Daily Writing Tip 47 of 100, Thoughts to Help You Press On

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Thoughts to Help You Press On

Source –Writing the Short Story, by Jack M Bickham

I’ve said it before, but it should be remembered always: Good stories aren’t written; they’re rewritten. No matter how bad you may feel about the pages you produce today, they’re better than no pages at all. You can always fix them later. Your job at the moment is to produce something concrete, which you can revise later.

False starts, messy transitions, recalcitrant characters, and all manner of other disasters befall every writer during first draft. Pros don’t let this discourage or frighten them.

Most excuses for not writing are not good enough.

I wish I could take this to heart better than I do. I know I’ve written (in my useless head) more excuses for not writing than I have produced actual pages.

Daily Writing Tip 33 of 100, Learn About the Hero’s Journey

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Learn About the Hero’s Journey

Source – The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back.

Anyone that creates anything should read and study Joseph Campbell and the ideas of the universal myth and hero’s journey. Just be careful about it.

My personal opinion is that the use of the Hero’s Journey Monomyth as the only legitimate scaffold on which to build a plot is oversimplified and overused. If I have to see or read one more story where the protagonist has to (or appear to) “die” at the climax of the story only to be reborn as a great hero… well, I’m sure I will see it more than one more time. Everything – especially big budget films and young adult novels has to follow this same script or it won’t get made.

I think sometime I will work at scouring my dreams and fears and come up with my own monomyth. Maybe everybody should do that.

Daily Writing Tip 21 of 100, Proceed From the Dream Outward

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Proceed From the Dream Outward

Source – The Novel of the Future, by Anaïs Nin

It is interesting to return to the original definition of a word we use too often and too carelessly. The definition of a dream is: ideas and images in the mind not under the command of reason. It is not necessarily an image or an idea that we have during sleep. It is merely an idea or image which escapes the control of reasoning or logical or rational mind. So that dream may include reverie, imagination, daydreaming, the visions and hallucinations under th influence of drugs – any experience which emerges from the realm of the subconscious. These various classifications are merely ways to describe different states or levels of consciousness. The important thing to learn, from art and from literature in particular, is the easy passageway and relationship between them. Neurosis makes a division and sets up defensive boundaries. But the writer can learn to walk easily between one realm and the other without fear, interrelate them, and ultimately fuse them.

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For this the writer has to learn the passageways. Those passageways are like the locks of canals, feeding each other while controlling levels to prevent flooding. The discipline and form of an artist’s work are set in the same system to prevent flooding. The amateur drowns. The writer has to remain open, fluid, pursue and obey images which his conscious structure tends to break or erase.

This comes back to imagination and courage. Do you have the courage to let your imagination guide your work? Or is the inner editor always there, saying things like, “Nobody is going to understand this,” or “This isn’t what the paying public wants to read right now.” He will be there, saying those things – but you don’t have to listen.

The inner editor might be right… but he is still an asshole – and you shouldn’t listen to assholes.

Daily Writing Tip 1 of 100, Draft a Mission Statement For Your Work

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Draft a Mission Statement For Your Work

Source – “Writing Tools – 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” by Roy Peter Clark.

I cannot overstate the value of this exercise. It gave me a view over the horizon as I drafted the story. This 250-word mission statement, which took about ten minutes to write, helped create a 25,000-word series. It provided the language I needed to share my hopes with other writers, editors, and readers. It could be tested, expanded, revised – and it was – during the writing process.

What a great idea! At work, I am always derisive and suspicious of corporate Mission Statements and such – they are classic vessels of mendacity. However, a personal mission statement – especially one tied to a specific piece of work – will be such a focusing… a crystallizing snip of text. It will be a weapon to fight procrastination, general fuzziness, and fatal ennui.

I have a short story I want a first draft finished by Wednesday and have been waffling terribly. This is (right now) a perfect opportunity to write out a mission statement for the story – then hammer out a few thousand words.

Later….