Of Writers & Wroters: Pressing in to your Future or Settling Somewhere in your Past

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Where do you find the inspiration you need to make it to your writing desk faithfully? Is it your financial obligations pushing you forward? Is it your desire to prove everyone wrong who told you that you wouldn’t make a living as a writer; those family members and childhood friends who still crack little sarcastic jokes, asking when you’re going to get a ‘real job’? Are you in the fresh young love stage: you’ve recently discovered your passion for writing and have been caught in the honeymoon phase? Or, have you been writing long enough to realize that there’s nothing else able to bring real pleasure to your life than releasing the stories that are constantly being birthed inside you?

When I moved to Wichita Kansas from Northern California, I had a really hard time acclimating to the midwest culture. Over the next few years I became pretty impressed with Wichita’s music, art, and Independent film scene. Being excited about the art scene—and being the social butterfly that everyone says I am—I was invited to several Writers groups and I jumped at the offers.

Unfortunately, these groups didn’t bring any encouragement to me as a writer at all. In fact, after ‘hanging out’ at these so called ‘Writer’s Groups’ I ended up depressed with nothing to show for all the time I’d spent each week at these meetings. I wasn’t being encouraged to write. I wasn’t being encouraged to push myself; any encouragement I gave to the groups, to press on and believe that their best was yet to come, was shot down. I soon realized that:

(1) At these writing groups there wouldn’t actually be any writing happening

(2) There wouldn’t be any talk or challenging of each other to write

(3) Everyone was more than satisfied to live in the memories and stories of the few things they had written and had published somewhere in years long past.

The ones who had invited me to these groups, and those who filled the chairs in the quaint houses and local coffee shops where they met to tell their publishing stories from the ‘Good Old Days’—a time and place, within the stories of past moments. A place that I am not willing to live my future in—were all wonderful people. I love to sit and sip on a mug of hot coffee or tea and listen to their stories. I still do it today. I couldn’t, however, do it any longer as part of a ‘Writing Group.’ They were not writing groups; they were all reminiscing/talking groups—which were great for hanging out and reminiscing and talking. Not for writing or becoming better writers.

In a recent post, Gary Bizzo (www.garybizzo.com), shares an interesting quote from one of his friends. A quote that has been rolling around in my mind all morning:

“Some entrepreneurs are emotionally tied up in their smallness.”

Although Gary was using the quote to make a point about the potential that many small business owners miss out on because they’ve allowed themselves to find comfort in the ‘safety’ of what they are used to; the comfort zone of present success.

They’ve become satisfied living within the unsatisfying refuge of what they’ve already accomplished; giving themselves to the fact that thought that they’ve done their best, there’s nothing else to give, and they’ve accomplished all they are going to accomplish.

I don’t fit in with a group like that. You don’t fit in with a group like that. Those Writers (or I should say, Wroters) won’t be having cups of coffee or tea at 4 or5am—eyes barely open, still half dreaming—to continue working on their latest WIP; to edit pieces from the day before; to start their morning writing exercises; begin their routine submissions process, or—if like me or any number of literary Jedi out there—juggle the insanity of all-of-the-above.

Tenacity, Confidence, Addressing a Real Need.

These are what the patent specialists (www.2innovative.net) call “Key Concepts” when patenting business ideas. The same is true in the life of a writer.

  • TENACITY, to go against the flow; against the whispers and little cutting, sarcastic jokes; and against the temptation to find a home among the ‘Wroter’s Groups’ living in yesteryear. Tenacity to keep writing even when technical issues and computer crashes cause you to lose hundreds of thousands of words. Ouch, yes, I know and it’s happened to me too many times as well. That’s why God created Google Drive, iCloud Storage, BOX, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and the Calitso it guys [ok maybe God didn’t create them but they can all be your literary salvation when your computer crashes.]
  • CONFIDENCE in your personal passion as a writer. The kind of confidence that propels you towards your computer, tablet, pen & paper, or typewriter every day to create the kind of literary magic that you do. It also takes confidence to respect your work enough to stay with it through edit and submission.
  • ADDRESSING A REAL NEED is at the heart of your talent. Humanity isn’t happy. Everyone is looking for happiness. Everyone is running after it as fast as they can; though no one is quite sure where to find it. Stories, books, novels, movies, comics, graphic novels, television shows and series, etc., ect., – these are the momentary escapes which, no matter how bad the economy is, continue to become more and more popular—and even more so when times are harder on people—because people want escape. People need their temporary escapes from reality to cope with a life that they’re not happy with. You and I are the writers, artists, filmmakers, who dream up and create those escapes.

