A great post landed in my Twitter account today—a must share with fellow restless writers.
From tweet to post: 21 Tips for Writers by Australian writer, Jodi Cleghorn (inspired by: Emerging Writers Festival, Melbourne) is a terrific read, and even better chuckle. Jodi believes that “writing is writing—whether you’re a song writer, a journalist, an academic, a poet, a film maker or a novelist – and there are commonalities to the creative process of writing and how to make it work for you.”
Check it out: 21 Tips for Writers
- Defend your work and keep your creative dignity – learn to say no/no way/go f*ck yourself – because no one else will stand up for your work.
- Don’t show your work to family and friends – you will erroneously become attached to what they think is brilliant – which in fact is likely to be absolute crap.
- Back yourself – don’t ask for permission to do what you want to do.
- Look after yourself – writing will ruin your health – so take care – consider writing standing up (apparently Hemingway did this) and making use of pen and paper rather than chaining yourself to a computer.
- Persevere – your yell is someone else’s whisper and whispers are pervasive, it will get heard – work on several projects – this keeps you energised and working creatively even when one project isn’t firing.
- Get to know your process – work out when and where you work best and do it your own way – try to write every day, even if just for a few minutes and carry a note-book with you so ideas don’t escape you.
- Don’t hold back and don’t protect yourself – say things no one else has said before – turn off the inner critic/editor.
- Cultivate a community of writers – writing can be a lonely enterprise, but it doesn’t need to be – other writers understand where you are, what you’re thinking and feeling.
- Build an audience online – utilise a website or a blog to connect with readers – capture them through a mailing list – don’t be afraid to give away free stuff.
- Go out and live your life – do not allow yourself to become stuck in a hole of your own creativity – especially when you’re creatively blocked – being in the real world is the best antidote.
Okay, seriously I can count. This is only 10. For the remaining 11 visit Write Anything. And while you’re there, check out their weekly #fictionfriday challenge.
How can you incorporate these tips into YOUR writing life?
Today is the birthday of the great American poet Walt Whitman. Controversial from the moment he self-published Leaves of Grass, Whitman has been maligned as immoral, perverse, sacrilegious and decadent. But he is also praised as the poet of democracy, the father of free verse, and possibly the first Beat poet.
I like to think of him as one of the original restless writers—in addition to writing, he made a living as a typesetter, a clerk, a teacher, a journalist and a nurse. “Do I contradict myself?” he once said. “Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
From O Me! O life!
Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.
Some cool book news for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn fans.
Mark Twain’s autobiography is finally going to be published 100 years after his death. The autobiography has been kept locked in a vault at the University of California at Berkeley since his death 1910. Twain’s autobiography will arrive in bookstores in November.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
You can read more about Mark Twain here on the official website from the Estate of Mark Twain.
We writers have been meeting monthly for almost a year now. Our meetings can take many forms, in various locations (this month: my place), but there are certain constants: calorific snacks (I decided to test out cumin jelly and brie on baguettes); copious amounts of booze (white sangria) and tantalizing conversation that in no way relates to writing.
It’s typical coffee klatch fare – work, husbands, kids (mine) and pets (theirs…although the similarities are surprising). We do eventually get down to business, going over the pages we’ve each submitted in advance, and then the meeting is finito.
I’ve come to rely on these meetings for more than the input and suggestions provided by my partners, although they’ve proven invaluable. It’s the camaraderie, encouragement and inspiration I get from being with other writers that I value most. We all tackle different genres with diverse styles, but the end goals are the same…to be inspired… to be published…to be writers.
Working towards these aspirations while sipping sangria and eating my weight in cheese is simply a bonus.
Sometime during the week of May 24, 2010, our web address is changing to www.restlesswriters.ca.
Nothing else besides our URL is changing, except for the fact that our writing group is newly energized to share our experiences writing and living in our little corner of the GTA.
If you’re a regular reader, please change your bookmarks to our new address next week. (Visitors using the old address will be redirected for a while.) The change might take a few days to go through the WordPress system.
If you’ve just stumbled upon the Restless Writers’ blog, welcome, and we hope you’ll be back soon. Why not drop us a line, and let us know how the writing life is going for you? We’d love to hear from you.
Have we mentioned how much we appreciate you stopping by?
“Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it’s the readers who build that world in their own minds.” Ursula Le Guin
Call it passion. Call it purpose. Call it Starbucks.
For me, inspiration comes from the same place that dreams come from. It’s a place beyond understanding, knowing, and controlling. It intersects all aspects of life, particularly my writing world.
Inspiration arrives in dreams, in music, in conversations, and even in memories. Thoughts gather subconsciously until they manifest into words. I never can predict where my ideas will come from and how long they will stay with me. So, with that, I offer the following advice to writers.
10 Tips on embracing inspiration when it strikes:
- Spend time with your species (artists are influenced by other artists).
- Listen. Inspiration surrounds you. Eavesdrop on life (politely).
- Appreciate everything—the beauty in all things, moments & experiences.
- Be wild. Stop making sense and start making nonsense!
- Do not try to force inspiration (forced inspiration is like caffeine—it pumps you up, then you crash).
- Stop hiding (we writers like to hide). Interaction with other human beings is an important source of inspiration.
- Be open to change. And never lose your sense of curiosity.
- Follow your bliss. Do what you love in some form or another.
- Feel your pain. Sing the blues.
- Be yourself.
This post was inspired by a recent writing workshop that we, Restless Writers, attended as part of the Quick Brown Fox series. Workshops are simply one way to inspire and inject life in your writing project(s)—and sometimes, they can even put your manuscript into the hands of a willing agent!
We’re all seeking some form of inspiration in our lives—to feel alive, energized, engaged in meaningful creative activity. What inspires you and where does it come from? We’d love to hear from you.
Participants at yesterday’s “How to Get Published” seminar in Hamilton, led by Brian Henry, heard some advice about how to move from writer to author. Brian said that many agents and publishers are more likely to read your submission if you’ve got proven writing skills—and that means publishing credits. Up your odds of acceptance by writing and publishing articles and short stories.
There are more and more markets for short story writers popping up every day. And you needn’t look any further than your local newspaper.
I’ve been enjoying the winning stories from the Toronto Star’s Short Story Contest for the past three weeks (it sounds like it took a long time, but the Star published one per Sunday). Today’s Sunday Star featured the first place entry, “Take One Down” by Zach Leger. Congratulations to Zach. GTA-area short-story writers should consider entering this contest next year. Your short piece could net you the $5,000 first prize plus the tens of thousands of readers who pick up the Star.
For more contests and markets for your short pieces (and news about future seminars), visit Brian’s blog, Quick Brown Fox.
Are you a first-time novelist, ready to shop your book around to publishers?
Geoff Pevere, the books columnist with the Toronto Star, has some advice for you: educate yourself about the industry, and be willing to look at your own writing critically.
“Take another look at that pile of paper,” Pevere says. “If you can say to yourself, with complete and ruthless honesty, that it’s a good pile that someone out there is definitely going to think it’s as good as you do, then it may be time to let it loose in the world.”