The Happy Writer, Writing Discussion

It used to be that I could take any topic, and an hour or two later, like magic, I’d have a little story in my hands. It was that simple.

These days I feel like I’m learning to write all over again. I’m hacking apart the words with a steak knife and fitting them back together with duct tape. It’s a complete mess.

What happened? Suddenly I’m not just writing to entertain my friends or to please myself. I’ve wandered out of my comfort zone and my god there’s a big world outside.

We all suck when we start out.

Myra McEntire tells it like it is. Don’t listen to me. The “Suck It” video by Maureen Johnson is awesome.

But maybe you really don’t suck at all.

Nathan Bransford talks about the Dunning-Kruger effect. There’s also the impostor syndrome. The willpower engine explains this one.

But if you’re just starting out, you probably really do suck. That’s not a bad thing. It just means there’s more to learn.

And to cap off today’s musings, a pocket sized, honest to goodness, true story.

“Put me in the intermediate class.” E said.
“Are you sure?” I replied. “You’ve only skated a couple times. Do you even know how to stop?”
“Yeah. It should be easy.”
“OK, if you say so…”

One class later.

“I was the worst guy out there! I couldn’t even keep up! Can they transfer me to the beginners class?  I don’t even know how to stop.”
“I thought you said you did!”
“Yeah but only by grabbing the walls.”

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The Happy Writer, Writing Discussion

Rejection. It’s something every writer has to come to terms with.

A folder of short story rejections lives in the back of my filing cabinet. At the moment there are only a few sheets in it, but I’m working on filling it up. Why? Because every rejection is something concrete. Like a hairline fracture or a battle scar, the rejections are a reminder that my mettle has been tested. More importantly, every rejection is proof that I’ve been writing.

Sure it hurts. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t, but every time I get a rejection, I stop to think about what I need to improve for next time.

Then I eat some chocolate.

Then I get back to writing.

Honestly, if you learn from what you did wrong, then you haven’t really failed. If you refuse to give up, then you haven’t really failed.

Still there are days when I feel insecure and the writer’s blues linger. If you’re feeling down, I recommend watching this video. J.K. Rowling reminds the graduating class at Harvard of the benefits of failure. You’ll feel better after. I promise.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

I also recommend the chocolate.

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Writing Discussion

There are no rules. Some things you can  only truly learn by doing, and writing is one of those things.

Form opinions. Try different methods for getting things done. If  something doesn’t work for you, try something else. Keep trying until  something sticks. Keep writing!

Still, there is some value to advice. Sometimes it can speed up the learning process. A single sentence or concept can force understanding to click, suddenly and  permanently, into place – but that won’t happen until you start writing. So keep  writing!

Oh, and  don’t forget to set aside time to read. Now, please get back to  writing.  You’ve wasted enough time surfing the internet my dear.

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