10 Writing Tips to Help You Kick Off Your 2015, w/ Advise from Bradbury & Baker

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“I make my films because I have to! I have stories I have to tell and I won’t be satisfied until my movie is done, and out.”  

– Kelley Baker

“...writing is survival. Any art, and good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” – Ray Bradbury

Ok so we’re already seven days into 2015 and between your routines of trying to lose 25 pounds, attempting to stay warm, creating a new habit of writing ‘2015’ on your checks and homework (because you really didn’t even get use to writing ‘2014’), and already making amendments to your ‘new year resolution daily planner’, you’re a writer and you’ve determined to be that. So I want to offer you a few tips to help kick your new year into full gear.

Let’s face it, the beginning of the year is one of the best times to kick yourself into gear and start training yourself to cultivate new and better habits. Why? Because our minds are already in this ‘new year, new me, new life, new choices’ kinda thinking. Why not use the time to examine ourselves: get rid of old habits that are not working and start some new ones that just might.

With ‘new year habits’ in mind, I’m going to break this list into 10 habits: 1 – 5 are HABITS TO STOP and  6 -10 are HABITS TO START, maintain or re-cultivate.

I enlisted two amazing experts to help with these 10 Tips: The legendary Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing’, and The Angry Filmmaker, Mr. Kelley Baker,The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide, Part 1: Making The Extreme No-Budget Film.’

This is a longer post than usual so lets jump right in…

Tip 1: NO EXCUSES

“I never waste my time lecturing people who claim they ‘used to write.’ You either write or you don’t”. – Kelley Baker

Truth is truth: To be a writer you have to write. No more excuses for not writing. It takes work to sit down, and writing is not for everyone. It’s for writers. If you’re not a writer and won’t find time to write, then stop telling people that you’re a writer. If you are a writer, then by nature you must write. You have to make it happen. As the old saying goes: ‘Where there’s a will there a way’. Find it.

Tip 2: NO DISTRACTIONS

To be a writer you have to write. You cannot write if you’re allowing yourself to be distracted. Netflix is one of my big distractions. I love having sound in the background as I write so, I turn on some movie to play and before I know it I’m fully enthralled in the show, having wasted all my writing time. I had to realize the problem and put a stop to it. Now I turn on Pandora, the music works to my creative advantage.   

What distracts you? Is it music, friends, your local coffeehouse, social media — do you have to check your Facebook and Twitter feed every hour? Social media can be great but they’ve been the reason many writers never finish their WIP (Work In Progress). Many writers let their ideas waste away in their minds, or leave them locked away in a first draft in some desk drawer or filing cabinet  for years, because they allow distractions to take all their time. It’s time to turn the TV, radio, social notifications and text messaging OFF. And WRITE.

Tip 3: NO FIRST DRAFT EDITS

This is a really hard rule to follow, but it’s important. Allowing yourself to look at the screen and see the red underlining from autocorrect will not only slow you down but it becomes a serious distraction that’ll pull you out of your creative flow; this is the most important element to capture in your first draft. Creative flow: Passion, and firestorms, and literary hurricanes. The first draft is for explosions.

Ray puts it like this:

“Tomorrow, pour cold critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today–explode –fly apart– disintegrate! the other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, reading your story, will catch fire too?”

Tip 4: DON’T WRITE WITH PUBLICATION IN MIND

To be a writer you have to write. Putting this limitation on yourself is a sure fire way to extinguish the creative passion-flames that your Muse desires to help you consume those blank white pages with. The biggest ball and chain we writers weigh ourselves down with is writing for publication alone. Not only is it impossible to stay on top of what sells today, but writing for publication alone keeps you from exploring what’s in you, what you have gathered over your life; trading it for a short-lived space on the ‘Today’s Trending Reads’ shelf. Which is nearly impossible to get on anyways. Don’t sell yourself short by writing only to sell.

“Do not, for money, turn away from all the stuff you have collected in a lifetime. Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are — the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore indispensable to others.” – Ray Bradbury

“I don’t believe you write something because you know that it has been tested and it will appeal to a certain group. I know, I am in the minority here. But if you’re going to go to all the trouble to create a story, write it, and rewrite it, again and again, then you should be passionate about it! Don’t do it because of a marketing survey!” – Kelley Baker

I don’t know about you, but if being in the minority puts me in the company of guys like Ray and Kelley, the minority sounds like a pretty freakin awesome place to be. Count me in!

Tip 5: TALKING ABOUT IT ISN’T WRITING

To be a writer you have to write. It’s way too easy to get caught in a coffeehouse or Barnes & Noble sipping on coffee with your laptop or ipad in front of you with the best ‘intentions’, but lets be honest: how many times do you end up hooking up with friends and telling them about what you’re gonna write, and by the time you leave the place, you had a great chat with your friend and not a paragraph to show for it?

