A Big Lie About Writing And What To Do About It

Years ago I believed a lie about writing. Today you might believe that same wretched tale spun by Stephen King and other writers that reside on the level of master writer. This falsehood can dash the hopes of the beginner and cause those waist deep in their novels to give up.

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What is this deceitful thought?

That writers are born.

Consider this sentence written to a publisher from someone considered to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century – “It has lost my favour, and I have no idea what to do with it.”

Who was this writer? JRR Tolkien. What was he talking about? The Lord of the Rings, after working on it for months. He also said this after aching over chapter one:

“it is difficult to find anything new in that world.”

Incredible, no?

Today, if you are dealing with writer’s block or stuck in the middle of your story don’t believe the lie that writers are born. Writing is hard. That is the true problem. Our books are deep work yet must be born in the midst of life where we juggle our paying jobs, family, and writing dreams.

Often we have to dig to understand what is blocking our path. This might require journaling it out, discussing our struggle over coffee with a friend, or quiet reflection for an hour.

Maybe you need to further invest in your creative energy so you have more to give when you show up to the page. It might be time to work on another story for a week or two. It could be a busy time of year so you have to throttle back to two hundred words a day.

Whatever challenge is blocking you from a more fulfilling writer’s life, face it and then get creative. I am sure there is a way over it.

The quotations contained in this blog were taken from a charming little book Tolkien: A Biography pages 210-211 by Humphrey Carpenter.

The lie I mentioned about is from Stephen King’s On Writing which I highly recommend. Except the lying bit of course.

Why I Purposely Never Finish Anything In One Sitting

Based on the title you may envision a half-finished dinner or a neglected Netflix queue but that’s not what I intended. I’m referring to my writing projects of course.

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Some of my best writing is my Second Writing. It’s the writing I do while I am not at my keyboard. I put something on the page, wrestle with it for a bit, then get up and head to work, to rake leaves, etc. More often than not, when I return, I have the answers or clarity I was seeking.

This is one of the best benefits of having a solid writing schedule. I have a draft session then a polish session. When it doesn’t come out right I find it’s worse to force it. There is nothing more disheartening than deleting a plot point that took hours to put together.

I first heard of this method while reading Stephen King’s book On Writing. If you are a writer and have not read it you have too, it’s a prerequisite. In his memoir/writing advice book, Mr. King says that he needs to have proper distance from a piece after it’s finished to be able to come back with a proper perspective. This allows him to kill his darlings and be certain of it.

This is how I blog. I come back to it (if I don’t accidentally hit post) and then finish. It’s how I’m doing the query letter for my fantasy novel now. I want to give my words enough time to settle. Then I can evaluate them objectively.

Do you plow through your projects or do you give them time to percolate?

Part-Time Novel Update – My new publishing schedule will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I’m slowing things down as baby number four arrives in a few weeks. I also hope to provide better content. Thank you in advance for sticking with me.

Are Writers Born or Made?

One of the best books I’ve read on writing is Stephen King’s book On Writing. It is one part memoir one part book on writing. He is a master story teller, obviously, but there was one thing I read that was like a punch to the gut: writers are born, not made.

When I first read it, I thought I’d read it wrong. I reread it. Nope, it was still there. Writers are born, and can be refined to be better storytellers. Some people just do not have the gift. However, if you don’t have the talent to act as a foundation, then you simply will never be a writer. It’s like being forever tone deaf to the beat and rhythm of storytelling.

I don’t believe this for one bit. But it is powerful when one of the better fiction writers of our generation tells everyone reading their book (I assume these are mostly writers) that they must be good enough first, otherwise they will never be a published author. I am thankful I was not going through a vulnerable period in my writing life where this could have derailed me. What if I was struggling with this thought and this comment was enough to push me over the edge and cause me to quit?

I am a firm believe that to be a published writer, you must work hard. You must get up at 5am at times and stay up until 3am and then get up and go to work in the morning. You must read books on writing, go to conferences, learn learn learn, and make it a part of who you are in your everyday life. 

If you find yourself on the fence about continuing your novel, consider this: Do you like the idea of being a writer, or daydream about landing that mega contract? Or is writing enough? If it’s all about the money, I suggest getting a second job. If writing is enough, I challenge you to go and get to work.

Write well, it’s a new week. Make it a good one



Why Novelists Should Write Short Stories

I recently listened to an interview with Stephen King (below). He discussed short stories and how they are an art form that novelists seem to forget. They are dear to him because that is how waded into the writing world. He releases collections of short stories every now and again because of his love for it, and because he does not want to lose that skill.

As I have written in past posts I contribute to a free flash fiction contest at Julia’s Place. They are a fun distraction from the rewrites and edits I am currently slogging through on my novel. I hope to branch out to other websites and one day publish some.

Recently I stumbled upon a website Flash Fiction World.com that takes flash fiction and occasionally pays for it. That is not the best part. The best part is that it gives tips to those seeking to refine the microcraft. HERE are details about a creating a mini story arc.

So, why dedicate a post flash fiction? Because refining the smaller crafts of the story world can enable the novelists to grow and become better at understanding stories. They do not require a lot of time, and can be building blocks to make you that much better at the craft.




Helpful Movies, Books, and Blogs for Writers

There are many things that can influence a writer. Some inspiration comes from people and some from the world of media. I would like to use this blog to make a list of things that I have found helpful in my writing life. I hope you fund these as beneficial as I have.

Movies for Writers

Stranger than Fiction – Starring Will Ferrell. Watch this moving if you have not, and you are a writer.

Midnight in Paris – See my blog about it HERE for more info as why I would recommend it.

Books for Writers

On Writing – by Stephen King. The first book I read on writing. I don’t actually like his writing style, but this book was been very influential to my writing.

The Art of Fiction – by John Gardner. I write about its influence HERE. My favorite book on writing with great writing exercises.

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book – edited by Jane Friedman. If you have any question about writing, publishing a book, getting an agent, when to submit your story, you MUST have this book!

Bird by Bird – by Annie Lamott. Writing a book can seem overwhelming. Just read the back of this book at your local bookstore and you will get it. You take it one step at a time.

Blogs on Writing

Josh MoseyThere is nothing better than plugging your friends and getting involved in the writing community. 

RobertLeeBrewer – He is currently doing a blog on “building your platform”. There is just too much to write about this blog, just go see it!

Word PlayVery nice blog with piles of resources for writers.

Works and DaysIf you are a poet this is my friend Matt’s blog. He is published in so many places I can’t keep track anymore.

If you have found other movies, books, or blogs for writers I would encourage you to share them in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading this week. Enjoy your weekend.