words of wisdom

All posts tagged words of wisdom

Random Friday

Published 01/12/2017 by Barb

Since Sundays were busy with other stuff and I don’t have any random fact for you, here’s some writers on writing, words of wisdom or whatever… It’s been more than two months since the last, so I hope you like it! Have a great weekend! 🙂

First off, I need to explain what I see developing for a writer in this new world of publishing.

With discoverability difficult, with no real way to even manufacture or promote yourself into a bestseller anymore, the writer of today going forward is going to have to build a career slowly. And build it on quality storytelling and productivity.

In other words, the writing world has returned to what it used to be. When I came in, the standard was that if you were prolific and could keep learning and getting better and were persistent, you could start making a small living in ten years or so.

Now, with the indie road to sudden riches gone, writers must learn numbers of things to survive in this new world and start making a living with their writing.

A writer must be prolific. Long gone are the one-book-a-year writers making decent money (past the crop of older traditional bestsellers still going.)

A writer must be a good small-business person. Long gone are the days when you could have an agent take care of you.

A writer must learn sales language and be able to understand sales. Long gone are the days when a sales department did all the work for you.

A writer must learn how to do all their own production. Long gone are the days when you mailed off a manuscript and it came back a finished book a year later.

So now a writer must be a writer, publisher, production person, and a sales person, all balanced and wrapped together in tight, but separate spaces.

That’s the reality I see going forward for writers.

Dean Wesley Smith

Look, if there’s room on bookstore shelves for my books, which smash together genres like a toddler with building blocks, then there’s room on shelves for whatever you got going. Don’t worry about the ephemeral vicissitudes of “the market,” or fret over what’s trending with agents and publishers right now.

Write the story that screams to get out of you. Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy. Don’t be like Arnold on The Magic School Bus, the kid who always said, “I knew I should’ve stayed home today.”

Nobody liked goddamn Arnold. He should’ve stayed home. Don’t be Arnold

Michael J. Martinez

The bottom line is that writers need the freedom and relief of knowing they aren’t failures just because they don’t promote books a certain way.  I know authors who have written excellent books who have done ads, mailing lists, newsletters, blogs, Facebook, and other things very well.  And yet, their sales aren’t showing it.  You’d swear by the lack of sales that they aren’t effectively promoting their books or that their books suck.  Things couldn’t be further from the truth.  They are doing everything right, and for some reason, they aren’t selling as well as they should be.

Whether marketing gurus will ever admit this or not, there are forces outside of our control that impacts our sales.  We have no control over which reader reads our books, likes it enough to pass it on to others, or even if a particular reader has a high level of influence within his/her circle.  All writers can do is control the product (book) and the type of promotion they choose to do.  From there, it is out of our control.

So take heart if you’re a struggling writer.  You’re not alone, even if you might feel like it.  No one can guarantee your success if you follow their formula.  They can only give you strategies that might help.  But they can’t promise you anything.  Take their advice with a grain of salt and apply that which fits your personality best.

Ruth Ann Nordin

So why is this? Is it because, as many would like to so casually say, I just haven’t done “enough”?  That I just don’t live and breathe writing every second of the day? That I’m not a *real* writer? Is it because my books are bad? Because if they’re good and I’m really trying I’d be a monetary success by now. I’d have tons of money. I’d be rolling in the easy dough.

Right?

Wrong. Because writing is not a get rich scheme. Period. Sure, there are going to be a few success stories. Some people can get rich at anything, but just like in traditional publishing, those are few. How many Stephen Kings are there? How many JK Rowlings? How many midlist people you have never even heard of?

Exactly.

So, my point is not to say “boo hoo” (I’m happy with where I am). It’s NOT to ask for your advice, it’s to say that maybe we should stop judging success by whether we are making a fortune and start judging it by whether we’re writing books we love – books that our readers love – and quit worrying about whether we’re selling as many as everyone else.

Besides, it’s impossible to truly compare to everyone else because, you know, no one wants to cop to the numbers.

Have a pennies on a tombstone kind of day!

Joleene Naylor

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Sunday Surprise

Published 17/09/2017 by Barb

And it’s writers on writing, words of wisdom, writers quotes and have a wonderful Sunday! 🙂

Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
P.D. James

Making money is about providing a product or service people will happily pay for. To publish profitably, you need a book that people want; a book they will enjoy reading. Then, you need to produce it into a beautiful product that appeals the target audience and immediately conveys benefits; then you need sales copy and reviews that overcome objections and convince them to buy. Then you need ways of driving traffic to your product.

