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Monday, December 31, 2007

Writing Resolutions That Stick

Probably the most consistent problem I'm asked to help with is sustaining the momentum required to finish writing projects.

Writing a book is apparently the secret wish of 90% of the population - as though writing a book somehow validates us as humans - and perhaps makes us a little more immortal. But only around 5% of people will ever rise to the challenge - and even they will falter more times than not. Of these would be writers, less than one percent will ever finish their books - and just to be depressing now, only a handful of that one percent will ever be published.

Faced with this punishing reality, how do you find the strength to carry on writing?
Let me answer by telling you a story.

Once, a very long time ago, I asked a practising motivational guru how I could become rich. I say it was a long time ago because in those days I was very cynical and I asked the question as more of a challenge than a query. The guru gave me a quick answer:

"Want to be rich."

I gave a dismissive grunt at this and asked, "Yeah, so what if that doesn't work?"
She smiled when she said, "Then you didn't want it enough."

At the time I took this to be a cop out. I congratulated myself, smugly, that I had exposed her phoniness.

Now, of course, I know better.

Because this is precisely how life works. In order to make anything happen, to get things done, achieve results, you have to want them enough.

But, but, but...

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Knowing this isn't getting you any closer to the 'how'.

How do you get yourself to want something that much? I mean writing success is one thing - but all that work! Isn't there an easier way?

Well, yeah there is actually - and all it requires is a little shift in your perspective - and a whole lotta dreamin'...

Now, I could list a bunch of 'things to do' to help you create a little writing success but - that can wait for another day. Today, because it's New Year's Day - I want to tell you about the single most important aspect of success.

Today's the Day

Success is not a place or a time or a circumstance.

It's a state of mind.

And it's happening right now - all you have to do is to reach out and grasp it.

Take a few moments - actually the rest of the day - and imagine that you are rich, fulfilled and able to do anything you want, whenever you like.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now ask yourself: How would you feel? What would you do?

This is the shift in perspective I was talking about. You're never going to help your subconscious deal with writing success unless it believes it's already happening. Because it's only when success is actually happening to you that you will begin to make the right decisions for your writing career and enable yourself to perpetuate the writing life you want.

Writing for a living requires commitment. Some things will work out, some things will not. That's the reality. You can't wait for the good times and then expect everything to be fine from then on. It doesn't work like that.

Achieve Your Writing Goals This Year

You need to decide, right now, New Year's Day, that you are a writer - and will continue to be a writer from this moment on. And while you're about it, tell yourself you're already a successful writer - dwell on it, dream on it, and make it real.

Because it's believing that you are already a good and talented writer that will get you to finish writing projects.

I know this is true because, no matter the actual talent of the writer, it's the one's that believe in themselves and dream about the writer's life that make it. Every time.

I also know because a long time before we had houses and cars and money, Robyn and I behaved in this way. Though we may have been naive and perhaps not that good to begin with, we never stopped believing we were meant to be successful writers.

And believing made it so.

Believing made us write more, made us read more, made us study writing, made us take courses and keep on learning as much as we could.

We still do it today because writing is a lifelong education. You don't just wake up one day and say "Ah, now I get it, now I know enough."

Writing is a way of life and it's when you immerse yourself in it totally that you gain the necessary resolve to finish things - and then get them out there and published!

To Your Success in 2008.

Keep writing!

Rob@easywaytowrite.com
Creating Better Writers
http://easywaytowrite.com/

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to Achieve Writing Success in 2008

Here's the cute non-reality that most people generally believe:

Writing is more than a skill, a pastime or a way of making a living. It is a vocation - like being a nurse or missionary. In order to commit yourself, and impress those that would read your work, you have to want to do it for nothing.

Indeed this is how many of us become writers - it's something we feel compelled to do, whether asked to, required to or not!

Certainly I've noticed that when you first start dealing with publishers, your enthusiasm, commitment and talent are of primary concern. Any talk of money too early in the process will see you ostracized very quickly. You're supposed to want to write for yourself - for Art's sake - first.

I guess it's about trust. The people that would help us get our work seen - in other words, published - need to be sure that our motives are sincere. That we write for some purpose other than just to make money.

Tosh!

Robyn and I have discussed this aspect of the writer's dilemma many times - and we have a counter argument.

Writing is time consuming, hard work sometimes and almost impossible to sustain a good living at for most writers - 80% make less than $10,000 a year according to the last survey I read.

It's clear that if writers don't get paid, they can't continue writing - at least not without considering poverty as a career choice.

Given the vast millions that publishers make, I've always thought that they should pay new writers to submit work - but of course that's never going to happen! There's simply too many would be writers who are willing to chance it based on nothing more than a vague possibility of success.

But This is To Your Advantage

Because for every one hundred writers that try and fail - either through discouragement, the apathy of publishers, or the sheer force of having to pay the rent - there's one, like you, that ain't givin' up!

But how do you sustain the momentum - the will and the courage to continue?

Easy. Get obsessed. Dream about your writing success. Fantasize about it every moment of every day. Create a compulsion within yourself that cannot be undermined.
Be insane. Be illogical. Be unrealistic!

Because...

Over the years I've noticed something very telling. The writers with the most talent don't always rise to the top. But the writers who don't stop and won't take no for an answer, and just keep going regardless of criticism and bad experiences, are the ones that make it - every time.

Reflection Strengthens Determination

Actively thinking about your writing is not just about trying to improve or responding positively to feedback, it's about organizing your thoughts and reactions to to what people say about your writing. You can take criticism well or badly. It can fire you up or destroy you. It's your choice.

I used to think I wasn't good enough to be a professional writer - and my lack of success reinforced that view.

But I had it all wrong. What I failed to understand at the time was that, if you just keep going, respond to feedback and keep plugging away at new projects, you become good enough over time.

Your technique may improve. You may begin to write more effectively or tell better stories. But none of that matters if you don't have the single minded drive to overcome the apparent obstacles to your success.

It's too easy to get discouraged. The system is designed for that to happen - to weed out those that are not determined.

Take heart, if you are fully commited, there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome, there are no barriers - real or imagined - that you cannot triumph over.

In the words of a very old cliche - and things become cliches, remember, usually because they're true:

"There is nothing you can't do once you set your mind to it."

So, in 2008 - go for it!

The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!