When Your Writing Sucks

pencilI used to struggle with what came out of me onto a fresh page. It was never as beautiful or brilliant as it was in my mind. In my mind, I was an eccentric, quirky, and stunning writer. One the world had yet to seen. In reality, my words were mediocre at best. It kind of depressed me. Thus, began the slog of my writing career.

Every time I wrote, I suffered a little on the inside. Why was I doing it? Why was I torturing myself when my writing sucked? I would never be an award winning writer. I would never write perfect prose like the kind in Karen Walker’s The Age of Miracles or a classic like A Wrinkle in Time. When friends read my work they thought, “I could do that,” not “I wish I could do that.” I was kidding myself. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed.

But it’s been almost a decade since I started writing professionally and it’s been three decades since I vowed to one day be a writer. And I suddenly got it.

All the work that I’ve put in. All the bad writing that I wrote and continue to write. It MEANS something! It is getting me somewhere. The work is the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Eventually you will get there too. But all the sweat you’re putting in is important. It’s necessary even. Every single writer started where you are. Even Mo Willems and Dan Santat must have written something unsuccessful at one time.

I sometimes need to be reminded of it too. Just because your working isn’t published or publishable right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t be. Your time will come. If you put in the time now.

It’s just like raising kids. Your kids won’t applaud you, give you an award or promote you for a job well done. But it MEANS something! At times, it is everything! It may be one of the most important things you do for them, for yourself, for the whole world.

Your writing is your babies. You need to invest the time and energy and the pain of producing shitty work to get to where you want to go. And when you get there, you will know. You will understand why you had to go through hundreds of crappy drafts, and rejected manuscripts. You will get it. And you will appreciate that crazy journey all the more.

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Top 10 Productivity Secrets of Famous Authors

writing desk

{guest post by Linda Craig}

It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a novel, an article that’s about to be published online, a script for a film or anything else; you’re probably bound to a specific timeline. As any other writer, you would probably want to write as much content as possible in a shorter period of time.

If you’re looking for productivity boosters, maybe you’ll get inspired by the practices of some of the most successful writers known to this day. Here are 10 secret practices that have helped authors to become more successful:

  1. Word count goals

Anthony Trollope, one of the most prolific novelists of the Victorian era, had a productivity practice that works well for everyone: he set goals to write 250 words every 15 minutes. That’s 500 in half an hour, and it seems like a lot of work. If you don’t think you can achieve such productivity, feel free to lower the word count or increase the time frame. The important thing is to set a goal and work towards it.

The National Novel Writing Month, a famous contest that requires writers to write at least 50,000 words in a month, is based upon this principle of productivity. Although you’ll be focused on quantity, you mustn’t forget about quality. For that purpose, you can try assingmentmasters.co.uk – a writing service that will help you maintain the quality high while produce more content.

  1. Writing about terrible things

There is hardly something that will inspire you to write more than terror, horror, and suffering. Daniel Handler, an American novelist we know by the pen name Lemony Snicket, had a peculiar inspiration for writing A Series of Unfortunate Events: he thought about all horrible things that could happen to orphans. His publishers doubted the first novel would sell, but the author ended up publishing a series of 13 books on the same theme.

  1. Picking the right tool

Did you know that Charles Dickens was a little too attached to ink in a specific blue color? This type of ink dried faster, so the author could write as fast as he could without making a mess. The right tool is crucial for productivity in writing. If you have a favorite type of pen and notebook, then stick to them. If you prefer using specific type of writing software, then you can stay within that comfort zone.

  1. Hiring a fast typist

When Dostoevsky had to write a book by a really close deadline determined by his publisher, he hired a talented young stenographer – Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, who later became his wife. With her help, he finished The Gambler within a month. Have you read that book? It’s a true masterpiece we are able to read thanks to this magnificent woman.

Maybe a typist can help you achieve much greater productivity, too. He/she will write as fast as you can talk, and the entire process will start flowing effortlessly once you get used to each other. Don’t worry; you don’t have to marry your typist if you don’t want to.

  1. Staying in the dark

If we had to pick the strangest productivity method, Marcel Proust would definitely win. When he wanted to get into productivity mode, he covered his windows with dark curtains and shutters, and he lined the ceiling and the walls with cork to make the room soundproof. He slept through the day and wrote in the night, so he was disturbed by sunlight.