After all that, you continue tweaking until your conversion rate is high and consistent. Most authors think “writing to market” or considering your audience means writing shitty bulks to fill a need. That’s not at all what I’m saying. I want you to write better books that people actually enjoy, not the book that you enjoy writing. Write for others, not for yourself.
Derek Murphy

But let me give you a couple hints I gave last year (or you can learn how to fix in the blog posts, my book, or the sales workshop.)
If your blurb contains plot from more than the first chapter of your novel, you are in trouble.
If you can substitute the words… “and then this happened and then this happened and…(so on)” for your plot elements in your blurb, you are in trouble.
If you have any of the verbs… is, was, has, will… (and so on) in your blurb, you are in trouble.
If your blurb is a massive, long paragraph, or two, or three massively long paragraphs, you are in trouble.
Tags…? Got any?
Got any author information besides the fact you were born and love cats?
And so on and so on…
So, are your book sales not what you think they should be??  Then just maybe your actual sales tools are bad.
Your book might be great. But few people will ever read it in this modern world if you push them away.
Just saying…

Dean Wesley Smith

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham

Recently I posted this comment on Facebook: “People always ask me how I find time to write. I don’t. I choose to write.” I was in the process of finishing a movie novelization that I had only a few days left to turn in to the editor, so I didn’t pay much attention to the comments that followed. When I checked Facebook later, I saw that several people found my comment “not supportive” and even hurtful to people who had so much else going on in their lives that they didn’t have the privilege of extra time to write. I tried to clarify by adding that “Everyone has their circumstances, but anyone should be able to find a few minutes a day or week to do some writing.” If people truly want to become writers, they need to make a commitment to producing writing, however they can work it into their lives. Seems like common sense, right? If you want to get good at something, you have to practice.
Tim Waggoner

Sunday Surprise

Published 06/08/2017 by Barb

Since I skipped July, here’s some words of wisdom, writers on writing, inspirational quotes for writers, whatever you want to call them, to take you through the summer… Happy Sunday!

NO MATTER WHAT, KEEP WRITING.
William Gibson shared some advice on that phone call. First, never do a multibook deal. Second, don’t buy the big house. Sound counsel, although I was bummed that sinister monkeys weren’t somehow involved. He also said that many of his most successful writer friends are distinguished by the fact that they KEEP WRITING, rather than getting distracted by side projects or celebrity. The week before Cumulus came out, I finished the rough draft of my next novel. It’s currently in editorial and I’m gearing up to dive into a new story. Writing is the ultimate democratic artform. If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably written an email. If you’ve written an email, you can write a book. It might not be the Next Great American Novel, but it would be yours. If you’ve written a book, you can write a better one. If you’ve written a better one, then please don’t stop because I want to read everything you dream up. When it comes to storytelling, we are the only things standing in our way.
Eliot Peper

Learn to write by doing it. Read widely and wisely. Increase your word power. Find your own individual voice though practicing constantly. Go through the world with your eyes and ears open and learn to express that experience in words.
P.D. James

Simply put, your mission with your fiction is to entertain your reader enough for a few hours that they will want to buy more of your work.
If you take the attitude that you are always learning, always having fun, always practicing and trying to entertain people, you will discover you are more productive and sell more.
If you are having fun, entertaining yourself while you write, then your readers will feel that and be entertained as well.
You can sell your practice sessions, folks. Practicing has no pressure on it. Write clean, keep learning, and keep having fun.
That really is the secret.
Dean Wesley Smith

Publishing is a racket because most self-publishing authors see their books as an investment, when it’s actually a gamble. It’s a gamble because they don’t know how to reach their readers (or who their readers even are). They don’t know whether anybody will really enjoy their books. They hope to make some money from their books but because they didn’t write it for the money, they are OK with continuously spending more and more time, effort and money into their books even when they get zero results.
Publishing is a racket because the majority of people making money in publishing are the people selling services to authors. People selling services (myself included) get paid for their time and expertise, but have no interest helping you to make your book successful. (That’s not exactly fair, I should also point out that it’s because, in this business arrangement the author calls the shots and most first time authors make terrible choices, even when the people they hire for help try and get them to make better choices. There’s a built-in tendency towards self-sabotage when the least experienced person gets to make all the decisions).

Derek Murphy

Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.”
Neil Gaiman

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

Sunday Surprise

Published 25/06/2017 by Barb

And it’s a guest! That Diabolic Shrimp who likes to help authors like himself and gift readers with great books! I did promise he’d show up, didn’t I? Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present you Joshua Grant!

Where do you live and write from?

I live and work in the beautiful city of Colorado Springs (United States). We have a bunch of mountains. They’re pretty. Something about them helps me write better.

Why do you write?

I typically write when I run out of cool stuff to read or watch. I also love to entertain people. So basically a blend of boredom and my need to be a goof have driven my writer’s bug.

When did you start writing?

Ironically, I started writing when I was 15 after I just finished a big standardized test. I needed something to do and we were allowed to free write so that’s what I did. Haven’t stopped since (writing, not standardized testing).

What genre(s) do you write?

