in your characters.  

Remember, art is messy. Most of what you write will be crap, but that's OK. Mine your work for gems, and polish them. Take those gems and string them together to make your story shine.  

Monkey see, monkey do. Read good stories twice. Read it once to enjoy it. Read it again to see how they did it. Join a writers group. You'll learn from other writers, and you'll have someone to join you in your struggles. Find a mentor. Someone who is better than you, and likes you enough to help you along.  

Get ready to be a billionaire.  I hate to break it to you, but writing does not equal big bucks. It's the exception, not the rule. You should love writing, and love what you write about.  "I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself." - J.K.Rowling. Write for yourself.

Don't give up! Now that you are well on your way, stay on your journey, enjoy it, and don't give up. Rejection is part of being a writer. Some of the greatest writers were rejected before they were ever published. Rejection comes with the territory. Don't give up.  

Angie Kinsey is a writer, blogger, and public speaker.  She currently has a daily inspirational blog, Anji-Kinzy-Whimzy, and a weekly blog devoted to the process of art: Angie Kinsey.

7 comments:

  1. I think it's good to know ahead of time it's normal to take up to 10 years to get published. I am enjoying this time - the time I spend writing (instead of worrying about selling what I write).

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  2. Great advice!! There really is no way to get around it but to plant butt in chair. Lol.

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  3. Found you via twitter (#amblogging) and I'm so glad I did! You have some great advice. I'm going to go on and take a piece of it and get off the internet and feed the blank page.
    Thanks!

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  4. Nicole, Great post. I always end my blog with "Keep Writing." It doesn't matter if you make millions, sell umpteen zillion books...what matters is your love of writing and creating. Whether you are traditionally or self-published, you've got to take pleasure in the process...the creator and the editor, author and fan, the novice and the experienced. All authors have to start somewhere. Today is your day!

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  5. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you Nicole! All your points are packed with wisdom but the one that stood out at me the most was "Write for Yourself." I have a book idea that I keep procrastinating because I worry about what others will think. Your words will give me permission to proceed and with a little luck... not to mention 5 to 10 years to become that overnight success, I'll let my personal passions shine!

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  6. What a great blog post. I'm afraid i'm still on the learning side of Writer's Zen. I am easily distracted by the hum of life around me during the day. Online stuff, house stuff, mom/wife stuff, just stuff in general... lol. My better half has suggested I sleep when distractions are highest and I work when I am up with insomnia. I'm giving it a trial run. Wish me luck.


    -Katandra Shanel Jackson @ FreedomInk
    http://www.freedomink365.com

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