August 7, 2013

Insecure Writers' Support Group - let's encourage each other

once again, it’s time for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, hosted by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh. this month, i’ve asked other writers to encourage you.

the response was much larger than i’d expected and i want to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed. i had hoped to include a little blurb about each contributor, but due to the length of this post, i’ve only linked to their blog or website. even then, this is still pretty long.

Heather M. Gardner:

Best writing advice I’ve ever received, from numerous sources, WRITE.

Donna Hole:

This is not the typical quote, but it is what I try to do in my women’s fiction and contemporary writing. Well, works for fantasy too in creating believable characters: Don’t let the daily grind go to waste. Find the germs for stories in the mundane, but mix in something extra, that what-if factor....You’re limited only by your personal creativity and your ability to connect disparate events and characters to create grist for a story. (Writing For The Soul, Jerry B. Jenkins, page 81)

Annalisa Crawford:

The most important thing I’ve learnt is not to give up, that what one editor/agent dislikes, another will love, and that it’s not personal!

Angela Ackerman:

I think the most encouraging thing I’ve learned from writing is this: we are not alone. The writing path is filled with many wonderful people who have the same goals, and we can support, encourage, teach and cheer one another on during the journey. Writers embody the word “giving” and this is a wonderful community to belong too. Help is everywhere, in all forms, and all we have to do is reach out to get it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh:

A lot of this business is about timing, so don’t get discouraged if your time hasn’t come yet.

Toi Thomas:

After being creativity (sic), and professional, and diligent as a writer, the next step for me is to be a little selfless. I’ve learned to reach out and help other authors in anyway I can. I promote books and authors because I think authors should be just as important to the world of entertainment as music groups or movie stars.

Yolanda Renee:

My one suggestion for a struggling writer would be to follow Al Diaz, the Father Dragon. His posts are full of inspiration and advice for the soul.

Robin Lee Hatcher:

One of the most encouraging things I’ve learned over the years is that I cannot trust my “feelings” when it comes to my writing. Whether I feel it is great or horrible, my feelings are untrustworthy. Much of writing, at least for me, happens in the subconscious, both story and craft. Even when I am feeling like a wretched writer, what shows up on the page is not necessarily wretched. So I press on and don’t allow “feelings” to derail me.

Susan Roebuck:

1. Think of your logline: Who is your character? What are they feeling? What do they learn? 2. Attract the reader: Show the world an intriguing setting. Foreshadow and event. Get the reader in the right mood by setting the tone.

Margo Berendsen:

My only “real” writing encouragement came from my high school English teachers, who loved my essays and creative writing. That was a long, long, long time ago and encouragement (from the outside) has been slim pickings since then. Critique partners are great at pointing out sentences they like, maybe a character they “identify with” or a piece that “has potential”, but encouragement comes mostly in the form of “we know what you're going through, we're going through it too.”

I have found my greatest encouragement has come from the words themselves, especially the ones that pour out of me at times with a will of their own, and from the characters that keep stirring in my head, begging for their story to be told. I imagine them up there, hoping for life, wincing when I “don't quite get them yet”, touching down on the page but only half-formed, still a little shy, sending me hints about their passions and fears but only opening up gradually as we get to know each other better.

Each little insight is an encouragement, and even the setbacks (when a critique partners says “your character is too whiny!”) have been encouragements on the way, because they usually point me closer to the heart of the character. They challenge me to think deeper, to search harder, so that I'm able to find and release more of the real character and less of my own self transposed on them.

Karen Witemeyer:

My favorite encouraging verse that keeps me going when the writing gets hard - Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Mary Connealy:

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. On that fateful day when I received my first contract, I had 20 finished books on my computer. Now, if you do that, if you write all those years and finally sell a book, they say, “She never gave up on herself! She’s living the Great American Dream! She worked hard and persevered and finally she triumphed over the odds.”

If you do that, write for all those years, and NEVER get a book published, they say you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and they try to get you on some medication and maybe in a ‘special facility’ under 24 hour observation (and they might take away your belt and shoe laces!). So I got a book published (and since then 26 other books!) and here I am, walking around free. Stick with it (and watch out for white coated men with a net).

Lisa J. Yarde:

Some of my favorite quotes can be found here: Timothy McSweeney's. 1) “Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts…”

2) “It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce ‘espresso’ like ‘expresso.’”