I’ve published a Horror novel, but I also write Sci-Fi and Fantasy (mostly Young Adult). Horror was kind of a fluke for me, especially since I’m kinda a big scaredy cat, but I think it’s my best writing. I also like to scare people.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I’m not really sure I have a routine. I sharpen my pencils, sit down, and just start writing. I make sure I write at least a little everyday. I do everything long hand, then type it up when its finished (It’s my one chance to listen to music and sort of veg out), and then spend many months revising it.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

My strengths as a writer mostly fall in the overall story. I’m good at coming up with a lot of unique ideas and mixing in a bunch of twists. I’m also really good at the description piece (I sometimes have to pull back on the description since I like to do that a lot). I think my creativity came from my over active imagination, which I’ve never turned away from. I’m a very visual person as well, so my ability to describe comes from my ability to visualize things.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I typically find my inspiration from other things I’ve watched and read. I also love to take some deep moral issue and build a compelling story around it. My Horror novel Pandora is an example of this. It’s built around the idea of finding hope in a hopeless dark situation. I actually don’t typically write myself into my work. Most of my characters are pretty different from me.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I have a pretty solid outline for my work, but I never write it down. I keep all the outlines in my head. Whenever I write an outline down, I feel like I already wrote the book and don’t have any push to write it. When I actually get to writing though, I’m pretty fast. It’s the post rough draft part that takes me 8 million years to complete.

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

I’ve only published one book so far (I’ve got two more coming this year). My horror novel Pandora is about a cruise ship that goes missing. It re-emerges a week later transmitting a single word—Pandora—prompting an investigation by a Special Forces team. This book was tons of fun to write. I tried to capture all the frantic action, grotesque creatures, and hapless heroes of films like Aliens and The Thing from my childhood. Check it out at Amazon if you’re interested!

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I used to be dead set on traditional publishing until this past year. Now I’m an Indie author and I love it. Traditional publishing is a nice way to go if you don’t like the business and marketing side of things. As I got into the business, I learned that I love the marketing piece. I love meeting people and supporting other authors. It’s been a lot of fun being in charge of every part of the process.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’ve finished the next book in my horror series, Jericho. This one involves a father and his son trying to survive the evil creatures that have infested the small mountain town of Shadow Pines. I also have a zany fun fantasy epic coming called Silly Tales from Albanon. I’ve decided to turn this one into a graphic novel which I’m pretty excited about. And as always, I’m hard at work growing my author support site Diabolic Shrimp. I support other authors through the site so if anyone’s interested, head to www.diabolicshrimp.com to check it out.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal as an author is three pronged. I intend to reach one million readers over the course of my writing. I’m currently pushing towards a thousand so I’m about a thousandth of the way there and I’ve only just begun! My second goal is to publish two books a year. Right now I’m on track to accomplish that one, but we’ll see how much Jericho keeps wrestling with me! And finally, my goal is to support at least 10,000 other authors through Diabolic Shrimp. My personal goal was to get 100 authors on Diabolic Shrimp within the first year of its existence (which we’re well ahead of schedule so far). Then next year I’ll expand that to 1,000 authors, then jumping to 10,000 the following year.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Great writers write.

_______________________

Find Joshua online

webpage

Goodreads

Sunday Surprise

Published 18/06/2017 by Barb

Some words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it before the next batch of guests – if any! 😉 Have a great Sunday! 😀

So my advice to you is ignore what society tells you that you must do, ignore what friends tell you that you should do. Do what you want. So when you get to my age, you might be having as much fun as I am.

Ain’t easy, but it is worth it.

Dean Wesley Smith

But here is my point: you need to set goals that are realistic for you under the circumstances that you find yourself in.  If writing a page a day is all that you can manage with a busy schedule, it will still get a novel draft done in a year.  Setting goals that are difficult or impossible to reach will just stress you out, making it more difficult to write, and they’ll take a toll on the finished product.
Writing fifty pages of unusable prose in a day is no better than writing nothing at all.

David Farland

You have to surrender to your mediocrity, and just write. Because it’s hard, really hard, to write even a crappy book. But it’s better to write a book that kind of sucks rather than no book at all, as you wait around to magically become Faulkner.

No one is going to write your book for you, and you can’t write anybody’s book but your own.

I’m not really a sports person, but there’s that saying, ‘Keep your eye on the ball.’ I would imagine it’s easier to hit something if you’re looking at it, right? Well, in writing you have to keep your eye on the ball too, but some people mistake what the ball is. The ball is not the New York Times Bestseller List; the ball is not even publication. Your writing is the ball. Focus on writing your very best – your writing, and nothing else. Because no matter how brilliant your work is, there will always be some people who are going to hate it and tell you it sucks, so focus on making your work important to you, and at least to some people, and that’s perfectly good enough.

