Blog Archives

Who Supports You?

Being a writer is a terrible idea. Welcome to a life of chasing mystical ideas through the ether, constant rejection and of course, ever present, crippling self-doubt. The good thing about this is that no writer, or any creative person, probably, would stop for those reasons. You make your life harder than it has to be, you work twice, three times as much as most people for little or no reward. Why? Because there’s no alternative. You can’t stop, so you carry on, slaving away. If you do step away for a while that’s fine because you’ll be back. We always come back. For most writers, I think the detractions are obvious and plentiful. That got me thinking about the shaky, frail support beams that somehow remain – where do they come from?

vonnegut-quote-go-into-the-arts

 

Yourself

Perhaps the most precarious, this is number one for any writer because we for the most part work alone. If you are writing, then you are supporting yourself as a writer. You are winning. If you are not writing, don’t worry. As far as I can tell regular bouts of self-sabotage and loathing are part of the process. Eventually you will hate yourself enough that you’ll get back to work. Here are some ideas to help you be more supportive of the very, very stupid path you have chosen (has chosen you?) to be on.

Write – There’s a lot of banter in the writing world about writing every day, getting your butt in the chair and blah blah. This has merit because you are not much of a writer if you aren’t writing, but at the same time, not all writers write every day. That’s right, I said it and it’s true, say it with me, NOT ALL WRITERS WRITE EVERY DAY! There is no need to hate yourself for not preforming this miraculous feat. If you do write every day, that is awesome, but if you don’t, that’s FINE. I think the most important thing here is that you write regularly and always have a project on the go. Don’t stagnate.

Make a Space – One of the best things I ever did for myself was to make a space. I do almost all of my work in my office. I love my office and it loves me. It’s quiet, it’s full of things that make me feel awesome and that’s where I work, so when I’m in there, I work. I highly suggest that if you don’t have a space, you make one. I don’t care if it’s in your damn closet, or a backpack full of crap and a favorite chair at the library, have a space that is conducive to your writing, whatever that means to you. Then go there, a lot.

Never Stop Getting Better – Like any art, there is no proper way to be a writer. There are also no limits. No matter how good you are, you can always be better and the best writers know this. Read books about writing, take classes, join writing groups, go to conferences, work on your setting, your dialogue, your grammar. One of the greatest things you can do for yourself as a writer is to continually invest in yourself. Valuing yourself and your talent enough to spend actual dollars (!?) is a powerful show of support for the bedraggled writer in you.

Your Inner Circle

I’ve been pretty lucky with this one. My immediate family and friends are supportive for the most part, and if not supportive, then at least not unsupportive. One thing I will say about this is that things did change a lot when I first was published. The balance of power shifted in my favour when that finally happened.

“Oh, so you’re a writer.”

“Yes, yes I am.”

“Have you published anything?”

“Yes, yes I have.” Internal dialogue – several things, multiple things, so eat it, eat it, you smug, doubting bastard! Wipe that damn smirky look off of your face, jerk.

So if you are published, keep that in mind at all times. You did it, you made it, you got there. If you aren’t, yet, then just take yourself seriously as a writer and hopefully some of that will rub off on the people around you. If not, then your inner circle sucks, so focus all your efforts on supporting your damn self. You might want to take a long hard look at who makes up your inner circle and toss them accordingly.

The Rest of Them

We get, or don’t get, support from the rest in a myriad of ways. Having a Facebook page, a blog, a newsletter, a Twitter account are all ways that you can reach out and have people reach back. The key here, as with all things writing related, seems to be consistency and patience. Whatever you chose to do to glean support from the rest of them, be more consistent about it than I am. Also, be patient. If you start a blog, you probably won’t get thousands of followers right away. Stick with it, little grasshopper, writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

My husband recently introduced me to Patreon, which is a neat idea where creators have a page where they post things related to their work and people can sign up to sponsor them and get perks with their sponsorship. I haven’t done it, but there are writers on there, so that might be something worth looking into. Check out his page at www.patreon.com/jeremychaulk

 

