#8. Another Writer’s Advice

You are a writer. You are remarkably insightful. Sometimes you are, even, brilliant. You can write better prose than anyone.

You are a writer. You don’t know anything. Your writing sucks. You should never write again.

You create in a vacuum inside of a roller coaster. Sometimes you are arrogant enough to get burned by the sun. Sometimes your own screaming scares you to death. Inflation and paralysis should be countered with advice from other, and better writers. Breathe and talk to another writer. Get that much needed perspective.

Why do writers need to read? If you don’t know the answer to this maybe you should reconsider your life’s path. Writers read, in part, to see how other writers do it. We need to read to understand our craft. And the liberating thought is that you probably didn’t write your favorite novel, unless your name is Lewis Carrol, Hemingway, or J.K. Rowling. Don’t be mad. Don’t be discouraged. Be humbled by this. Be motivated by this. Reading is a way to get out of your subjective head and into the success of another writer’s finished product.

The truth is, that you need other writers. You need their wisdom and experience. You need to see what works and what doesn’t.

I once wrote, “A man is an island/and one cannot breathe/without the waters that separate the other human beings” I was young, I was rebellious, I was full of grit and stupidity. The truth is, writers need other writers. You need to be involved in a writing community. Writing is a solitary confinement with a high percentage of introverts (including this INFJ). Being purposefully isolated to write–and even if you write in a public place, like a library or coffee shop, you are still inside your own head when you write–simply breeds more isolation within the introvert.

Get out of your own head. Writing can seem like a very selfish act. Writing can become a very selfish act. Get out and get to know and serve your local writing community. This will also ensure that you don’t become a self-involved-jerk-of-a-writer.

I’ve taken my own advice. I have been a writer in isolation for far too long. In fact, I haven’t been part of a writing community since 2012. And with my manuscript completed, and all of my grad school rejections in, I realized that I needed to be out among the larger community. I needed to find my tribe.

I went on Facebook and joined every writers group in my region. I was in luck. There was a conference coming up in a month with the League of Utah Writers. Even better; they were looking for volunteers. This would get me in for free, endear me to the tribe, endear the tribe to me, and get me access to the group faster than if I had just come as an attendee. And I am so grateful I did. I was able to both serve and be served by a magnificent organization. I found my tribe.

Benefits of a Writing Community

  • Sense of community (support, sharing “secrets” of the industry, protection)
  • Sense of security
  • Opportunity to serve
  • Opportunity to be served
  • Networking opportunities
  • Advice
  • “Two-heads are better than one”
  • Critique
  • Friends
  • Potential Discounts (conferences, books, subscriptions)
  • Motivation
  • Accountability

 

Writers on Writing

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”– Stephen King

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”– Louis L’Amour

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” — Joan Didion

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”– Annie Dillard (“The Writing Life”)

“A good book isn’t written, it’s rewritten.”– Phyllis A. Whitney

“Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity.” — Robert McKee, (“Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting”)

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