I’ve been caught in this situation too many times and, I just about fell out of my chair when Kelley basically called me out — from his book — while in my favorite coffeehouse trying to write, read, and chat it up. Multitasking has NO PLACE at the writer’s first draft desk. Here’s the words the Angry Filmmaker used to pimp-smack me straight out of his book;  

“Talking about your great script idea is not going to get it written. You can sit in all the coffee shops and cafes you want and tell everyone about your movie, but until you sit down and write it, your idea doesn’t mean squat. You’re a poser.”

Tip 6: READ TONS

If you hate to read you’ll never be an effective writer. We learn our craft, learn about ourselves, learn writing styles, and learn the meaning of literary flow, or as I call it ‘read-ability’, as we glean from those who have paved the literary pathways before us with the yellow-brick-road of a billion stories, upon which we travel.

“Books! that’s what I’m afraid you’re going to have to start reading. that’s right, books. They’re not evil, and they won’t bite. They can actually teach you something. Like storytelling. Storytelling, what a concept…I just don’t get people who don’t like to read.”  – Kelley Baker

Tip 7: WRITE DAILY

To be a writer you have to write. Let’s go back to the Angry Filmmaker, Kelley Baker, for this point because he ‘gets’ it. He not only understands the importance of creating the daily habit as an exercise as Bradbury mentions in the quote below, Baker also shares the simple, practical and effective side of writing daily. Even if that means sitting in front of the computer screen for an hour or writing one page and calling it success.

A screenplay doesn’t write itself. You need to sit down, clear your desk and your mind. Then start writing. It takes commitment. Personally, I make myself sit down every day to write. I psych myself out. I only have to write a single page, then I can stop. And why not? If I just write a page a day, then in less than four months, I have a screenplay. How easy is that? …”

And Baker’s money quote…

“Sitting down to write is not rocket science. If it’s a habit, and you set up the same time every day or every other day to do it, then you feel bad when you don’t. So you do it. Simple, right? Make writing a habit!”

Bradbury reminds us of how important this daily habit is as well,

“The smallest effort to win means, at the end of each day, a sort of victory. Remember that pianist who said that if he did not practice every day he would notice, if he did not practice for two days, the critics would would, after three days, his audience would know.”

Tip 8: WRITE FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, YOUR SANITY

I’ll let Ray take this one…

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you…The horrors are not to be denied. In my own circle , an aunt, and uncle, and a cousin, as well as six friends, have been destroyed by the car. The list is endless and crushing if we do not creatively oppose it. Which means writing as cure. Not completely, of course. You never get over your parents in the hospital or your best love in the grave. I won’t won’t use the word “therapy,” it’s too clean, too sterile a word. I only say when death slows others, you must leap to set up your diving board and dive head first into your typewriter.”  

Tip 9: The Angry Filmmaker’s ‘3-Easy-Steps for Writing a Screenplay’

I hate giving away too much, but I believe that the Angry Filmmaker wouldn’t mind me sharing his  ‘3-Easy-Steps for Writing a Screenplay’ and they are brilliant. Perfect for ALL writers of ALL experience levels.

Step 1. Put Your Butt In The Chair!

Step 2. Put Your Butt In The Chair!

Step 3. Put Your Butt In The Chair!

[ NOTE: These 3-Steps are from ‘The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Chapter 2 ‘Scripting, Scripting, and more Scripting’. This is one of the highest recommended reads I could ever encourage any writer to eat up. It’s a 6-course steak dinner. Get it, read it, devour it, read it again. Then repeat the process until it’s apart of you.]   

Tip 10: WRITE BECAUSE YOU MUST

To be a writer you have to write.

“I make my films because I have to! I have stories I have to tell and I won’t be satisfied until my movie is done, and out.”  – Kelley Baker

“…writing is survival. Any art, and good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” – Ray Bradbury

Final Thought:

I plan to go for the Gusto in 2015. Hold nothing back. Give my best. Write more than ever before. Get to know myself better. Write never before ‘as a man on fire’. I want to encourage you to do the same. If you’re a writer, WRITE! Examine yourself and discover those habits that hold you back as well as those habits you want to maintain and cultivate. Begin new habits. Find time to be productive, to cultivate YOU the Writer!

-Cheers

SamTheWriter

Featured Quotes:

This post’s featured quotes come from books by Ray Bradbury and Kelley Baker. Both books mentioned below I highly recommend. If I had the money I would honestly buy a copy for anyone seeking to be a better writer. There’s thousands of books out there that are marketed as ‘Writer Help Resources’ that end up being a watered down writer’s devotional, but no meat, no practical application advice.

Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’ is full of amazing essays that truly get you into the mind of one of the greatest writers to ever live. Get a copy at Amazon.

Baker’s ‘The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guides Parts 1 & 2‘ are exactly what they’re branded: survival guides. In my opinion these guides are ‘The Survival Guides’ and could honestly replace almost every ‘Writer’s Help’ book in my library — had I known when they were first published I would have saved hundreds of dollars.

Get your copies NOW at the AngryFilmmaker.com. Let him know that SamTheWriter recommended you.