Our creative talents and abilities create the alternate realities and escapes that fuel the mental vacations keeping the masses from becoming infected with the ‘crazies.’

For me, this is more than enough inspiration to meet my computer every morning over coffee. This is more than enough reason to keep romancing my Muse, to keep faithful with daily edits and rewrites; more than enough reason to keep submitting regardless of the rejections slips and resubmissions. With each published work we share another opportunity to offer hope and momentary relief to our fellow friends and family of humanity.

What inspires you to write?

What inspires you to keep meeting that computer each morning?

What inspires you to honor your heart, respect your purpose, fight for your freedom to be a creator?

I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers to you, Writers!

-Sam

@SamuelWConnelly

www.SamTheWriter.com 

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Start The New Year WRITE! & Don’t Forget What You’ve Written

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“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”

– Isaac Asimov

I usually just skip the whole ‘making a New Year Resolution’ thing, but I do usually have a few things in mind that I want to accomplish in the new year. One of those things is publishing more work. As writer’s I would hope that we all want to accomplish that.

I hear writer’s all the time tell me that that only write for themselves and that they don’t really care to be published. To that, I call ‘Shenanigans’! Yes you do! We all do. We all love the feeling of having our work accepted by an editor and then published for others to enjoy. It’s a great feeling. It’s a beautiful moment. Seeing your work in print gives a special validation to your craft; the hours of research you put in, the creative chats you had with yourself in the quite- in the bathroom mirror, and endless cuts and rewrites.

The picture above is a picture of a cup of coffee in front of my iPad. I keep this picture as the background on my iPad. For me, it’s a reminder that I’m a writer and I have a job to do, so I should go ahead and get the ideas percolating and the coffee brewing.

I love and hate the quote above by Isaac Asimov. I love it because it’s true, and it gives an encouragement of hope for writers. I hate it because it’s true, and it reminds me that ‘just writing‘ won’t pay the cell phone bill.

I heard it said: “Persistence breaks down resistance.”  This is a marking and evangelism encouragement quotes, but when it comes to submitting your work I’ve found that persistence also builds resistance. I’m talking about the feeling you get when you receive a rejection slip, or two, of 50. The more you persistently send out your work to editors, the more you learn, the more feedback you get on your work, and the more resistance you build against the emotional feeling of defeat or failure.

2014 is here, and I hope as a writer you’re ready to scribble out some new ideas, stories, poems, etc. I hope that you’re diving into market research to find the names of the editors who may be looking for your work.

Although you have new ideas to scribble out and fresh stories to tell, do forget the gold that you have already written; the stories, articles, manuscripts written last year and before. While you’re hopping on the again, getting ready to blaze a new trail, start submitting the work you’ve finished. If you’re gonna get rejections, then start sending what you’ve already written- get the ball rolling. The feedback you get in some of those rejections are going to be the seasoning you needed in this fresh batch to give them just what they’re craving.

Cheers to you and this new year. 

Connect with me, and share you stories. I’d love to hear them.

-Cheers!       SamTheWriter

Follow Me @SamuelWConnelly 

NaNoWriMo Writing Tips

Ok, so I normally spend more time on my blogs, but since this month I am cranking out 50,000 words with thousands of other NaNoWriters all over the world this month, I am going to make my blogs posts short, but sweet.

The tips I will be throwing out this month are not all for everyday writing. These tips are most geared towards those of you completing a 50,000 word novels.

If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writer’s Month), I will write more later, but for express info go to http://www.NaNoWriMo.com.

Ok let’s get into it.

Short and Sweet.

Tip 1 – You have a story in you that needs to be told. Just start writing.

One of the things that really help me here, is writing SCENES. If I’m not sure where to start my story, since I see my stories like a feature movie in my mind. I think about the movie and scenes from it and then grab my paper, computer, IPad (this year) and write – SCENE: And I’m off, creating a scene. It doesn’t matter where in the Novel this scene, or short story, fits. What is important it that a piece of your story is written.

Tip 2 – Don’t let anything stop you…Keep on Moving!

There are a several things that will come up that will cause you to want to stop writing.

The Characters names do not matter right now. If you are stuck on your character’s name, then write down one of the first names that come to mind just to keep yourself moving. YOU CAN ALWAYS COME BACK WHEN YOU REACH THE FINISH LINE.

