Quotes for Writers from Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never scoring. – Bill Copeland

It takes five years to break in and fifteen years to support yourself as a writer. – Sue Grafton

With the power of conviction there is no sacrifice. – Pat Benatar

I wrote for twelve years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn’t all that important to me. – Lisa Alther

“Now” is the operative word. Everything you’ve put in your way is just a method of putting off the hour when you could actually be doing your dream. – Barbara Sher

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

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Do Some Writing

Reprinted from the WordCraft newsletter on BackWash.

It was late at night. I wandered into a Backwash chat. Had a good time. And I found myself saying “yes.” So, here I am, sending you a newsletter about writing, writers, books, literature, etc. And I have a difficult job to fill the shoes of she who precedes me. I hope I can do that.

What makes me think I can do this? I’ve taught writing for more years than I care to remember. I have published poetry. I read too much. I love words. I live to write.

Writing by nature is a lonely profession. No one sits with you and tells you what to write. You are alone with your thoughts. You sit alone and enter the world you are writing. And nothing frightens an artist (for that’s what you are) more than a blank sheet of paper. Whether you’re a creative writer or a writer of non-fiction, it is your goal to fill that page with words that will move people.

But there comes a time when you have to move out of your own world. You need contacts with other writers, readers who can critically look at your words. For many years not only did I spend time writing but also searched for a group of like-minded people. I was not only isolated by my passion, but by geography. I traveled the 120 miles to Carson City, Nevada, and the members of Ash Canyon Poets nurtured my growing art.

My point? Hie thee to a writers’ group. If you are in an isolated part of the country, search the Internet. There are groups of writers who will welcome you. There are fiction writers, fantasy writers, poets, mystery writers, non-fiction writers out there for you to find.

Also, read. If you are into anthropological fiction, find out what Jean Auel is writing. Who are some of her emulators and what are they writing? If you like lawyer/crime, see what John Grisham is doing now. If you like erotica, check out what is selling at this point in time.

This is enough for now. I do want to extend an invitation to anyone who has questions, suggestions or opinions to contact me. Your ideas are the ideas I build on for my columns and this newsletter.

Until next month, sharpen your pencils, file down your fingernails, and do some writing.

Paracosm: Your Own Little World

A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world involving humans and/or animals, or perhaps even fantasy or alien creations. Often having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time: months or even years.

via Paracosm – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I was told I was living in my own little world, as a kid. I haven’t fully moved in or integrated into this one as an adult. I do acknowledge it’s existence. It’s nice having a world of your own making to fall back into. I’ve always got company there. The things I like are just waiting for me.

What would your paracosm look like? What would you find there? Likely all sorts of things you put away to make room for being an adult, a Mother, a Father, a full time employee, a career-minded individual, a bill-paying tax payer, and all of those things we do as responsible adults in the real world.

Take a minute to dip a toe into your own little world. Remember who you are, the core of yourself. You are more than the adult you had to grow up to be.

Lava Doesn’t Care if it Hurts Your Feelings

Sometimes odd phrases just pop into my head. They don’t make sense in a logical way, but they reflect my sense of irony and personal logic. Today I’ve been watching a marathon of TV shows about geography of the planet.

Chances are people assume geography is about knowing where places are, like towns and countries. That’s only a small part. Geography is as vast as our planet, it is the study of our planet, the elements that create our planet and continue to change it. I love the science of geography. Everyone should take a moment to think about geography once a day, it keeps you humble to know we mean nothing to the planet we live on. That must be why “lava doesn’t care if it hurts your feelings” popped into my head this afternoon and made me laugh.

Geography (Definition from Dictionary.com) –

the science dealing with the areal differentiation of the earth’s surface, as shown in the character, arrangement, and interrelations over the world of such elements as climate, elevation, soil, vegetation, population, land use, industries, or states, and of the unit areas formed by the complex of these individual elements.

Draw the globe, the world with it’s land masses, as correct as you can by memory. Start without looking at anything, just to see what you can do. Do you remember what the world looks like?

Do you Want to be a News Writer?

This is cut and pasted from a job posted by CTV looking for a news writer out in BC, Canada. Although this isn’t a job for someone just starting out it is great to read, to see what they expect, what a news writer should know and be working with. CTV is a very big mass media corporation.

News Writer

Salary: Commensurate with qualifications and experience
Hours of Work: 40 hours per week. Overtime as required.

Responsibilities:

  • Writing for newscasts, features or programme segments with minimal direction and supervision.
  • Adapting to rapidly changing programme situations.
  • Responsible for having items written and work with editors for final cut for the five and six o’clock shows.

Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated ability to write to pictures an asset
  • Experience in broadcast writing essential.
  • Full knowledge of industry practices and procedures regarding news production and writing.
  • Excellent research, analytical and communication skills.
  • Good knowledge of legislation governing libel.
  • Strong creative abilities and leadership skills.
  • Strong journalistic skills and editorial sense.
  • Thoroughness and accuracy.
  • Ability to deal with multiple demands and pressure of on-air deadlines and corollary need to make immediate and sound decisions.
  • Knowledge of the history, geography, and challenges facing the region is desirable.
  • Extensive knowledge of British Columbia mandatory.

Create Place Names

It’s interesting how places get their names. Place (towns, cities, villages, provinces, states, etc.)  names tend to come from local geography or early settlers in the town. Other places are named after something prominent in the area.

Sometimes they get shortened over time, for instance, Grrltown becomes Grrlton. How many unique and odd place names can you come up with?

  • Squirrelville
  • Purple Bay
  • Squat Mountain
  • Treetown
  • Blank River

Hyperlocal, What is It?

I’ve seen the term hyperlocal come up three times lately. I decided to spend some time to find out what it is exactly and how it is being used.
Of course, Wikipedia comes up first in the results I get from Google. : Hyperlocal –

refers to the emergent ecology of data (including textual content), aggregators, publication mechanism and user interactions and behaviours which centre on a resident of a location and the business of being a resident. Hyperlocal content, often referred to as hyperlocal news, is characterized by three major elements. Firstly, it refers to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area. Secondly, it is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area. Thirdly, it is created by a resident of the location (but this last point is discussed because for example a photo can be hyperlocal but not locally produced).

Hyperlocal World – Developments in news, people and the first law of geography.
HyperlocalBlogger.com – Tips and discussion for local bloggers.
Hyperlocal 101 – Tools and technique for the hyperlocal revolution.

Blog TO is a hyperlocal news blog from Toronto. It comes from a network, Freshdaily.ca (site is not up).

Other hyperlocal blog networks:

Individual hyperlocal content blogs:

If hyperlocal blogging is interesting you take a look at TwitterLocal, which gives you a Twitter feed by location and LocalTweeps which is a directory built with zip codes. Also, look for blog directories based on regional locations, each blog you find there is a possible source of news and events locally. You may find other locals to post their perspectives, advertising, photos and news stories on your hyperlocal blog. Of course everything local is a marketing/ promotion resource for a hyperlocal blog. You don’t need to be in to top rank of international lists for blogs, keep your focus on local in every way.

The links for networks and especially those for individual hyperlocal blogs are just a few I found when I went looking. There are masses of sites once you know what to look for. Some don’t use the term hyperlocal, they may call themselves citizen journalists, or maybe cell journalists.

Never Never Land

You have the choice of living on a planet that never gets hot or a planet that never gets cold. They both have the same geography: oceans, mountains, lakes, beaches, deserts and so on. The only real difference is that one never experiences winter and the other never experiences summer. Which do you choose and why?

Don’t Bore Yourself

When your writing bores even you it’s time to get a grip and make something change. Here are ideas from – “A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves.

Lazy Writers

Play word games, experiment with language, audition words. Use the thesaurus, appropriate a set of paint chips from Home Depot and study the names of colours, take sensory inventories, practice dialogue, eavesdrop on conversations, read Raymond Carver, Pam Houston, Don DeLillo, Lorrie Moorre. Reread your work and mark doors and windows. Open and enter during writing exercises.

Same Old Territory Writers

Free-write using the writing exercise prompts, writing only new material for the next month. No rewriting or editing allowed! Ban those characters from any further appearances in any stories from now on. Send them to the Retirement Home for Overused Characters. Flip everything: gender, age, profession, politics, hair colour, diction, intelligence, geography, sexual preferences, Everything.

Holding Back

Ask what it was exactly that made something terrible? In what ways was it difficult? What did the pain feel like? Use concrete details and specific images. Use words that describe the terrible, difficult, painful. Write through the cliché with a fresh simile or metaphor. Ask what a broken heart feels like, looks like. What other body parts are affected and how? Find fresh images. Go to your own experience, bring to mind a memory of a time you were brokenhearted, when you sobbed like a child, when you flew into a rage: describe your behaviour and your feelings. Take the time to stay with the feeling and write down what you experience.

Playing Safe

Write what matters. Be a passionate writer. Don’t waste time writing about anything you don’t care about. Also, for a reader to be involved in what she’s reading, something must be at stake. There must be some kind of tension in the writing to keep the reader’s attention. Crank up the heat, put some obstacles in the way of your characters. When a writer is playing safe you can bet the censor or critic is somehow nearby.

Too Comfortable

Just like the antidote for Playing Safe, this writer needs to create some tension, crank up the heat, experience a little confusion. Recommended: change the time and place of the daily writing practice. Raise the bar to more pages everyday. Switch genres, try something new. Don’t fit so easily in the groove, feel the bumps and ridges, the sharp edge. Let your writing surprise you, keep you awake at night. If a writer is too comfortable, you can be there aren’t any risks being taken. No risks = boring writing.