Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Creating Diamonds

A FundsforWriters reader and loyal follower, who goes by the name of Sioux, had this hilarious blog post  of how I approach my blogging:

In her blog, she regularly compares various tasks or activities to the writing process. Struggling with a knot in your shoelace? Hope can connect it to the writing process. Burned your toast this morning? Hope can create a wonderful analogy about getting published, with your toast as a centerpiece. Did you have to remop your floor last night because someone tracked in some mud? Hope can help you out by telling you a story that will metamorphisize the filthy floor into a wonderful metaphor about revising... In fact, I think she is so gifted at it, she could blow her nose, compare the snot in the kleenex to what we "discard" as writers, and by the time you get to the end of her post, you're amazed.

I laughed my butt off reading that post! Then I thought about it. In the twelve years I've been writing editorials, and the couple of years I've blogged, I've developed a talent of seeing the world through a writer's eye. Every single moment in my life, from watching the news to fishing, from raising chickens to cooking raspberry cupcakes.

Every one of life's moments is a potential story.

"Where do you get your ideas?" is a common question asked of successful writers. In reality, their ideas come so natural to them at this point in their professional lives, that they don't have to think hard about their material. When writers start and stop in their creative process, their writer's eye and ear get rusty.

So many writers approach me saying they want to write, but then question whether they should, then say they'll wait until summer or when they retire because they have obligations. Some, like dieting or running, start with great intentions then fizzle as time goes on, always with a few never to return.

Maybe this is nature's way of culling writers who shouldn't be writers. Deciding not to become a writer earning a living at the craft is not a bad decision...if writing is not a good fit. Goodness knows we have gobs of writers out there now, too many of them not able to sell what they produce.

Last Friday, Anne Elliott wrote on the blog Writer Unboxed:

Now, writing is such an individual process that I would never, ever criticize anyone else’s. I don’t even really think there’s such a thing as bad advice on writing–just tips that work for some people and not others. But I confess that when I read that (someone's writing advice), my immediate mental response was, Oh my gracious Lord, really? Because if I followed that advice, I would never write another line.

No, I don't want to tell writers how to become writers, or how to coordinate their writing day. However, I will say this.

Being a writer isn't easy. It's not supposed to be. If you want to look for easy, get out. Get out now and find another interest. Diamonds are not common and not cheap. They come from many years of pressure. Good writing comes from the same habit.

So you keep at it. And when you realize you can't wake up and experience your world without thinking about where you could pitch that story, then you know you're on your way. A diamond in the rough...assuming you keep the pressure on.


Sioux Roslawski said...

As usual, great advice. Yes, constant pressure, regular tinkering, everyday examination of life's experiences...THAT is what will make you into a writer.

Carol J. Alexander said...

I have a sign on my wall. It reads, "What did I do today? Write it!"
When I'm stuck, need an idea or just a gentle reminder, that gets me going.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hope - may not be the right place for this comment. But you might find the link interesting. I met three crime writers recently and thought what they had to say was interesting (Dominique Manotti from France, Nii Ayikwei Parkes from Ghana and Margie Orford from South Africa). I blogged on them here http://wp.me/pDjed-Pp

Also Sioux is dead right. You do have a talent at turning any situation into a writing learning lesson. Which is one reason we subscribe.

widdershins said...

Yep ... even someone else's post about how you post is a teaching moment!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I am eagerly looking forward to your post on ---why navel lint is related to writing--because that will have deep meaning for me.

Hope Clark said...

Navel lint, huh? How about this...

We subconsciously collect ideas, experiences and emotion scarring throughout our lives. They build up like navel lint. But it's only when we did deep (clean out the belly button) and resurrect them not only for our stories but to learn from our life's lessons that they become of any use to us. Not that the lint is useful in its own right. It's just that the realization that the lint exists makes us pay more attention to what needs cleaning up as we go.

widdershins said...