 CHECK OUT ALL MY LATEST POSTS AT SAMTHEWRITER.COM 

A Writer never has a Vacation: be Prepared

Enjoying others books

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”

– Eugene Ionesco / Gothem Writers’ Workshop

I am constantly writing. Most freelance writers know exactly what I’m talking about. When I got my new cell phone (Centro), I was very excited to discover that it had come fully packed with Microsoft word.  Cell phones are one of the most amazing tools, for everyone, but especially writers.

My first week with my new phone I got stuck in a very small town, for a week, and couldn’t find an internet connection anywhere. But, because of my new, sweet phone, I was able to write and send off four poems to Blue Mountain Arts, which within a few days, proved a good idea.

Being equipped, at all times is so important as a writer. I keep a small notebook in my back pocket at all times, and usually two pens in my pants somewhere. Since I write so often, and for a few different places, I don’t want to miss a great idea. I use my pad to write stuff as it comes and when I get a chance later I either read my notes onto my Centro’s voice recorder, or make a note right then on the word program.  Many times I’ll even send myself a quick e-mail to remind myself later to read my notes.

No matter what I am currently working on, I never stop taking notes for other projects. I may be writing ideas for poetry I’m sending to Blue Mountain, or a few other literary mags, an idea for this blog, my personal blog, a journalism article for the Examiner ( I’m Wichita, Ks. Christian Faith & Culture Examiner), sending off short stories, or ideas for one of few novels, or poetry project.  Doesn’t matter what it is, I have to keep ideas flowing.

I was on Ray Bradbury’s website about a year ago, and he made the comment,

I never got anywhere without a pad of paper and a pen, I am a writer, so I am naked without them, and I hate to be naked.”

I have to agree, about being naked that is. I have, unfortunately, found myself naked in public: no pen, no paper, no cell. And, without fail, every time I had forgotten my literary clothes, I would meet the most amazing idea. By the time I got home, I had forgotten most of it and was left with an ok idea, but without the magic.

If you are a writer, you should be writing all the time, or thinking about what you will write. After you have some great ideas and you know how you are going to use them. take some time and let them marinate in your mind. Mental marination can add an amazing depth to your work. I usually let an idea marinate at least a few weeks. But after two weeks, I write it down and send it off.

Well, my kids are calling me upstairs to read them a story before bed, so I’m out.

Have fun, writing. Write a lot, write often. Write, write, write, then edit and submit.

oh yea, and to all of you parents: Happy first day of Summer! We are writers, but we are parents first! Make sure you don’t neglect your most important responsibility, greatest gift, and most valuable possession.

Later,

Samuel Connelly

Visit my writer’s site @ SamTheWriter

And if you have a comment or just want to drop a line, you can rech me at Sam@SamTheWriter.com.

WRITE ON FIRE

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WRITE ON FIRE!

“Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these two words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were to name the most imortant items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto. ”

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Ray Bradbury is by far one of my favorite authors. As a matter of a fact, if it were not for his amazing short stories, especially ‘The Illustrated Man’, I would quite possibly not be a writer today.

There are so many things to love about Ray’s stories; the way that he could grab a person (at any age)  and take him to distant planets of amazement, and terror, or staying right here on planet earth in its final minuets. I remember staying awake at night, hiding under my blanket with my pen light, reading Ray’s stories. As a writer, he is an amazing example of what it is that I would love to be most like.

As writer’s, we have the wonderful ability to literally change someone’s day, week, month, and possibly life.

Especially, now, in times of financial uncertainty, war on the horizon, and depression on the rise, PEOPLE NEED AN ESCAPE! People need a moment of  relief, a departure from stress, exodus from the land of the norm….and we, the writers, artists, have the incredible ability to offer that literary boat to Elsewhere.

Not only did I learn a lot from Ray about how to create an amazingly believable house of fiction, but I learned that writers must be accountable to the spirit of the Muse, or the creative art.  He often says things like “Write what you love” or “What that story that you want to read”.

We as writers can get so caught up in our endeavors to become financially supported by our writings, that it is easy to research the market and write what we hope they will buy. But, as I have heard Ray say in interviews, and in writing, “Don’t write for the Market, write for you.”  Write what you are passionate about. Write stories that you can not help but pick up your self time and time again.

Think about that perfect story that you are dying to read, but have not found yet…now do yourself a real favor and write it. Markets will come. Ha ha…if you write it, Markets will come. Have you looked at the 2009 Writer’s Market yet…it is three times bigger than my Bible! The Market is huge, there are people that love all kids of writing.

You’re a writer. Be a writer, a real writer, an honest writer. Write what you love. As Ray say, “Look to your zest, see to your gusto!” Write the stories that make you laugh while you type, stop at times to dab your tears, and give yourself a standing ovation when you finish. Make it count, every word, every sentence.

Get passionate about what you write, light yourself on fire and blaze a literary trail into your world.

Write, Write, Write!

SamTheWriter

www.SamTheWriter.com