Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The 3rd Commandment for Writers

Everyone agrees that stealing is wrong, except for maybe those who do it and try to get away with it. Even still, deep down, they know. But then there’s Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. I’m not going to debate the philosophy of Robin Hood today though. At any rate, I digress.

We already established that if you write, you are a writer. Today, I’m sharing the third commandment for writers with you: Thou shalt not take books from the library and never return them. 

We borrow library books so that we can read and not have to buy the books.

Borrowed Library Books

As writers, we love the library! We love bookstores and anything to do with books. To borrow a book - or more often than not, a stack of books - from the library means that we get to read lots of extra cool words for a few weeks. And then return them. 

We borrow library books so that we can read and not have to buy the books. Maybe we like the book so much that we end up buying it after all. The library allows us to preview potential purchases, if you will. But not returning the books and paying compounded late fees over several months is not the same thing as buying them. If you want to buy the books, then order them online or go to a bookstore. And absolutely… return the library books!

Borrowed Words

On the other hand, as writers, “stealing” is the best form of flattery, right? What I mean by this is that writers often “copy” the writers we admire and hope to emulate. Of course, we always want to develop our own voice. So definitely never plagiarize. 

You can always use the books you borrow from the library to incorporate into a writing exercise. That’s basically what I did on a very scaled-down version with the Ten Commandments. I took “thou shalt not steal” and turned it into “thou shalt not take books from the library and never return them.” Simply use a paragraph you love and substitute different nouns, verbs, adjectives in place of the current ones and you just mentored an existing writing text! 

Using another author's words as a mentor text is not the same thing as comparing yourself to other writers. Be sure you don't fall into that trap.

QUESTION: Let me know if you’re a library book thief. I promise I won’t report you to the authorities. Have you ever NOT returned a library book - and not because you lost it? Let me know in the comments! Keep on keepin' on... 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Writing Commandment #2

Some people think writing rules are “bad”. But these writing rules are different. It’s more of a creed to live by. Writing mantras to inspire you to be your best self.

If You Write, You Are a Writer

What does it even mean to be a writer? The simplest definition is that if you write, you are a writer. Same goes for running. If you run, you’re a runner. You don’t have to be a sponsored Olympic athlete to call yourself a runner. Runner isn’t based on speed either. If your feet are in the air at the same time, you’re a runner. So what about writing?

If you’re not published, are you still considered a writer? If you don’t have a medical degree, can you call yourself a doctor? And then there’s the whole “writer vs. author” debate. Authors are published. Some say that authors are writers who HAVE WRITTEN. But that writers continue to write. So some prefer “writer” and others prefer “author”.

Personally, I believe that all authors are also writers, especially if you continue to write. If you stick to the “have written” definition, then a writer who only published one or two books may be an author, but not a writer.

No matter how you look at it, if you write, you’re a writer.

How to Write More

Did you see my post about how to do things when you don’t feel like it? My two best tips for how to write more are to:
  1. Put it on your calendar. 
  2. Think about your story.
Put it on your calendar. It could be 10 minutes a day, or 1 hour a week. Either way, when you look at the “event” on your calendar, you’ll get more excited about and look forward to it. Schedule your writing time and it will help you to actually write more often and more consistently.

Think about your story. Talk about your story. Get excited about writing the next scene. When you have the next scene in mind, it’s easier to get started and even to write more during that writing session.

Dream Big

Lastly, it’s fun to dream big. As a writer, you might dream of writing like another author (or not), being a NYT Bestselling Author, or getting a traditional publishing deal. Maybe you want your next book to be a bigger advance. Maybe you dream of being on TV. Or teaching a workshop. Or doing school visits. There are LOTS of ways to dream about success as a writer.

Whatever success looks like for you as a writer, dream big! Start by finishing your manuscript. Then dream as big as you can and write it down. Talk about it. See yourself in the future living your dreams. Because you are a writer and you deserve it!

QUESTION: What's one of YOUR big writing dreams? I'd love for you to share it with me! Let me know in the comments.

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, August 3, 2020

10 Commandments for the Writer

So you’re a writer, huh? Over the years, I have developed a set of rules to follow to help you keep your head in the game. Because if you know anything at all about writing, you know that it’s easy to STOP. And if you stop writing?

Well… you’re not being a very good writer. Today, I share with you the first commandment for writers.

Writer Commandment #1

The first rule of writing is this: Thou shalt have no comparisons of thyself to other writers. A story is a story.

Basically, you’re the only writer you need to worry about. Yes, studying the “greats” is a good way to learn the writing craft, but be careful to not compare your worst to their best. We all have to start somewhere.

The Comparison Trap

Keep your eyes on your own paper. The only person you should compare yourself against is the person you were yesterday.

I know it’s easy to read a book and say, “I wish I could write like that.” Or to see another writer’s success and say, “Wow. I wonder when it’s going to be my turn to get published.”

But that’s not healthy. Here’s why.

Comparing yourself to others takes your eyes off your own goals. If you want to reach your goals, if you have to keep your eye on the prize.

When you start comparing where you’re at to where others are at, it can make you feel bad about how you’re doing.

You can always find other writers who seem to be happier, faster, more productive, more successful, etc. When you fall into the comparison trap, you can become envious, have low self-confidence, or even get depressed.

When you look inward, you’ll be able to focus on yourself, your own writing, your own journey, and begin to see your own progress.

So how do you stop comparing yourself to the writer next door?

Learn how to Obey the First Rule of Writing

When you can get past not comparing yourself to other writers, your confidence will begin to soar. Follow these 7 tips to stop this bad habit before it begins.

  1. Work on your own craft.
  2. Accept where you are.
  3. Love your past.
  4. Be grateful for what you have.
  5. Progress, not perfection.
  6. Rewrite your own story.
  7. Turn comparison into inspiration.

Working on your own craft is one way to accept where you are. You’ll never reach your goals if you don’t learn the skills. So practice the writing craft to hone your skills.

Accept the fact that all writers are on the same journey. There is room for all of us. One publication doesn’t make you successful. And it definitely doesn’t guarantee a second one.

When you can love your past and find the power of seeing who you are and all you’ve experienced and learned, you will be much happier as you continue your writing journey.

Gratitude is so much more powerful than most people think. Being grateful for what you have invites more things into your life to be grateful for. This is one of the best ways to ward of the green monster of envy.

Your journey is all about progress, not perfection. Remember to enjoy the journey and to only compare yourself to where you’ve been. When you do that, you’ll see progress every single time. The journey is the reward. And when you reach “The End” it will be all the sweeter.

If the stories you’re telling yourself are that you’re not good enough or that you’ll never make it as a writer, then I invite you to rewrite those stories right now. Be sure to include feelings of strength, empowerment, confidence, optimism, hope, joy, and plenty of progress.

Lastly, you can always turn comparison into inspiration. Remember that other writers’ triumphs didn’t happen overnight. So don’t compare yourself in the beginning or middle stages to their amazing achievements. Let it inspire you! Remember that they had to start at the beginning too. It should be a great reminder for what’s possible for you too.

We all have to start somewhere, just not with a comparison. So give yourself a pep talk and be your own best cheerleader.

“Thou shalt have no comparisons of thyself to other writers.”

QUESTION: What's one accomplishment you've made as a writer? Let's share our collective progress in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...



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