Thursday, April 20, 2017

11 Great Reasons to be a Writer



I thought I'd outline some of the perks associated with living the writer's life. Most are obvious but others less so.

1. You Get Your Name in Print
The career author knows that many people spend their entire lives trying to get to this, stage one, of the writer's life. 

When it happens, you may never take it for granted. 

Having your words in print is like an endorsement of who you are. Somehow you matter. 

And that feels good.

2. You Get Recognition

There are two aspects of this. 

One, you get people coming up to you at the mall who know your name - which is kind of weird the first time it happens - actually every time it happens because it's easy to forget you're 'known' through your writing, even if you're not very famous.

Two, you go places or call people and they say, "Yeah, I know you," and it takes you by surprise. 

It's like having a flag-bearing messenger running ahead of you, breathlessly telling people you're coming, so they'd better get ready to listen to you.

3. You Get Respect

You come up with an idea and you write it down, send it out, and then, amazingly, you are taken seriously. 

This in itself is wonderful, especially because for years before you were published. nobody took the blindest bit of notice of you.

Of course you still get rejections but when you've had a little success, people like producers, agents, and publishers listen for longer, they consider your ideas, they let you pitch and don't treat you with total contempt. 

4. You Get Royalties

Those checks come in and of course, it's never enough. Okay, so you don't have to go back to real work but, consider this:

Rich artists will attest that, the bigger the royalty check, the less it's about you.

A certain responsibility comes with success. You're not just doing what you do for yourself. 

There are all those companies, administrators, marketing people, and retailers who are relying on your creativity to pay their wages. 

Plus there's the duty of integrity you owe to your readers.

Scary thought, especially if you only went into the game for yourself.

5. You Get to Sleep In

Can't beat it with a stick.

We all get those times when we wake up and we don't feel like facing the world. 

When you're a successful writer - as in you get paid for what you do - it's okay to indulge in luxuries like complete indolence, once in a while. Bliss.

6. You've Got No Limits or Boundaries

You get to define your own priorities. You get to plan your day, your week, your year, your life.

If you want to spend a couple of months working on a novel, you can. If you want to develop a movie project idea, you can. If you want to do nothing for a couple of weeks, you can do that instead.

Of course, there are always commercial considerations. 

You have to be sure that some money will come from your ideas, eventually - 

in the short or long term - but when you work on them, well, that's your decision, your call.

Nice work if you can get it, as they say.

7. You Get to Speak

People want you to talk, to come to their venues and say something. This is very flattering, especially if they say they don't care what you talk about, as long as you're there.

You get to talk about yourself and answer questions nice people ask you. It's good to get these opportunities because it's like, what else was I going to do?

And you're going to pay me too? Wow, that's pretty cool.

8. You Get Presents

It's a phenomenon that goes back to the beginning of time: people give gifts to those they like or revere. 

It's a show of respect. It can be very disarming, especially when it's unexpected, which is pretty much all the time.

9. You Get Fans

It's weird when people quote your own lines back at you, especially when you hadn't thought those particular lines were important.

People tell you they've been following your career, that they have read everything you've written, that they are your number one fans. 

You smile, mumble nice things, and you hope you won't let them down.

10. You Get Holidays

At last, a perk that is serious fun.

People often assume that when you're a writer you're already living one long holiday, so why would you need to go away? 

But just because you're doing something toward your career every day doesn't mean you don't feel the need to get away sometimes.

The best thing is that, within reason, you can just go, whenever and wherever you like. 

However, you'll usually find an excuse to make it work related too, because:

11. You Get To Claim It All Against Tax

If you're an artist, an actor, or a writer, then it's assumed you're being an artist, an actor, or a writer 24/7. 

Therefore, everything you think and feel and do is about your work. 

Therefore, everything you buy and spend money on is, at least in theory, tax deductible. Bills, clothes, computers, books, DVDs, yep, even research based holidays...

Conclusion

I hope the above reasons will inspire you to keep pursuing the writer's life.

If you're in any doubt as to your ability to compete, take a good look at the people you regard as rich and successful. 

What have they got that you haven't?

Talent? Good looks? Better luck?

Nah, success in any arena all about commitment, persistence - and the 
courage to believe in yourself.

I hope this helps.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Motivation and Writing


My first attempt at writing a nonfiction book is still, to this day, unfinished. 

Ironic because it was a book about motivation - and how to overcome obstacles to the creative process!

Of course many of the ideas the book was going to explore I have used in the 30 or so books I've written since - but I sometimes find it odd that my first book was basically on a back-burner for about a decade while I struggled to find time to write it.

I read the other day that procrastination is not really based on a fear of accomplishment, but on a fear of beginning. And not just beginning in the sense of starting out, making notes and thinking - but really starting, as in being involved in creating.

That resonated with me because I realized that's why I never got around to writing that first book. 

All the time I wasn't starting and being involved in the book, I had no reason to pursue its completion.

Of course, for years I believed the book should be written. I even conned myself into believing I was, in some sense, actually writing it because it occupied my mind so often. But clearly the more I thought about the book, the less I wrote.

As I've said often - since - thinking is not writing. Especially thinking about writing is definitely not writing! 

But thinking about writing is a trap that many would-be writers fall into - a pit of self doubt and delusion that requires endless self debate with no real constructive purpose.

After all, when you're in a pit, you need to construct a ladder, not just think about methods of freeing yourself!

I guess that's one of the reasons why I developed the Easy Way to Write philosophy. That is, when you write, don't think

Don't analyze what you're doing because it doesn't achieve anything useful. It just slows you down.

Each moment you stop to stare into space or formulate a new thought is time away from the task. 