Dialog Does Work. Don’t let your character’s dialog do you in. Today I was writing with a fellow author and she got really frustrated and said that she didn’t feel like her dialog felt ‘genuine’ . I reminded her that we have 30 days to produce 50,000 words. Go ahead and skip it for now and move on. Make a note that reminds you what you want the dialog to be about. Then move on and come back later when you are ready.

Writing Yourself Into That Dreaded Corner. This happens a lot. Solution. PRESS ENTER TWICE AND MOVE ON. You may not know where that scene is going, but you do know where another scene going, so step out of the corner and start somewhere else.

Tip 3 – Your Story Has The Answer. I have found that many times as you push on with your story, the story itself will answer your question, or work out the problems that you had to skip. Trust your story.

Remember, KEEP MOVING FORWARD, don’t stop for anything. Write what you do know, skip what you don’t.

HAVE FUN

SamTheWriter,
signing off

Write Because You Must!

42-16022523 Why are you writing? Why do you pick up your pen, tap on your keyboard, or scribble in your notepad? When was the last time you asked yourself the question: Why do I do this? If you have never asked yourself this question, I encourage you to take a few minutes (right now) and ask yourself. If you really want to be a writer, you need to know the answer. Do you write because you want to be published? Do you write because you want to get paid? I have asked other writers this question and have gotten some interesting answers, but the answer that you should hear your inner most soul responding back should be something along the lines of, “Because I love it”. One day while I was in a coffee shop close to my house I was approached by a young lady who saw my writing and thought she would make herself comfortable at the table next to mine. She asked what I was writing and then told me that she also writes. “What do you write?” I asked “Oh, anything really. It depends on what I am feeling at the time.” She answered. “Do you have anything published?” I asked “No, but maybe someday.” “Have you submitted any of your work anywhere?” “No” “Researched any writing markets?” I questioned “No, never thought about it.” She said with a smile. “Let me ask you a question.” I started, “Why do you write?” She looked at me and looked at my laptop, she looked around the room, and twirled her curly black hair with her index finger and then looked at me, smiled and said, “Because I couldn’t image myself not writing.” That answer was awesome, that was the answer that rings loudly in the hearts of all writers. Writers write because they must, they can not imagine themselves void of pen and paper. They must write, because they must write. That young lady really encouraged me that day and I have thought about her several times since. I know first hand that many writers have part and full time jobs. They must make a living, because if you are like me (married with children) you can not afford to be a starving artist. I have to be accountable with my family and make sure that I am bringing home a paycheck week to week. So, I do what I don’t want to do and work a full time job, and then come home and stay up late writing, or wake up way too early to write before I go to work and clock in. Juggling around a full time work schedule, with being a father (mother), husband (wife), with all of the after school activities, it could be very easy to say, “I don’t have time to write” and get stuck in a cycle for the rest of your life. But, if you love to write, you must find the time, sacrifice, to get it done. If you plan on someday making a living, writing, then you must push yourself to be consistent with it even in the hardest times. If you love it, I encourage you to do what you can to find a way to allow it to support you. If you must write, write. But if you are so busy with life that you can not see yourself getting paid for your writing, don’t put the pen down- write, write, write, because you love it. Maybe no one will ever see your work, maybe you will never be published, maybe you don’t care to be; that is fine, just write and keep writing because YOU know that you are a WRITER and writers are who they are because they do what they must do…Write. I hope that you will discover ways to find time to get away to write the stories that you are dying to read. I also find it incredibly helpful to sneak off to a public library and read what others have so passionately written. Before you head off to school or work, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m a writer who happens to work at McDonald’s, or Starbucks, or goes to school and Bla Bla University. I’m a writer who happens to be a full time manager at the bookstore or local deli. I am a writer who happens to work 40, 50, 60 hours a week…but no matter what I do to make a living, I know that I am a writer, and I’ll not stop writing.” Don’t get frustrated by the fact that you have a full time job. Don’t let your job steal your creative ability to fashion literary masterpieces on paper. Don’t let your occupation dictate who you are. Allow those things to be the financial tools by which you are given the home, computer, and materials, necessary to further the perfecting of who you are, as a writer. No matter what the future holds for you, Write, because you must! SamTheWriter signing off, www.samthewriter.com

Prose – KEEP OUT: Writers Block

I stare onto a half empty worked piece of literary art. It is half worked, and half empty, lonely; a white lined dessert. I am at a loss. No inspiration cometh. My well is dry, my fountain dribbles bitter water.

