That’s right, you suck – with a capital S-U-C-K!
Your dialogue is sophomoric. Your grammar and punctuation are an insult to Strunk and ridiculed by White. Your characters are weak and your storyline has less movement than a flatline.
Okay, I admit, that was harsh and reviews like that are the exception, not the rule. In my opinion, the worst writer in the world, whoever he/she may be, doesn’t deserve something like that. But, the point I’m trying to make is, if you were to receive that exact review on one of your works, would it be enough to make you put down your pen forever? Would it throw you into a dejected state, which left you so depressed that your creative juices stopped flowing permanently? If you’re anything like me, a review like that would be just the needle to prick your determination into doing better than you ever thought possible, (called the OH YEAH? factor in my house.) So, if an occasional heckler isn’t enough to cause you to end your love affair with the written word, why do so many of us allow our own minds to sabotage our goals and dreams?
I receive letters all of the time from writers who say, ‘I’d love to appear on Ink Drop Interviews, if I ever finish the book I’m working on’.
Don’t you mean ‘when’? And we all know how it goes from there, ‘I have a day job’, ‘No time’, ‘My family thinks I’m wasting my life on a pipe dream’, ‘The kids keep me hopping between soccer practice and 4-H’, ‘I’m mentally distracted’, and the big one, ‘I don’t think my writing is good enough’.
Writers come in all shapes and sizes, figuratively. Some have day jobs, others live in poverty in the name of creating their masterpiece. Some take notes on the fly, jotting them down on matchbook covers and cocktail napkins to be deciphered at a later time, while others create elaborate outlines almost as long as the finished novel.
There have been scores of articles written on this subject and I doubt that I am going to impart any words of wisdom that haven’t been said before, but as a huge proponent of paying it forward and my humble attempt to showcase interested Indies, I feel it can never be said too many times.
My take on the process and the only universal advice, commit to the journey. Definitely worth repeating… COMMIT TO THE JOURNEY!
Those four words are the difference between you, Indie, and the James Pattersons of the world. Toward the end of this article, I am going to include links to a man and his work that I recently ran across and a post on his blog that I think you all should read. His name is Casey Neistat. Some of you might have heard of him, but more of you, probably not. He is a director, producer, and the creator of the HBO series, ‘The Neistat Brothers’. He has also been creating popular You Tube videos since 2010, and that is where I first ran across him.
One video in particular caught my attention. It wasn’t the best video as far as effects or sound. It didn’t feature any high-profile actors. There was no ‘set’ to speak of. What it did have – was a message. You can view Casey’s work HERE. From there, I wandered over to his blog and read a post that put things into perspective for me. The post was entitled, I Can’t Write Real Good. In it, he describes how he isn’t the best at grammar and how he isn’t as concerned with ‘what’ he shoots a movie with as much as the finished product, among other things.
Writing is very much the same. We may not have the amount of time we feel we need, or the right atmosphere, or the best spelling in the world, but why should we let that stop us from what is in us to do? If you write because you believe it will yield wealth, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but…. Put the pen down. If you think writing will earn you accolades and envy from your peers, family, or enemies, again…. Put the pen down. If you write because you think it will quadruple your Twitter following, give you an easy-in with the ladies/men…. You know what to do.
There is one and only one reason to write. We write because we have something in us, whether it be a message or a story, that we want to tell. If we get rich doing it – SCORE. But, if you stand everyone who has ever written against everyone who has ever ‘made it big’ writing, it would look something like the little dot on a map that represents Tampa against every other city in the United States.
Casey has the right idea. If you have something to say, a message to share with the world, share it! Don’t let your inner critic sour your creative juice. Sure, grammar, spelling, and such are important, but not the whole loaf of bread. Without name-dropping, a number of years ago, I met a writer known by many, who is the first to admit, he can not spell. He often uses the joke that his spelling is so bad even auto-correct comes up empty. Yet he lives (and then some) on what he makes writing. He is the one that first told me, “People want to read great stories. They don’t count your commas.” Another well-known writer I’ve met spends more time on the outline than on the actual writing of the book. I once met a man at a writer’s group that when asked to share what he was working on, pulled a bazillion crumpled pieces of blue paper towel out of his pockets and proceeded to lay them out in front of us. He works on the maintenance crew at a college and has five kids at home, so his writing is done in snippets here and there while at work. (He has since gone on to write 4 NYT Bestsellers).
So the message I am trying to pass on is don’t let anyone, including yourself, thwart your writing dreams. You may not be the best writer, and you may never see big money, awards, or even best seller status. But, if you’re writing for the right reason, none of that will matter. If you don’t believe me, take it from a guy who has poor grammar and never finished school and yet still has his own HBO series and 41K Twitter followers. He has something to say, a story to tell, and that’s what people are really looking for. They want to be entertained, or informed, or touched on an emotional level. If you can do that… they’ll never count the commas.
Get to know Casey Neistat and his work
*This post originally appeared on Ink Drop Interviews.