Scott D. Parker
One of the ideas we had when we created Do Some Damage ten years ago was to talk about the writing process. We've done that, and continue to do so, but sometimes there's some advice so good, you just walk away from your keyboard.
Advice from a Veteran Writer
The Monday post on Dean Wesley Smith's blog was a fantastic way to kick-off the week. With permission, Dean shared writing advice from Joe Lansdale. A fellow Texan who lives in Nacogdoches, Lansdale lays out his philosophy of writing in a multi-page post from Facebook. I know it's multiple pages because I printed the thing out to have near at hand when I'm feeling low about writing.
Read it. Just read it.
A couple of days later, Dean excerpted a paragraph from Joe's piece. Pay attention to the last sentence.
“Write like everyone you know is dead. To hell with everyone else’s opinion when you write. Write for yourself. I don’t have a perfect reader in mind. That works for some, but it makes me write for them which means I might not be writing for me. I have no idea what anyone else will like. I only know what I like, so I write for me. It’s a wonderfully selfish moment. When I’m done, and the book or story is out there, then I hope a lot of folks like it. But face it, you can’t be universally admired, so don’t try to be.”
Yet More Writerly Advice
On the most recent episode of Fatman Beyond, writers Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin took questions from the audience. Usually, it's about the movies and comics and such. This time, we had a guy ask about writing advice. Paraphrased, here is what I captured from each of them.
Kevin: Your voice is your currency.
It's my voice. Like it or not, but it's me. Tell your story at all costs. That's what you've got. Live and die by your voice. You can't guarantee success, but you can make it perfect for you. So if no one else comes to the show, it's still you.
Nothing bad ever came from you doing you.
Marc: Always be making something. You'll get better at it. You'll keep making mistakes, but you'll learn, and then make new ones and then learn from those.
Iteration is what it's all about. Because someone may not buy your first or second or whatever thing, but when they finally sit up and take notice, you'll have a "barnful" of stuff that you've been making all the while.
You can't get better by reading or listening, but by making the thing. Make that thing true to who you are.
Encourage Others Because It Comes Back Around
How often do you talk to other about your writing career? For me, not often, but when those moments occur, I try to make it worthwhile.
I've got a new co-worker at the day job. Yesterday, she mentioned she wanted to write a book. I asked her what held her back. She came back with the same kinds of barriers you frequently hear, but it boils down to this: the critical voice keeps getting in the way and the idea of writing an entire book is so daunting, one just doesn't begin.
I chatted with her, giving her the pep talk I give to other writers--and sometimes myself--about writing with abandon and joy, track your daily word count as a default cheerleader, and keep that pesky critical voice out of your head.
I also told her that writing "The End" on drafts never gets old, but the first time is a Cloud 9 experience.
I also mentioned she out to set a start and end date (Memorial Day to Labor Day) and let that be her bookends.
She got excited. I did, too, because talking about writing and encouraging others is a thrill.
Hats off to Peter Mayhew, arguably one of the greatest cinematic sidekicks/partners in all of moviedom. Met him once here in Houston, late on one of the days, might have even been a Sunday. He was tired. My boy and I were, too. I'm not a huge autograph guy, but I wanted to meet Mayhew and be the millionth person to tell him how much I enjoyed his work. He was nice and gracious. Based on what I've been reading, that was how he was all the time.
That about wraps things up for another week. Hope y'all have a good weekend, and tune in next week when I'm going to review five of my favorite podcasts starting on Monday.
May the Fourth be with y'all. And go get some comics today!