It is in these times that I struggle for anything to help and find that the worlds O have been creating will not let me in – No Access Pass! The hundreds of characters that I have intimately inked hide themselves behind this mysterious door of my brain.

I look over the various stories I have passionately begun to write, the several novels I had started, some nearly finished. I know the outlines and try to move them along, yet they remain motionless. I am the Writer, yet my characters refuse to move; plot will not play out, conflict stands still, and characters avoid development.

Even tonight, a perfect night to stay awake all night and write – I am frozen, literally and literally. Creativity has given me ideas to build upon, but, at the same time, the door into my mental workshop stays tightly locked- keeping me out.

I am Blocked.

Writers Block. Why? Is my mind blocking my ability to write, or is creativity (as if it were a person) blocking my entering in to these worlds I need to enter into to finish these great stories.

It is as if the characters have locked the door. The created have conspired. Mutiny. The Created vs. Their Creator.

Or could it be that the stories have called to me, and knowing my present stress forbid me from telling their stories; they fearing mis-interpretation?

I will attempt to sleep and wake early. Maybe the quiet and darkness, the calmness and peacefulness of the early morning will bring to me the blessing of the Muse (or whatever creative spirit there is that sets artists aflame) which will help me to hear better.

Possibly then, I will fall asleep to the stresses of the busyness and wisdom of the world of selfish men and awaken into the realm of creative imagination, and then -only then, I will be given access into their worlds. Them: the characters, which live only in my sub conscience until their exodus to white, paper filled promised lands, will finally turn the key and open the door to me, knowing that I am finally fully listening.

http://www.samthewriter.com

Where Commeth My Inspiration?

I am honestly a strange cat that loves to write. On many occasions I have had a reader, friend, or editor ask me, “Where in the world did you come up with this idea?”

There is no real secret. Ideas are everywhere. It’s just taking the time to recognize them and then answer the Muse’s favorite question: ‘What if…” Fortunately I have a lot of places to look for ideas. They come to me on a consistent basis. It’s up to me to grasp each opportunity and own the moment (I’ll talk about that in a sec).

Opportunities come in a couple different ways;

1. Undeniable Opportunities:

I was sitting in a cafe shop one day leading a coffee tasting with four friends. As we sat there I noticed a man, with seventy clothes (velvet shirt, bell bottom pants, and a Beatles looking hair cut – you know the straight look that they had in their young albums) he walked quickly up to the barista and said, “Are you from London?” To which the barista laughed and said, “Nope, not all all.” The man then asked him if he was sure. The barista, then confirmed it with a hearty (Yep, born and raised in Wichita Kansas. I would know if I were from Europe.” To which the other man said, “Really? That is so strange because you look like a rock star!” To which the barista started laughing and responded with, “If is were a rock star I surely wouldn’t be wasting my time serving coffee for $7.25 and hour.”

As the guy walked away, looking back at the barista every few steps I thought, This is funny, I have to turn this into a short story – and I did, in fact I wrote three different stories all bases off of the short interaction that had taken place. I did a short fiction, a short comedy horror, and a short mystery. And two of the three have sold.

Point is that we all get these great moments that just throw themselves at us. In those moments, as a writer you have to be ready to react – as a writer. Don’t let the moment and the feelings pass you by. Instead stop, think about what happened, look around at others, get a feel for the moment, and then take some notes so that later, when you are ready to produce some creative word count, you can write about that.

2. Reflective Opportunities: richellefairies

These opportunities seem to come by themselves too, but they are soft moment, quiet moments, and they are very easily passed up. It could be a moment in your car – it’s hot outside, your stuck in traffic, creepy along at a snails pace, the radio is on, and you suddenly realize that everything is moving in slow motion, and you just kind of slowly flow with it. You look out at other drivers – a man yells on his cell phone at someone, but his voice is lost in the background of reality, a group of teens walk along the side walk laughing, the woman in the car ahead of you uses the rear view mirror to fix her makeup. The issues of life, and humanity come into your mind. You experience a sense of oneness with the planet, and then, as quickly as you were caught up into it, a horn blares, and your realize that your holding up traffic. Your back to the present travailing at a quick speed of one second by one second into the future.

These moments can very easily pass you by, you not even realizing that you had a great experience that was full of thought, feelings, concern, and realization. This is a great writing opportunity. I write these moments out as a short story or prose, and then I put them in a file and go back over them later to see if there’s anything there to work with.

