Quote Me

December 24, 2007 at 9:08 am | Posted in inspiration, Jessica, motivation, writing | 2 Comments
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Well, here we are in the last full week of December and I can hardly believe that another year is nearly over. The last half of 2007 was as productive a writing time for me as I’ve ever had, so it’s with that intention that I offer up this post with the hope to carry the writing momentum into an even more productive 2008.

This post was also in part prompted by an interview I recently read where one writer asked another writer about the best writing advice she’d ever received. To which the responder answered that she didn’t find any writing advice all that helpful. To paraphrase, she said that for every person who told her to just sit down and write (BICHOK!), she equally heard that if the muse fought you every step of the way, it was OK to give it a break. The inconsistencies didn’t make much sense to her . . .

And I see her point, but I’d like to offer this — in any advice we receive, whether it’s a critique, constructive feedback, requested or unsolicited opinion . . . take what works for you and discard the rest. Earlier in the year, Marley Gibson visited us and punctuated her post with two very straightforward words: Writers write.

If you’ve spent any time with us at the Purple Hearts over the past year, you’ll know that I am a fan of quotations, and during the times when I’ve felt like I’ve been spinning my writing wheels I’ve looked to different pieces of advice to help me find some traction while I’ve struggled with what felt like such a futile and frustrating exercise.

So I thought I’d end the year by offering up the top five pieces of advice that I’d either heard or read and then applied to help move me past my stagnant writing spots.

5. Never let success go to your head or failure go to your heart.

I found this saying on a Mary Engelbreit magnet so I bought it and have placed it on my refrigerator as a reminder to keep a level head on this wild publishing ride. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the person who is first credited with this saying, but I still think it’s a good one to keep in mind. And I find it particularly applicable when facing the subjective reactions that color our writing and reading world. It’s nothing personal . . . at least most of the time.

4. Be ready when the lightning strikes.

The first RWA-National conference I attended was in New York in 2003. I went to a luncheon where Jenny Crusie was the speaker, and I left that luncheon feeling so jazzed and able to conquer anything I set my mind to. During that conference and in the years since, I have often heard Jenny say, ‘be ready when the lightning strikes’. It’s a horrible feeling to be presented with an opportunity yet not be poised to seize it. Jenny’s advice encourages us to persist . . . create our own luck . . . and be ready when the stars align and and that lucky day finally dawns.

3. Never hope more than you write.

I read this piece of advice years ago in Rita Mae Brown’s craft book, Starting from Scratch, and it resonated so strongly with me that it’s stayed in my consciousness ever since. It’s such an important piece of advice to me that I’ve blogged about this earlier in the year (and apologize for repeating it here). I think it hits me so hard because it’s so much easier to hope than it is to write. And I don’t want to be one of those people who actively talks about writing but does nothing about it.

2. Worry about writing your break-in book, not your break-out book.

My friend, Jess Andersen, is responsible for pulling me into this crazy, strange, rewarding, and wonderful writing world, and she has not only been a great friend, but a great mentor and teacher . . . not to mention a great writer. She manages my angst and unrealistic expectations with grace and care, and always with a well-tempered response. So when I whine to her that I feel like I write low-concept books she not only helps me think of ways to make them higher concept, she also helps wrestle my learning curve expectations into a more manageable knot. While there are some great publishing stories about breaking out (sometimes on a writer’s first published work!) for me I know I need to focus on just breaking in. And when I think about the slow build for my writing career, I admit that it’s a much more realistic and comfortable place for me to be. Thanks, Jess!

Which dovetails into the most helpful piece of advice I’ve read this year:

1. Applaud every small victory, because every time you do, you create an environment in which a larger victory can grow.

When preparing my GH entry, I turned to Kathy Carmichael’s web site to help me with my synopsis. I still struggle with synopsis writing, but her advice saved me when trying to write the darn thing. In nosing around her web site, I found a resource that she highly recommended reading:

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus.

I dug into this book about a week ago and it’s changing the way I think about putting a story together. The advice I mentioned as my #1 for the year comes from Chapter Two of this book, entitled The Will to Risk. It’s a great book, and not just for writers looking to write comedy.

So there are the top five things that have helped push me when I’ve been feeling stuck. What are yours? Do you have any themes that will help propel your writing through 2008? Please share!
Thanks for spending a part of your year with us at the Purple Hearts! We have some fun things and some great guests lined up for 2008, and I hope you’ll visit us often!

Have a great holiday – a Merry Christmas if it applies to you – and I hope that you can carve some time to write in this mad dash to the end of the year.

Cheers!

-Jessica

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  1. Great post, Jessica! Very motivational. And let me add one of MY favorite quotes that I heard at the RWA Conference in New York in 2003. It was by this very lovely person named Jessica who was at the conference, soaking information up like the proverbial sponge. And when she (you!) said this to me, it really struck a chord:

    “For every moment I’m not writing, there are thousands of people who are.”

    Great advice!

    Hugs,
    Marley = )

  2. Marley! Thank you for the visit. I totally remember that conversation and it made a lasting impression on me, too. I’m so happy to hear that something I’ve said has stayed with you — seems only fair after all the help and advice you’ve unselfishly shared with me over the years!
    Hugs back,
    Jessica


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