2014 Goals and Advice for New Writers – Blog Hop

It’s time for another Blog Hop – this one with four questions for 2014.

If you could achieve anything with your writing in 2014, what would it be?

A completed, published work that I am proud to see in print.

What are the top three demons you must slay to achieve your goals in 2014?

–       Perfection – Too much obsessing in every way.

–       Procrastination – Becomes an issue when I have to edit and try to make everything “perfect”

–       Self-seriousness – I really do need to lighten the f*ck up sometimes and try to have more silly fun with my writing.

Name three things that inspire you to write.

–       Other people’s stories – If others can do it, so can I.

–       Other people’s characters – see above

–       The backlog of my own untold stories

What advice do you have to a new writer who is considering writing fiction?

Begin at the beginning – The beginning for you is probably not declaring one Sunday afternoon, “Today I will write a novel!” and then completing it a week later. The beginning took me ten years.  Around 2004, I bought Stephen King’s On Writing but let it sit for in my bookshelf unread because I was too scared to find out I could never write like Steve. So, in 2006, when I moved, I threw it away because I couldn’t stand looking at my own failure anymore.

Then, in 2010, I bought it again and read it cover to cover.  Nine months later, I put my first fictional word down on paper since high school.  Then my marriage fell apart and I could barely function, let alone write, so I put that MS on hold.  One full year later (2011), I went back to it and finished it in early 2012.  After that, I never looked back and since have written several short stories, memoir pieces and I’m trying to finalize my current MS.  Hello 2014!

So that was my beginning.  I wish it hadn’t taken quite as long as it did but I know in my heart it took as long as it was supposed to for me.  Your journey is different and hopefully it will be shorter but whatever the duration, you’re still a storyteller, and the time it takes you to commit to that truth has nothing to do with your talent or potential.

Be patient and nice to yourself – Do urge yourself to write as much as possible and think of yourself as a storyteller who writes but do not be nasty to yourself especially when you feel your work isn’t up to par.  Read Ira Glass’ letter – it got me through and it still does.

Just a few resources that that helped me get started:

–       On Writing – by Stephen King – If you like Steve’s storytelling, you’ll love this part memoir, part advice book on the craft.  What I loved best was that I could see the origin of ideas in his life that manifested later in his work. It helped me see that stories (even his) aren’t conjured but really do emerge from every day experiences.  One word of caution though: he recommends not using plot outlines. If that works for you, fantastic, but it was bad news for me.  I wrote my first novel that way and as Chuck Wendig says, it’s like jumping out of a plane and building your parachute on the way down.  Not fun and things end up really messy at the end.

–       Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – by Rennie Browne and Dave King – A wonderful, practical handbook on writing craft and editing.  This one shares the pitfalls and common errors of most new writers (myself included).

–       Bird by Bird – by Anne Lamott – A fun, insightful and affirming read about creativity, inspiration and what causes us to want to tell our stories.  One consideration though: like King, this isn’t a book about how to write. Also, Lamott will send you off on writing flights of fancy to bring out your muse (which is totally cool) but you may not end up with stuff that is actually publishable.  Either way though, all part of the wonderful journey and you’ll likely love this one.

–       Writer’s Digest – A fantastic resource for any new writer. They have endless live webinars, sell books, offer editing/review services and they have two annual conferences, one in spring in NYC and another in the fall in L.A.  I’ll be attending the NYC one again this year as it’s a great place to meet other writers and pitch agents.

–       The Paris Review – The Art of Fiction – Interviews with iconic authors.  Check out this one with Truman Capote and then scroll through the others. If you need advice, might as well get it from the greats.

–       She Writes – I found this site to be an incredible support group and resource for female writers.  If you are one, check it out!

–       Twitter – It’s one of the best places in the world to locate writers of every stripe.  Take time to be friendly, seek out and connect with others who are writing fiction. The friends you make will buoy you through some of the ups and downs of this adventure – and, believe me, you’ll need them!  Here are a few of the folks I’ve been lucky to meet – check them out!  Chris Kuhn, H.P. Oliver, V.A. Givens and L. Darby Gibbs, to name a few.

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