Most diaries and online journals or blogs are basically inspired by these moments: what happened to me today, what I’m feeling right now and why, how I reacted to something I heard or seen. These are all reflections, and many inspirational stories, novels, and screen plays come from these moments. You just write down the moment as clearly and precisely as you can, and then ask questions like; “How can I get this point across to more people? What can I change in this story so that it becomes something that everyone can really relate to and understand.

Practical Application (example, all fictitious):

  • Thomas Kline finds himself sitting at a bus stop waiting for his bus. to his left is a mother and her six year old son, who has a mental disability. To his right is a lawyer who makes a rude comment about people with disabilities and their weight on society. Thomas is offended for the boy and later on that day he stews and stews over it. He thinks about how he’d love to see that lawyer come face to face with a disabled person who is better at everything than he is. ‘That would be awesome. Put him in his place. Just because a person does not talk or interact in a socially acceptable way does not mean that they can not do many many great things’ He thought. Rekindling all those emotions he grabs a pen and paper and begins writing about a man named Forest Gump. (Again, this was a fictitious example)

Reflective opportunities come to you when something moves you, or gets you to momentarily question life. Many times questions you ask yourself about religion, spirituality, life after death, will give birth to these moments, but also those things that move you towards happy experiences, or angry feelings will bring these moments. Ask yourself, what do I love, and what to I hate? then write.

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3. Created Opportunities:

These are moments you can create yourself. For me, I’ve created several play lists on my computer. I have; happy, dark, melodic, joyful, strange and interesting, angry, misery, triumphant, and depressing – lists. To create an experience for the piece I’m writing, I think about what it is the moment is calling for, what the character is feeling, and then I try and create the moment and feelings for myself, by turning on that play list and relaxing, allowing the feelings the music creates to craft images and stir imagination and then I grab my pen, or put my fingers to the key board and take off.

Music is a great tool for my creative process. You may have something else you like to do that does it for you. I also find that mowing the lawn, taking hot showers late at night, a walk in the park, taking the kids to a playground and sitting back and watching them play, and working out at the gym cause my creative juices to start marinating my brain with great ideas.

Lastly – Own The Moment:

If there is anything that I can say in all of this that you are actually going to commit to memory, and take away with you I really hope that it is this: No matter what you experience. No matter what kind of circumstances you find around you. No matter how good or bad things seem to be, remember that the circumstances and issues do not own you, you own you and if you look at every single thing that comes your way as an opportunity to better your self, you can own every circumstance. If you have a really stressful day – write about it, turn it into money. If you are in a bad relationship, don’t let it own you, as a writer, write about it – own it, and make it work out for you.

EXAMPLES:

a. I was irritated with my wife for something. Later we both found that it was a big miscommunication issue. Instead of stewing over it, I changed the people and places, and events, and wrote a short story about it. I also took what I learned from the situation and sold an article to a couples magazine.

b. My wife called me one night about a month ago and told me that a man had cut her off and actually ran her off the road. Luckily she was able to run off into a gas station. I was furious about it and wished that I could jump in my car and go find him, but that was impossible, so to release my feelings of vengeance, I wrote a short horror story about a man whose wife was killed by a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel. In the story, the protagonist was able to track down the man and hand deliver some extreme justice – I sure felt better after getting it out of my system.

c. I was closing a job down one night. I was sitting at my desk and my co-worker, (a beautiful women about my age and the only other person in the building) came over to my desk and sat down in my lap. I quickly let her know that that was really inappropriate. She text my cell phone later asking me if I wanted to come over while both of our spouses were at work. I declined and shared a few strong words with her. That night, however, I was really bothered about how much sexual tension can be created in the work place, and even more so, how many couples cheat on each other with co-workers. I decided to do a study on the matter and produced a great article called “A Time to Work… it?”, which I sold to an online magazine.

These are ways to take Ownership of the issues and circumstances that you face day in and day out. Life is really just a progression of circumstances after circumstances. You are thrown into a never ending flow of issues, all calling for your reaction. It is the science: For every action there is a reaction. How you react to every action that comes to you will determine the level of ownership you obtain.

I write, I am a writer, and the more I write the better I get, it’s evolution – the process of personal growth – the mechanics of life. As I writer, I have decided that I must view every moment as an opportunity to take ownership of my writing future. I will Own the Moment – the moments will not own me. I will write.

Hope you found something good here today…I did.

SamTheWriter,

Signing off