"Writers are born. You either have what it takes or you don't, and if you don't you'll never get it." - James Scott Bell, from Plot & Structure.
Bell calls this The Big Lie. He'd always wanted to write, but didn't think he had what it took. Then he immersed himself in books on craft, putting techniques into practice. He wrote screenplays, which were optioned. He wrote novels, which were published. He proved The Big Lie was just that...a lie.
If we want our writing to break through, Bell offers the following tips for coaching ourselves to publication:
- Get motivated. Write an inspirational statement and tape it to the computer. Read books and author bios and imagine your picture on the back cover. Take writing seriously.
- Try stuff. Reading about writing won't make us better writers. We grow when we learn how to do something, then actually do it.
- Stay loose. When we're anxious about our writing, it shows on the page. We need to loosen up and let our creativity have its way with us.
- "First get it written, then get it right." For me, this makes all the difference in the world. Our job with the first draft is to get the story down. Author/Agent Mandy Hubbard wrote a great post about this here.
- Set a quota. Bell suggests a word quota instead of a time limit, since minutes can easily tick by while the writer stares at a blank screen. He quotes Peter DeVries who once said, "I only write when I'm inspired, and I make sure I'm inspired every morning at 9 a.m."
- Don't give up. We've all heard that the difference between successful and unsuccessful writers is persistence. Bell reminds us to keep writing.
I used to believe The Big Lie, but not anymore. How about you?
Now that you've read Bell's encouraging words, check out why you probably still suck as a writer over at terribleminds.com. Read it all the way to the end...there are some gems in there!
photo credit: flickr