And as comforting or inspiring as those thinking moments might be, they're largely self-indulgent and irrelevant to the task at hand.

Because no amount of thinking and planning helps to get the job done - unless you're actively involved in the doing.

Yes - if you get stuck, take time out to break down your project into chunks - minutely if necessary. 

Tiny pieces, if that's what you need to do - and in writing. But then get back to tackling those pieces - quickly and with purpose. Don't stop to think for too long.

Serial procrastination is also a product of perfectionism - the inability to create unless everything goes smoothly and is notably brilliant from start to finish.

Any professional artist will tell you that the illusion of perfection is just that - an illusion, created by years of trial and error and constant activity.

Leonardo kept the canvas of the Mona Lisa with him all his life. To him, it was never finished. He added to it, changed it over and over, forever infusing it with the perfection it's now famous for.

But with his other works, he was on the clock. He finished them - or let them be - because there was an end date - a time beyond which he wasn't going to get paid. The deadline necessitated the work's completion.

And so it is with you, my friend. You must work on a project to its completion but have the courage to say "it's done now." 

It may not be perfect but it's time to move on. This is a skill in itself that can take years to learn - but one that all artists must contend with and accept.

The fact is, the more importance you attach to a project, the harder it will be to begin it. And this is something you don't want to feed or escalate. Because the greater the challenge in your mind, the more excuses you can find not to start.

You'll never really be ready...

... and that's the best place to begin. You learn by doing, not by preparing but by being involved.

Nowadays, when I finish projects, I often look back and can't really fathom where all that effort and inspiration came from. It's like the finished product was created by someone else - someone with a skill base and motivational standpoint separate from my own.

To me, I'm still the guy who couldn't get his first book written!

I think this is the way it works.

You don't really go from a wannabe to a success, as if they're two different entities. You're still both. 

It's just that one - the doer - fills more of your time than previously.

All you have to know is that harnessing success is about doing, being active, taking steps - no matter how small - on a consistent basis.

Don't beat yourself up about your faults.

Be aware of your faults, see them as positives. Use your issues as motivation. Embrace your foibles. 

Accept your limitations. Gather strength from your insecurities - everyone has them, even the great and good.

But most of all, take action.

Write. Be involved in your writing.

We all make mistakes. They're part of the creative process.

As someone famous once said, the actor Robert Mitchum in case you were interested, it's why there's an eraser on the end of a pencil - and a backspace/delete on a keyboard for that matter.

Don't be afraid to begin. You can always delete what you've done and start again. I do that all the time these days - it's part of the process. 

See the ability to edit, clean up, delete and polish as your best friend. The part of your nature that helps you the most. But remember that without activity, there's nothing to perfect.

Things don't create themselves. We do.

Intention is only useful when there's matter to rearrange. And no amount of thought changes anything until activity kicks in.

As Nike says, just do it!

And as Rob says:

Keep Writing.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reading Other Author's Books (and other depressing things)


For a struggling author, there's nothing worse than reading a great book.

Finding an author who is patently superior to yourself can be a most humbling and depressing experience.

What more confirmation do you need that you'll probably never reach the heights - or, it seems, even be able to put a decent sentence together without embarrassment.

One such superior author is Denis Lehane.

I just spent the last week reading Mystic River - a work of fiction so profoundly brilliant I decided at one point I was never going to write another word.

Why should I bother when this guy has got the whole writing thing down pat...

I mean, not only is the characterization consistently awesome, the plot is multi-layered, complex yet simple in all the right ways. It's also superbly written with an understanding the English language that seems effortless and divinely inspired by equal measure.

I've read interviews with Lehane and he's no slouch when it comes to writing. He's studied it profusely, endlessly debated its merits with writer friends and made a determined effort to be the best he can be - something he is clearly achieving.

All well and good. Just as it should be. But where does that leave the rest of us?

What's clear to me is that brilliance at writing is not a fluke.

It takes a heap of work and a keen, vigilant intelligence to be able to write well. Something that the majority of wannabe writers are blissfully unaware of - or refuse to accept.

Just as well sometimes. Ignorance is strength. Naivete a boon.

I guess that's the thing. If we knew how hard something was going to be before we started, we'd never start anything.

Come to think of it I know lots of people who never do anything because they guess (rightly) it's going to be really hard!

We actually need to believe some things will be easy - or that we can rise to the challenge, otherwise nothing would ever get done.

Everything would end up in the infamous "too hard basket" as they say in Australia.
Having been suitably chastised by reading Lehane - who seems to be saying to me: Give it up, lad, I've got this covered, I went in search of more novels - from the bargain bin of course.

Glad I did.

I found a couple of authors I'd never heard of. Both of whom had written about eight novels apiece and, according to their blurb, wrote full time.

Though the writing was not on Lehane's par, it was at least encouraging. Because, reading them I immediately felt happy. 

I had that nice reassuring sense of: I can do better than this. 

This is the way I want to feel when I read other people's novels!

Because it gives me a reason to write myself!

I won't name these other authors - because I don't want to seem mean spirited. Besides, they're doing well as far as I can tell. They write full time. They have agents, pets, and loving families.

They, I assume, live idyllic lives getting paid to write novels that people are actually buying and reading. And despite living this enviable lifestyle they have the added advantage of being completely anonymous in the eyes of the public.

They don't need to worry about being recognized or mobbed in the street - and they can live with the calm satisfaction of knowing they got the dream.

Plus, if they thought about it, they should know that they're inspiring new authors everywhere - to emulate their success and know that it's entirely possible to make a good living as a writer without necessarily being a household name.

And without necessarily being the greatest writer in the world.

Wonderful.

I feel another novel coming along already!

The Easy Way to Write

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