If you’re a night person, you can try this technique, too. You don’t have to make it that drastic; just find a way to make the room dark throughout the day, so you can sleep without being disturbed. Then, you’ll have the entire night for writing.

  1. Isolation from the world

Victor Hugo also had an extreme method when he wanted to force himself to finish The Hunchback of Notre Dame – he asked his servant to lock all his clothes away. Some people say he stayed naked, and others say he wrapped himself in a huge grey knitted shawl. Whatever the case was, he couldn’t get dressed to go out, so all he could do was stay home for months and do nothing but write.

If you notice that the outside world is getting you distracted, then find a way to stay at home and work patiently on your piece.

  1. Getting a cat

You need someone to support you, don’t you? People talk too much, and dogs can get too happy sometimes. A cat, on the other hand, is the perfect companion of a solitary writer. Edgar Allan Poe knew best – he was supervised by his cat Catterina. He adored this cat!

When you love a pet and you care for it, it will believe in you. It will make you feel loved and safe, so you’ll gain more self-confidence and you’ll find more pleasure in writing.

  1. Renewing the bond with nature

Isolation works for some writers, but sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air before you can continue writing with full speed. Did you know that Herman Melville took long walks when he needed to get more creative? He owned a 160-acre farm in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he wrote Moby-Dick.

No, you don’t have to buy a farm and walk the fields when you want to write more. However, you do need to take a walk and renew the bond with nature. Breathe and observe the world that surrounds you. There is nothing that can inspire you more than the world itself.

  1. Getting inspired by scents

Friedrich Schiller kept a drawer full of rotting apples in the desk where he used to write. That aroma probably reminded him of something that triggered his creative juices. You’ll be surprised to discover what scents can do to your brain. Take an old perfume, smell it, and it will immediately take you back to some scenes that mattered. You’ll experience old memories all over again.

Find the scents that inspire you and surround yourself with them when you write. It can be a candle, some meal or dessert, or anything else that makes you want to write something right away.

  1. Organizing the desk!

Alexandre Dumas used different colors to organize the types of literature he wrote. If your desk is full of books and paper, then you need to find a method that will introduce some order into your life and work. Keep things uncluttered and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by any unnecessary objects around you. Order will certainly speed up the process of writing.

So, are you ready to try some techniques that will make you a more productive writer? Take action today!

Linda1Linda is a professional editor at Assignmentmasters assignment writing service. She is currently working on her PhD project and writing useful articles for broad audience. Feel free to reach her by Twitter.

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Here in the Midst of Challenge

I often do as you do. I read about people once they’ve already climbed the mountain and faced that lion. It’s all inspiring and humbling to do so. But what I rarely get to see is a picture into the lives of those who are fallen.

What do you if you’re not there yet?

I’m in that murky space right now.

I’ve spent 8-years in the professional nonfiction arena. And I’ve done okay for myself. I’ve worked with reputable companies. I’ve built a network of clients that can depend on me to create and complete finished articles on time. I rarely have to look for work and grateful that somehow people find me. But what I haven’t yet done is succeed in my fiction life.

In other words, I’m still climbing that mountain.

I’d like to write a riveting blog post concerning the twist and turns of countless rejections with stops and starts of my fiction career. I’d like to say I spent 7-years tolling away at my work about to give up when a glowing response from a literary agent and a top ten best-seller review gave me hope again. This is the sort of stories I end up reading about. Mostly because when people are in the middle of struggle, they’re holed up at home. They’re throwing their hands up in the air. They don’t want people to know they’re going through a hard time. They want people to celebrate with them once they’ve succeeded.

But the truth is, our seemingly weakest moments are our strongest ones. It is the times when we’re at our breaking point, when we are on the verge of giving up, that makes for great stories.

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown says the following:

“While vulnerability is the birthplace of many of the fulfilling experiences we long for — love, belonging, joy, creativity, and trust, to name a few — the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.”

This means that all of you who are writing right now and receiving those rejection letters are on the path to the greatest opportunity to elevate your courage, and your sense of identity. It’s not an easy road when we don’t know whether our work is of value or if anyone will care.

