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SUCCESS IN WRITING December 28, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in writing.

     What defines success in writing? This is a loaded question and there are probably as many different answers as there are people willing to shout one out. But every single one of them will be forced to agree on one particular reply: if you finish a piece, you have achieved success. They are legions of people who say they are going to write a book, screenplay or novel some day, but many never even sit down to write the first word. Others may start, but that’s as far as they get. The successful ones choose a piece and stick with it. They work it and rework it and rethink it and, eventually, finish it — they succeed.
     When I facilitated a library writers’ group, there were always new members who came in and said they wanted to be a writer, and would proceed to pull out their work. Then I started my familiar lecture and told them they were a writer. If you write, you are a writer. Being published, or being recognized by certain people or groups as a writer does not make you a writer — writing does. 

     How you write also does not define you, because we all use different creative methods. I always begin my novels the same way. I get that big brainstorm and start writing scenes and dialogue until I think I know my characters, and then I begin the book. I tried, for a while, to start with the one sentence and then one paragraph pitch, but it didn’t work for me. It isn’t until I am immersed in the book that I fully realize what I want to say. I spent a couple of weeks trying to write my pitch before the book. I began thinking up concept after concept and trying to define them in one sentence. I wound up with an impressive stack of scrap paper, but I wasn’t getting any work done. So I had to put on blinders to those professionals who insist you can’t be guided along a piece until you know exactly what you want to express, and allow myself to employ my “groping” method. And then I began to get a lot of work done. A book finally emerged and began to take shape, and now I am 25,000 words into it, and very excited by its message and characters.

     I figure, if we think that only published writers deserve the title of writer, then all the world’s first-time authors weren’t writers when they wrote their book. Whoa! Pretty profound, huh? But if you allow yourself to view it that way, you’ll see a writer the next time you take a potty break from your book and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror while you’re washing your hands.

     Keep on writing — and loving every minute of it!



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