Writing sucks and it’s hard. The other side is that it’s awesome, liberating and limitless. Always support yourself and never stop striving to do better. This is a tough, lonely road, so when you can’t get yourself going, and there will be times like that, support others. Buy books, go to readings, leave reviews, follow blogs and maybe sponsor a few creators on Patreon. Give others the support you want for yourself and it will all come back. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Advertisements

Writer’s Digest Annual Conference – Pitch Slam

As I mentioned in my last, long ago post, I will be attending the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this August in New York. I’ve never been to a writing conference before and I’m pretty excited. It’s still a few months away, but there is quite a bit of preparation involved and I’m making some progress on that. Aside from the many sessional offerings, I’m also doing the pitch slam, which is both an exciting and deeply terrifying notion. Since I have no experience in this regard, I read some blogs by people who have attended writing conferences with pitch slams to get some idea of what to expect. Some were very encouraging and some read like the stuff of nightmares. One thing they did agree on is that I’ll need a pitch and I’ll need to know what agents I want to pitch to.

The Pitch. Short, sweet and well rehearsed seems to be the consensus there. I don’t have a pitch, per se, but I have a few similar notions from various attempts at query letters and such that I can get started with. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about creating a pitch and made a lot of notes, so that’s something I’ll be working on for the next little while. Last year my closest writing pal passed away unexpectedly, so I guess my dogs will be judging my delivery. I figure the German shepherd will be the most critical.

Nuka

Nuka: Your book SUCKS!

 

Know what agents you want to pitch to. Here’s where a lot of the blogs I read took on a frightening tone – long lines, lots of agents not at every pitch session, mean agents, tired agents, horrible ghoul type agents sent from hell to destroy your soul, basically the pitch slam sounds like a land of chaos, where nothing makes sense and everyone is confused. Maybe this is accurate, maybe not, I won’t know until I get there. I figure the best I can do is be prepared and just think of it as an adventure. My own brain and its horrible, horrible thoughts are what screw me around more than anything else, so I’ll just be as prepared as I can and see what happens.

Writer’s Digest has a list of the agents attending, so I made a list of agents that represent my genre. Now I’ll research them all further and rank them in order of who I’d like to pitch to most to least. Once I’m at the pitch slam I can use that based on what agents are there and how long their lines are. Seems like a reasonable approach to me, I guess I’ll find out!

Writer’s Digest Conference 2016

The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference is taking place August 12 – 14 at the New York Hilton Midtown, and guess what, I’ll be there!

I’ve never been to a writer’s conference. I’ve thought about attending before, but since I live all tucked away up here in Canada under a pile of snow, it’s a bit of an undertaking and it has never quite come together for me. This is the year!  I’ve read Writer’s Digest magazine for years and used their Second Draft services as well. I follow the blogs of their editors and enjoy their articles and tweets. These are informative people and it will be pretty cool to meet them in person.

I’ve also never been to New York. This adventure is still in the early planning stages, but I’ve bought my registration for the conference, including the pitch slam and the hotel is booked. What to expect from a writing conference? Well, I really don’t know. The schedule is just starting to take shape on their website, but it looks like many incredible authors and agents will be giving workshops and participating in panels on many different aspects of the writing life. If nothing else, it will be great to be surrounded by a bunch of other enthusiastic writers for a few days. I like my own company as much as the next writer, but a little boost of comradery in this largely solitary pursuit can go a long way.

The next few months will be spent making travel arrangements and deciding which of the many offerings of the conference I want to attend beside the pitch slam. I’ve got some research to do about what to expect and how to be prepared, especially for the pitch slam, but I’m excited about this opportunity. I look forward to meeting some like-minded folks and maybe even get a few requests for my manuscript. There will certainly be plenty to learn.

If anyone knows some good resources to help me prepare or if you’ve been to one of these before, please comment! I’d love to hear about your experiences.

The early bird pricing ended January 31, but you can still register until April 1 for a better rate. I’ll be blogging about this more in the months ahead, I’m sure. One thing we know as writers is that you have to continually invest in the craft of writing and this seems like a great opportunity to do so.

Check out the website for all the details, see you in New York!