Cheryl Strayed

You go up the mountain of your idol, but when you get to the top, you realize they’re already there, and that mountain is never going to belong to you. So, you go do your own thing and it’s more of a shit-pile than a mountain at first, but it’s yours. It’s your shit pile. And that’s not nothing.

You can’t run from who you are. Not your brain, not your inclinations, or your experience. So accept your shit – run toward it, use it.

George Saunders

And so, my fellow aspiring-literary-superstars, if Cheryl Strayed’s advice boils down to “surrender to your own mediocrity” and Saunders’ advice is “go with your natural mode,” then my advice will be this: if you write, be brave enough to call yourself a writer, out loud and not just in some dark corner of your brain. It reaffirms what you’re here to do, what you love, what you’re working for, and what you should be doing instead of watching all those cat videos on YouTube (I just had to force myself to deactivate my Wi-Fi in order to finish this conclusion, I feel your collective pain). Because if Genius George Saunders says I’m a writer, then you sure the fuck are too, and I want us all to achieve greatness together.

Wes Janisen

Sunday Surprise and Happiness is…

Published 16/04/2017 by Barb

And some writerly quotes, words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever  for pondering on Easter Monday! 😉

Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.
William Faulkner

Forget perfection. You can’t control success. You aren’t anybody else. You are you. It doesn’t matter if anyone believes in you. Let their disbelief charge your batteries. You can believe in you.

Focus on today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Make something. Create something. Act in defiance of reality’s accord. Spit in the eye of any who expect you to do differently.

Relish in the unmitigated thrill of doing what nobody wants you to do.

Nobody wants you to be an artist.

But you do, so fuck them.

Chuck Wendig

I think the really productive pulp-speed writers at a deep level don’t care about the finished product. They did the best they could while writing. That was all they could do, so them move on.

The lack of caring comes from the fact that real pulp-speed writers of any era love the process of writing. Some love it for the challenge, some love it for the creation, some love it for the fear.  So when a story is finished, all the things they love about writing are done.

So they move on to the next story.

They just let go.

Very few writers have that ability. That’s why there are so few pulp-speed writers and so many writers who want to produce more but never seem to be able to.

Have fun with the writing. It is the first step to picking up production as a writer.

Dean Wesley Smith

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Bernard M. Baruch

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday Surprise

Published 26/03/2017 by Barb

Words of wisdom, writers on writing, take your pick and go WOW! Have a great Sunday!

But if you don’t write, the world will never know what you might have done.
I realized back then that I had to take complete responsibility for my writing.
I had to set up times to write.  I needed to make sure that I stayed on task.
I hoped that someday I would get fan mail from readers who would be eager for my next book, and maybe that would help inspire me, but I knew that that day would never come unless I practiced my craft, all alone, with no audience but me.
Over the past few years, that realization has grown.  And you don’t have to just write the novels, you have to sell them.
Your publisher cares whether you sell, of course, but not nearly as much as you do.  It’s like horse racing, where you’ve only got one little horse.  The publisher might be backing you, but he’s got dozens of horses all in the same race.
His chances of winning are excellent.
So we have to take responsibility for our writing—not just for writing our own novels, but for editing them, writing the blurbs that sell them, getting cover quotes, and marketing them both in person and on the web.
Yes, agents and editors may help, but ultimately we must be responsible.  Writing a book is only part of the job.  It may take a couple of months.  But promoting a book well can require years.

David Farland

The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.

– Richard Price

The key there is: I cannot be pinned by expectation.

Some people think outlining a book robs the book of its magic. Some people think the business kills the joy of making words and creating art. But for me, the great thing that will siphon the joy out of what I do — the pesticide that murders the butterflies flitting about in the dark shrubbery that is my heart — is expectation. Not my expectation. But yours.

And now we come full circle because once again, I say:

Nobody wants you to be an artist.

Not the people who love you. Not the people who hate you. Not the people who don’t know one whit about you. Nobody wants that for you or your life.

I want you to think about that for a moment.

I want you to focus on that for a moment.

Take the idea like a pebble or a pearl, tuck it in your mouth, swirl it around.

This is what that does for me:

When I sit down and I start to write, I take a secret thrill in what I’m doing. Because this is forbidden territory. This is verboten. Everyone has built a fence of expectation around what I’m doing and yet, here I am, having climbed the fence. I’m making art and the world doesn’t want me to make art. I’m in a secret garden stealing your vegetables. I’m traipsing about someone’s home in the dark while they sleep. I’m mixing potions. I’m making monsters. I’m tap-dancing on the edge of a cliff, and the world can watch me kick off my shoes, pirouette, and lift both middle fingers in the air with a smugly self-satisfied look on my big beardo face.

Chuck Wendig

But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
Elizabeth Gilbert

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

– Stephen King

Violate conventions and you are marked as an outsider. A rude outsider, at that.
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

If you want little, give little; if you want much, give much; if you want all, give all.
Matshona Dhliwayo

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