Dramaquill's All Things Writing

January 26, 2010

To be a successful Writer – Part 3

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This next quality, patience, is one that I struggle with every single day.  By nature, I’m just not a patient person and I really have to take a breath and practise this quality.

If you really want to be a successful writer, you won’t survive without patience.

Have you ever submitted your work to a contest, publisher or agent?  Then you’ll know what I mean.  Either the wait times are so long (up to a year) or the guidelines state that you’ll only be contacted if they are interested in your submission.

Writers need to develop an ability to let go of their work once they’ve sent it out to someone.  With such long waiting periods, it’s the only way to survive.

And what do you do while you’re waiting?

You continue to write, revise and sub more pieces.  And, you continue to wait.

Waiting can be one of life’s biggest stress factors for those who cannot come to terms with being patient.

And with patience comes something else that I struggle with…not getting annoyed or restless while I’m waiting.  That’s the second half of patience and really the only way to survive in this business. 

But waiting to hear back on submissions isn’t the only area where a writer must embody patience.  Here are a few others:

  1. Waiting for your work to come out in print  (many magazines are
    buying pieces for issues 4 & 5 yrs. into the future).  Seeing your
    book in print can take years as well.  With editing, cover design,
    printing and binding the copies and distributing them to sellers, it’s
    a very lengthy process.
  2. Even with the excitement of having your writing accepted, there’s
    always a wait before the cheque arrives in your mailbox.  With many
    magazines paying on publication, you might have an acceptance
    in 2008 but the piece won’t be out until 2012, which is when you
    will receive payment.  Even publishers who pay on acceptance still
    take a couple of months at the least to send payment.
  3. Once your book is out there, you have to promote it and many
    writers do book signings, interviews and speaking engagements to
    get their name and the name of their book into the public eye.  With
    so much competition, not only from other authors but other sources
    of creative entertainment as well, promoting your book will be a
    time-consuming endeavour.

But above all, there is one area, more than any other, where you MUST be able to demonstrate your deepest form of patience, and that is when it applies to your writing and revising.  If you’ve never written a book before, it’s going to take patience to get it all down as well as organizing your plot, developing your characters and churning out that first draft.  Then, it will require more patience than you might imagine as you begin revising and rewriting. 

And impatient writer will not keep at it until the manuscript is the best possible version of the end product, likely sending out a subpar submission, resulting in a guaranteed rejection.

Have the patience to develop your patience.

January 15, 2010

To be a successful writer – Part 2

Tenacious (taken from http://dictionary.reference.com/)

 1. holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold (often fol. by of): a tenacious grip on my arm; tenacious of old habits.

 

2. highly retentive: a tenacious memory.

3.pertinacious, persistent, stubborn, or obstinate.

 

 4.adhesive or sticky; viscous or glutinous.

5.holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough

Out of all the qualities I’ve thought about in compiling this series, tenacity (being tenacious) is by far what has served me best over the years.  I actually believe that the other qualities, which I reveal in successive parts of this series, stem from being tenacious.

Let’s look at the five different definitions from the dictionary and how I believe they apply to becoming a successful writer…

1.  holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold (often fol. by of): a tenacious grip on my arm; tenacious of old habits. If you’re serious about writing you must keep a firm hold on your goals.  If you want to become a published novelist, for example, you must create the habit of writing each and every day, devoid of distractions, if you ever want to complete that first draft.  Life offers many distractions and building good writing habits, and sticking to them, will definitely move you in the right direction.  With discipline toward your craft, you can, and will, accomplish your goals.

 

 2.highly retentive: a tenacious memory.Writers must be able to focus on a multitude of details.  In novel writing there are settings , plot points, character traits and story arcs to deal with.  A tenacious memory will make keeping it all straight a much easier task.  But besides the actual writing, you’ll have to remember contest deadlines, submissions that you’ve got out to publishers/agents and countless other details on the business side of writing.

3.pertinacious, persistent, stubborn, or obstinate. Luckily, as a Taurus, my natural personality contains many of these, but if it didn’t, these traits are definitely necessary to further your career.  Think of those pertinacious salespeople that follow you around the store, not letting up until they have you engaged.  Be persistent about what you want as a writer, stubborn about getting it and obstinate when someone or something tries to stand in your way.

 

 4.adhesive or sticky; viscous or glutinous. Maybe this one’s a bit of a stretch (no pun intended), but I see this definition as sticking to your plans…sticking to your schedule…sticking to your goals.  Like adhesive sticks two objects together, the writer must stick to the task of creating words, finishing manuscripts and seeking a home for each project.

 

 5. holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; toughTo be a successful writer, you can’t be a softie – a pushover.  Ask yourself, how badly do I want this?  Then formulate your plan, cohesively integrating it into your life and your current schedule.  Be tough – make the sacrifices necessary to find the time to write, if that’s what you really have a passion to do.

And remember that being a successful writer, although my definition of that means writing for paid publication, can mean something entirely different to you.  But however you see that success, you must be tenacious if you want to get there.

January 12, 2010

To be a successful writer, you must possess these qualities Part 1

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2009 was a great writing year for me!

I had two poems come out in Hopscotch for Girls magazine (“Marsupials” in the June 2009 issue and” The Language of Tap” in the December 2009 issue).

Writer’s Digest bought an article of mine and published it in their new writer’s market series book, “Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Markets” 2009 and are also including it as a reprint in their 2010 version of the same market book.

I’ve had some very successful productions of several of my kids/teens’ plays this past season.

I’m more than half-way through the sequel to my adult suspense novel with a goal of finishing it by June of 2010.

And the biggest news of all…

I was offered a contract for my adult suspense novel (more details on that soon).

So as I segue into 2010, I’m jazzed about all that this new year has to offer and all the projects that I’m stoked to begin.  But I also remember, just a few short years ago, wondering if this writing thing, the term used to refer to my creative habit by many family and friends, would ever amount to much more than a verbal pastime. 

Looking back throughout my life so far, I’ve noticed that I’ve really been writing/creating stories since my childhood days, when I’d invent characters and scenerios to help us while away the sunny afternoon boredom.  I wrote stories throughout all my school years.  Alone in my bedroom, I pretended to be an assortment of different characters.  I wrote my first play during a high school summer vacation.

I believe that true writers can’t help but write and create.  And maybe, for some, just the act of putting words to paper fulfills them.

So what propels some writers, like me, to overcome the leagues of rejections, never once losing sight of the ultimate goal:  getting published?
(and by getting published I mean traditional markets that pay).

I truly believe there are certain qualities every writer who is serious about writing professionally must aquire.

Do you have these qualities?

Do you agree or disagree?

In Part 2 of this series of blogposts, I’ll address the first of what I believe are the top five qualities every writer, serious about the writing biz, should possess.

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