Mark Koopmans:

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” - Ernest Hemingway

Kaki Warner:

If you believe in your story, and you love your characters—warts and all—and their story seems worth telling, then do it. It might take you 25 years to get it down right, but if you give up, you and they are left forever in the shadows of your imagination. I thought Brady and Jessica (from Pieces of Sky) deserved their time in the sun. And after a quarter of a century, they got it. Don't give up. Ever.

Michelle here...

wow! thank you again to everyone who sent me something.

reading these has reminded me that no matter how long we’ve been writing, or where we are in our writing journey, or how many books we’ve published or not published, or how well-known or obscure we are, we all have this insane thing called writing in common. we all live with characters in our heads. we all have the insatiable, sometimes overwhelming, need to get those characters and their stories onto paper or computer screens so they don’t drive us to the brink of insanity.

and even when we want to give up writing because it’s become this wild beast we can’t tame, we still go back to it. no matter how much we try to deny it or run from it, we are still writers.


Unknown said...

Gosh! What a lot of wise words. I love the one about believing in yourself. This is an uplifting post, Michelle - thank you (and thank you for including me!)

Yolanda Renée said...

"I got a book published (and since then 26 other books!) and here I am, walking around free. Stick with it (and watch out for white coated men with a net)." My favorite advice from Mary Connealy! Made me laugh!

Awesome advice all - thanks for sharing! Any yes Father Dragon Rocks the inspiration!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some great advice! Glad the response was so good. And Yolanda mentioned Al - that is just awesome.

Karen Walker said...

Susan, what a cool idea to include the wisdom of other ISWG members. This is very inspiring. Thanks.

Margo Berendsen said...

It didn't seem long at all to me; I wanted it to keep going! I could soak up encouragement like this all day long. Thank you for doing this!

Never thought of Philippians 1:6 applied to writing but I'll never forget that now!

Ruth Kyser said...

We can all use encouragement in our writing journey. Thank you to all those writers who have 'bared their souls' to give us hope.

Isis Rushdan said...

Lots of wisdom here. I totally agree with Annalisa and Alex.

Top Spot Photography by Janene Snyder said...

I had a friend notice the circles under my eyes and tenderly put her arm around me and asked me what was wrong. I went on to confide in her that this character in my book is driving me crazy and won't let me sleep until I get him figured out. She looked at me like I was insane. *Sigh*

Anonymous said...

Some wonderful pieces of advice! Thanks for gathering them together and good luck with the writing.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good way to put it, "...we all live with characters in our heads...we all...have the need to get those characters and their stories onto they don't drive us to the brink of insanity..."

Sounds about right. :-) That's the process that makes us a writer. The need to tell a story or share an adventure.

Happy writing!


Anonymous said...

These are good bits of wisdom and encouragement! Thanks for sharing.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Wonderful advice and inspiring words! Thanks for sharing it, Michelle.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Michelle, thanks for using my advice.
Just a word of warning here.

There is actual documented evidence that suggests people get dumber when they listen to me.

So good luck.

Unknown said...

Those are awesome!! So uplifting from our writer friends!

Heather M. Gardner said...


Lots of great advice and we all need it!

Thanks for doing this great post!


Anonymous said...

Very inspiring words! I agree with Angela about the number of other writers are there willing to help you. It's been my experience that there are many writers, including yourself, who willingly share their expertise and thoughts.

Great IWSG post!

Kim Lajevardi
(This Writer's Growing)

Anonymous said...

Thanks you so much for the links. I shall have a great deal of fun poking through them. :)

Diana Wilder said...

What a wonderful, thought-provoking distillation of wisdom and humor! Thanks - Now to go and read some more...

Diana at About Myself By Myself

Angela Ackerman said...

Wow, what a great collection of insight and quotes to keep us all trucking along. Thanks so much for asking me to be a part of it! :)


Unknown said...

Great collection of thoughts from many many writers I truly respect. Thank you for sharing!

dolorah said...

A lot of great words there. Thank you for collecting these for us.


Melissa Amateis said...

So many great, encouraging quotes here. There have been (thankfully, precious few) times I've wanted to quit writing. But then I looked at my future and there was this gaping emptiness. If I couldn't write, what would I do? I can never quit. I can take breaks, but a writer I am and a writer I will always be.

Unknown said...

Just joined the ISWG and good to have discovered you, Michelle. I'm on my fifth children's book, indie author, and we all need encouragement. :0)

Unknown said...

I'm a Homeschool Mom also, I'm looking forward to following your blog.