Monday, February 16, 2015

Are You Committed to the Craft of Writing?

by Alycia Morales

NOTE: I will be sharing quotes from Jeff Goins' newest book throughout this post. The Art of Work releases in March, but for a limited time you can get a FREE copy if you {click here}.






Have you ever had one of those years when you've been working on a project and you keep hitting a brick wall? You think you've got your plot line figured out, but when you round the next corner ... WHAM! And it's back to the drawing board.

Yeah, me too. I've been working on my first novel for two years now. I thought I had it finished. I thought it might be salable. My friends loved it.

Except for one. She hated my weak female character (so did I) and would have thrown the book across the room if it wasn't in her laptop. Her final issue with it was that I had promised my reader a suspense novel and dropped

  ...the...
               ...ball...

I was so thankful for her honest feedback.

We writers are told about this thing called "thick skin." We're told we need to develop it. Here are a few reasons why:
  • We are surrounded by critics.
  • We are rejected.
  • Our pages get slayed with red ink.
  • And friends who love us tell us the hard-to-hear-it truth about our lack of skill.

The question then becomes - as Jeff Goins points out in his latest book, The Art of Work - Are you committed to the craft, or will you quit when it gets too hard?

I've spent the past few months trying to work out that suspense thread. More than once I've looked up from the screen and asked God, "Am I supposed to be writing suspense?"

I hit so many brick walls, I almost wanted to give up trying to find a plot line that would work. It seemed that every time I thought I had it figured out, I found out something else wouldn't work. I am so thankful I was simply trying to outline the story rather than writing it out. I'd have so many pages of unusable material at this point.

I have to say, I came to a very uncomfortable point in what I consider to be my calling. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to find a corner I could round and keep moving forward.

My ability alone could get me no farther. I needed a breakthrough.

And just when I thought I should try writing something else, God provided it.

I was in Target, looking at pens. Another lady entered the aisle and perused the pens as well. She pointed out an opened pack and wondered aloud why someone would open it and put it back on the shelf. I pointed out another pack someone had opened and taken one pen from before placing it back on the shelf. She mentioned how picky nurses are about their pens. I mentioned how picky writers are about their pens. She asked what I write. I mentioned a few things, including my novel.

And she asked every writer's favorite question: What's your story about?

I have always struggled with an elevator pitch for this book. For the first time in two years, the words rolled off my tongue without effort. Three simple sentences. My spirit man jumped within, celebrating a sudden breakthrough.

I was able to go home and write out a back-cover-copy-length synopsis. My plot line was now incredibly clear.

So when you're facing those brick walls in your writing career, when you've had enough criticism and rejection, and you wonder if you should give up, remember:
  • Ask yourself if you're committed to your craft. If not, it may not be your calling.
  • Take yourself beyond what you think is possible. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
  • Watch for the little things in life. They may reveal the breakthrough you've been waiting for.

Tweetables:

What do you do when you keep hitting brick walls in your plot line? {Click to Tweet} 

You must be committed to the craft of writing if you consider it your calling. {Click to Tweet}

What about you? Have you ever had to consider whether or not to keep writing? To pursue that story line? What tips do you have for pushing through those walls?

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Alycia! I'm so honored that you took the time to read the book and share this with your community. Stay committed to the craft — the world needs your art!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jeff! It's an honor to be a part of your tribe.

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  2. Great post, Alycia. I also wanted to let people know that Nan Jones is the winner of Cindy's Sproles. Congrats, Nan! :)

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  3. Seeing that I work with hundreds of writers, mostly beginning novelists, and so many experience what you mention in your insightful post, I just want to add that one of the biggest problems is writers don't know what they need help with. Or they know they are stuck and need help, but don't know there is help out there. Hiring a professional writing coach/mentor can get you quickly to the heart of your writing problems. Just as a personal trainer can spot what an athlete is weak in and has just the right exercises to help the athlete overcome those issues, a writing mentor has the experience and know-how to spot exactly what is wrong with a story and can give help and training to aid the writer to work through it with just the right tools and approach. I've seen countless clients of mine who've come to me with a train wreck of a novel (and some have spent years trying to write it, or worse, pitch it to agents) and after getting the proper help have create a magnificent best seller they are proud of. The best thing is the skills and insights you get about your writing with a coach is you become a better writer, so that all your subsequent books are so much better. Many of those same clients have gone on to write numerous books, and with each book, they get better and better as writers.

    So, I would encourage writers to hire help! Why waste years of your life struggling in despair and confusion. Sure, your coach may tell you you really need to slow down, take some classes, study books, and apply what you learn for a long time before tackling something as complex as a novel. But that might be just the advice you need!

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