But as Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic, that doesn’t matter.

Quotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-Magic

Create what you must. Write because you delight in it. Face your fears every day while you’re sitting at your computer despite the fear that it’s not good enough. Because I believe if you work at it every day, you’ll eventually get there. And all that courage it took to do so, will not only make you a better writer, but a better person.

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What Editors and Agents Really Want

{Photo by hotblack}
{Photo by hotblack}

All the rejections from articles, essays, and poems lay in a heavy heap over my heart. They are evidence of one thing that I have to keep learning repeatedly.

Success doesn’t come from replicating successful writers.

This I have to tell myself after yet another agent/teacher recommends I read a bestselling book in hopes their innovative ideas, voice or style rubs off on me.

This after my insecurity makes me succumb to Oprah’s often told lesson of trying to imitate Barbara Walters. But she learned, “I can be a better Oprah Winfrey than a pretend Barbara Walters.”

But no matter how tempting it is to try to follow in your idol’s successful path, you will not fulfill your purpose until you have the courage to step out on your own two feet.

After almost a decade of being a freelance writer, I’ve learned that while you can get jobs by writing like everyone else, you become irreplaceable when you learn to hone in on what makes you you. You become valuable when you stop trying to write like everyone else and let your own voice shine through. You will become the sought after writer who doesn’t have to actively search for work when you have the confidence to write like you.

This may take years to build up courage.

It may take awhile to find your voice and your audience.

But you will find it.

I started a writing career first in Hawaii, then in California and back to Hawaii. I also write for a company on the East Coast. But what sets me apart from the gazillion other writers around the world is my experience, story and style.

That doesn’t me you don’t follow rules or listen to editors and agents. I’ve actually spent several years getting a BA in English learning how to write like everyone else so that I could afford to write like myself. But once you get it, once you learn the basic skills so that you can write, let yourself go. Stop comparing your writing to every successful writer/blogger/author out there. You won’t get very far if you adapt the style and tone of a writer you envy. Your writing will take off only when you let the words be indicative of your personality. When you risk showing who you are to the world, that’s when people will take notice. That’s when your writing will blossom.

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What Should You Do When Inspiration Hits?

{Etsy art by Lyrical Artworks}
{Etsy art by Lyrical Artworks}

It happens at the most inopportune times.

It happens when you’re driving,

when you’re in the shower,

when you’re running.

When your mind finally quiets down, inspiration hits!

That’s a great thing unless you’re in motion and can’t jot it down. What do you do in those situations?

Do you pull over on the side of the road (hopefully you don’t try to text while driving)?

Do you shorten your shower?

Do you stop running mid-way?

Or do you just let the idea slip right out of your hands?

If you’re like me, you’re desperate to save inspired thoughts and would do anything to keep from losing them. I’ve tried different note taking apps and audio recorders. But this is the one thing I didn’t think of. Letting them go.

I just listened to a Sounds True podcast with mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. Here’s what he said about ideas during meditation:

“I think that if a thought is really, truly innovative and creative, you won’t have it once and never remember it. So a lot of people might think, ‘Well, if I’m meditating, I better sit with a pen and a pad of paper to capture any of these fantastic, great, wonderful, Nobel Prize-winning, breakthrough thoughts that I might have.’ But I don’t do that. In fact, I don’t recommend that anybody do that, because then you’re just busy writing down your discursive thoughts in the hope that you’ll put them to work at some later time.”

Most interesting is what he says about how our thoughts, the really good ones, don’t go away. In fact, if we’re mindful, he says they come in waves, ready to greet you once again.

“We’re all geniuses of one kind or another, and I think part of it is that we don’t recognize it, and other people never recognize it, and we often don’t get a chance to put it into any kind of play—our own unique aspect of genius. But when you’re watching your mind in this kind of way, it rapidly becomes apparent because things recur. So interesting thoughts come back over and over and over again, which is one reason you don’t need to write them down or remember them because they have a way of nurturing you in a certain way.”

I once worried while practicing yoga, meditating, biking or showering that I would lose my ideas forever. This puts me at ease. Looks like it’s one less thing we writers need to worry about.

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