Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Turning your Writing Dream into Reality

What a beautiful quote by George Bernard Shaw (see photo). I think we all have the capability of creating, but I ask myself, do we have the time we need in order to create? I know that's not my case right now. That's why I want to share a guest post by Pastor Daniel Darling, author of iFaith: Connecting With God in the 21st Century, (Jan. 2011). He says that your writing journey can start with four basic steps:

My advice to the emerging writer—is to start writing. If you’re highly disciplined, start blogging on a schedule. Just crank out stuff and keep writing. If you’re undisciplined as I am, sign up for deadlines in any way you can. Point is: You get better at writing by writing.

I once received a heavily marked manuscript back from a book editor with the advice, “Dan, you’re not Hemingway.” She meant that my manuscript needed polishing. She was right. If you want to succeed and grow as a writer, you need to develop a thick skin. Don’t hang onto every turn of phrase as if it cannot be touched. Instead, open your work up to those who can take it from good to great: a healthy stable of critics. If you want to step your work up to the next level, seek out professional-level critiquing. Your mom’s nice comments may boost your confidence, but they won’t help your manuscript.

In the movie, Finding Forrester, Sean Connery’s character gives a piece of advice to his young writing protégé. “Write the first draft with your heart, the rest of the drafts with your head.” Many times I sit in front of a blank screen, a deadline looming, time short. I have a wonderful outline, but the words for that first chapter just don’t seem to come. Or they come and are horrific. But I push ahead and get them on paper. I write until I can’t write anymore.

Then I close the computer thinking, What an idiot, why do I think I can write? But then I leave the manuscript for a few days, maybe a week. When I come back to it, I find hope again. Every major project goes through this same process, without exception. I have learned to write in short bursts. Every day, as I sit to write, I revisit a chunk from the day before, editing that first draft. I move this way through a book until completion. This write-edit-write method serves me well, ensuring that every chapter is rewritten to satisfaction.

Sometimes you need to close the laptop and get out into the real world. That means you move beyond your project and refill the well of your soul with good music, entertainment, relationships, and good literature. What I mean is that to be a good writer, you, the person behind the words, must grow. I’m guessing, if you’re reading this blog, you’re well-tuned to the craft of writing through magazines, blogs, conferences, and books. That is good. Writers must constantly sharpen their skills.

But you might consider refilling your well by enriching the other parts of your life. I’ve that my writing always improves when I am reading well in a variety of disciplines: including novels, classics, spirituality, self-help, biographies, and more. Often a good movie or timely sermon will spark new levels of creativity. You also need rest. You are not superhuman. You’re human. When you’re brain is shut down, forget your project and enjoy your life. The well from which you draw your words must remain full.

I agree with him 100%. I especially like points #1 and #3. My good friend and fellow writer, Kelly Howarth at One Word Pundit, always tells me to write from the heart. She says she can tell when I've written a story or a post from the heart. Thank you, Kelly for your advice!

How about you? Have you already turned your writing dream into reality?


  1. Point is: You get better at writing by writing...and it takes time.

    Great advice.

  2. Yes! When I wrote my first novel with no thoughts of publication. I just wrote for me, for my personal satisfaction, for accomplishing something I have been wanting to do for years, for satisfying my need to create, and for doing something other than changing diapers! It's hard to recapture that feeling sometimes, (not the diaper-changing) but rather the innocence of first thoughts, first dreams..

    Thanks for this article!

  3. Hi Donna,
    Nice to see you around here ;)And yes, if you don't write you won't get better at it.

    Hi Laura,
    Sometimes when we least expect it, creativity creeps in and it won't leave us alone. It's a great thing that you started your first novel as a "personal satisfaction"...well, look at your accomplishment, it got published! And yes, even between diaper changing you still managed to write a beautiful novel. :)

  4. Oh wow!! Thank you for sharing these wonderful pearls of wisdom by Pastor Daniel Darling!! I love these so much I am printing it out to keep with me and to re-read in my dark days of doubt and insecurities about my writing. Thank you so much Claudia - I started January abit lost with my creative writing but each time I visit a blog with lots of good advice I feel a little comforted!! But I think these steps are so practical and true and really do-able!!! Take care

  5. Aw, thanks for the mention, Claudia! We write when we have something compelling to say. It's to still ourselves long enough to hear that voice. In this way, writing can be a meditative process whereby we block out all the self-talk and just listen to ourselves. Thank you for another insightful post! :-))

  6. Dear Old Kitty,
    thank you for your kind words, you're so sweet. I am so happy to hear you found these tips helpful to even print them out for self-doubting days ;) DO NOT feel bad you have those days, we all do. Believe me, I have days that I don't feel like writing, I also have days where I want to give up my craft...but this only tells me that I am human. We are entitled to feel blue from time to time even when it comes to writing.

    Dear Kelly,
    You're so welcome! thank you for reminding me that writing can be a meditative process. It's so easy to forget when you have another million things going through your head and they're not necessarily writing related :(
    Thanks for your support!

  7. I loved the quote, so inspirational. Great post with lots of great info.

  8. Hi Angelina,
    Thank you! Glad you liked it ;)
    See you in the blogosphere!

  9. Claudia,
    All great points. Thanks for the reminder that we're not superhuman. I tend to try too hard to do the work, and when I force myself, it comes out worse. Points 1 and 3 are especially important, too, and I promise I'm very good at #3 :)

    Thanks so much for the post. It's quite timely for me.

  10. Hi Rosie,
    Glad to hear this was a timely post for you. ;) And yes, I've been there too. That's why when I'm not feeling inspired, I take a break, otherwise my work suffers.

  11. No, I haven't turned it into reality yet, but I'll just keep at it. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's fun to see a new face.

    Have a great week!

  12. Hi Michelle,
    Perseverance pays off so keep at it, Michelle ;)
    Hope to see you here again.
    I'll be dropping by your neck of the woods ;)

  13. Thanks for setting me straight, Claudia! I knew I'd seen your face on your blog, but it doesn't show up on my blog, so I hadn't put two and two together. :)

  14. No problem, Michelle ;)
    It's hard to keep up / remember everyone's name and/or faces, phew!

  15. A timely post for me too, Claudia...I'm contemplating having a line by line edit and critique by an editor I met at a conference several years ago.

  16. Hi Sharon,
    AHHHHhhh the dreaded editing part...I'm not fond of it but as a writer I (we all)have to go through it. Don't postpone it. The longer you wait, the harder it'll be to get started. Your writing needs to be out there!!