Write on, Wednesday: The Art of War for Writers

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By Leslie Lindsay

The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises by James Scott Bell (Dec 9, 2009) (retrieved from Amazon.com on 8.8.12)

We writers are an odd group.  I don’t mean that in a bad way.  I know because we work really hard at nothing all day.  No, no…that came out wrong, too.  It seems so easy to be a writer, but alas it is not.  You see, to be  a good writer, one must really have the drive.  One must really have patience, creativity, observation skills out the waazoo…and have thick skin.  Really thick rhino skin. 

About 10 days ago, I was really struggling with my writing.  I was cruising through my manuscript on my laptop nodding here and there and thinking, “Hummm…not bad.”  And then I got to a place where I thought the whole darn thing just sucked.  I wanted to stuff it all and move on with my life.  After all, I was packing on pounds from writing at my favorite coffee shop (I swear just smelling coffee and carbs adds inches),  and figured no one will really care about my story, I might as well just call it a day and get back to the gym.  (“Body by Caribou”). 

Then one of my writerly friends suggested THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS (James Scott Bell, 2009).  I loved this book!   I can’t tell you enough good things about it (you can read my review on GoodReads).  But here is one thing that really resonated with me: 

The long-term career writer needs these skills: (pg. 11-12)

  • Desire.  Hunger inside of you…sacrifice time and money and endure frustrations. 
  • Discipline.  You gotta produce.  Quota a day, 6 days a week.  Give yourself a word count and stick to it.
  • Committment to Craft.  You can’t just “dash off a book.”  You need to learn your craft to do it well. 
  • Patience.  It’s takes time.  But you can cut down the time if you have the three steps above (desire, discipline, and committment)
  • Honesty.  You gotta confront your weaknesses as a writer
  • Willingness to learn.  No chip on the shoulder here.  Learn all you can.  You can never stop learning.
  • Rhino Skin.  Learn from every rejection and don’t let rejection hold you back.
  • Long-term View.  Don’t think, “Do I have a book inside of me?”  Think:  “Do I have a writer inside of me?”  And answer YES!!
  • Talent.  This is the least important.  Everyone has some talent.  It’s what you do with it that counts.

How’d you do on that list?  Any weaknesses?  Be honest.  Can you turn them around?  The book actually suggests you journal about this list.  And then look back on it a year from now to see where you are in the process of becoming/being a writer, not “just” getting a book out. 

So, I have some revisions to work on…better write on, Wednesday!

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