Monday, May 24, 2010

Pitter Patter Let's Fly Atter - or ways writers can beat the urge to sleep...

And by sleeping, dear readers, I mean not doing what it is you want to do. So without further ado - I will fly at my list. For simplicity sake this is mainly addressed to writers and other 'artistes' but always transferable to your passion whatever it might be.

1. Know what it is YOU want to do, not your great aunt or your cubicle mate at work. Not your long dead third grade teacher who told you you'd never amount to a hill of beans - and speaking of a hill of beans - didn't hurt Jack the Beanstalk did it? So locate that which YOU want to do. First. You can spend much longer at this than you might think advisable. The more time you spend at this step - the less times you'll have to revisit the whole process. Trust me.

2. Keep moving from the big picture to the tiny detail. It is a good way to improve brain plasticity for one thing and for another it will keep you intrigued. I think those are the same things but am not entirely sure. How does this look - be inspired by the outcome of your project - imagine the book launch if you must or holding the published thing in your hands. This balcony view will get you going when you feel discouraged or lacking in energy. Then go down to the floor and get down and dirty with the details. Every tiny detail - every word, every metaphor, examining each brush stroke as it were, to see if it contributes to the overall theme.

3. Spend some time with writers who are better than you - as in more accomplished, farther down the writerly path. Be scrupulous when you do this. Mentor's can't be rushed or forced into mentorship - they must be wooed and they always have the right to refuse your advances. When you ask someone for half an hour of their time - that is what you must stick to. They are farther down the path because they've put their time in and they maintain that place by continuing to - honour this or they'll kick your whinging carcass to the curb! Or worse, they won't but they'll warn others about your vampirish nature.

4. Spend some time with writers who are newer to the game than you. You will be well rewarded when you encourage other writers. Don't let yourself be drained dry, however. (see above) Be clear about what you are willing to offer and what others want. And remember that idiot compassion does nobody any good. Neither does disrespect. Walk that fine line and remember that wherever you are there is someone farther along and someone nipping at your heels. All good.

5. Once having made a decision - stick to it. Stay the course. (see several Friday Challenges past) This means - if you have decided to write a book - well then you don't have to re-decide this every day and agonize over it. Writing a book means just that. Sit down. Write. Set a word goal if you like or an amount of time you are willing to be available for your muse. And do it. You won't always be brilliant - don't let that give you reasons to not show up. Showing up is the single most important thing you can do as a writer. If you write you will get better. And the better you get the more you'll feel like showing up. So SHOW UP!

Now, I'm going to take my own advice. Later, dear dear readers.


Mason Canyon said...

Very sound advice and great tips.

Thoughts in Progress

Talli Roland said...

What a great list. I think the hardest one is making the decision, and then sticking to it. It takes a lot sometimes to slog through the endless middle of a book... but finishing the draft is so worth it!

Jemi Fraser said...

Really good advice Jane. I decided about a year ago to write for more than just me. It's been an interesting journey and I've leared a ton in the past year. Looking forward to learning more :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like the last one - persistence!

Faith Pray said...

Thanks for the good writing words! I like knowing what you want to do and doing it. That's perfect.

Jan Morrison said...

Mason - thanks! Hope they're helpful.
Talli - you got that right, sister! Finishing is gold.
Jemi - excellent and good luck with it.
Diane yep, just like our folks and teachers told us - slow and steady wins the race.
Faith - you're more than welcome!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Some wonderful advice here. I particularly liked, "And the better you get the more you'll feel like showing up.” That is so true.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Jane - yep, I think it is so - we naturally like doing things that we have some competence with, grace even.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Jan, I think this is wonderful advice. I learn so much from writers who've written longer than me, and I try to pass on what I've learned to aspiring writers, too. I'm inspired by both groups.

I forgot to mention that I answered your question on my blog on Sunday's post. A Twitter post--in Jan's honor. :) :

Jan Morrison said...

Elizabeth, you are, without a doubt, the premiere writers' mentor on the blogosphere! You inspire so many folks and tend us all so diligently.
I saw your answer - I commented! At least I'm sure I did??? I've begun the mad journey a bit at a time. Thank you so much for MORE than answering my question.

Jen said...

I am keeping this list for later Jan!!! This was fantastic!

3 & 4 couldn't have been greater ideas!! I completely agree with the fact to surround yourself with all sorts of writers, everyone of them can teach you something about yourself that you never realized! It's great to meet new people and learn new things about them!!

Blogging allowed me to find people I would have never found on my own, I didn't think I would meet all these wonderful writers until 5 months ago people started visiting my blog!

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Jen! I went to your site - nice blog...

Helen Ginger said...

Love your list. All of them are great, but my favorite is to look at the details. The overall goal can be overwhelming, but you can do it piece by piece. Like that old thing of someone asking a guru, how do you eat an elephant and the guru replying, one bite at a time. (Or something like that.)

Straight From Hel

Jan Morrison said...

Helen - I like that story - even though I do not wish to eat an elephant!

Watery Tart said...

Very wise advice, Jan. I think we can all use it. I tend to be a big picture gal and forget the forest has any trees, so that is where I intend to focus my thoughts tonight... not just trees... needles on trees. Squirrels in trees. The smell of pitch and the prickle of climbing... very good advice indeed.

Jan Morrison said...

well my tartlett, I'm there climbing the tree with you! I imagine that is one activity you keep your pants on for?

Julie Musil said...

Well, such practical advice! I think I'll follow it myself. Thanks!

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