May 11, 2013

Keep Going, Part Five

Posted in Momentum in writing, slumps in writing, Stages, Success tagged , , at 1:22 pm by Rebecca Hein

Due to my recent success in finding paid writing work, I now see the full value of action and the corresponding danger of feelings. Writing, writing, writing my way to proficiency has given me ability I can count on. Doubting the worth of that action could have stopped me.

All through the years, it felt like there were two of me. One was writing and the other was thinking that the whole effort was useless. The former turned out to be significant, producing something real and tangible. The latter proved to have no reality at all, creating noise in my soul, yet never actually ruining my work.

Therefore, if you don’t yet know how your writing life will turn out, why listen to feelings that could stop you? Instead write daily or as often as you can, and this will move you forward and could even put you where you most want to be.

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April 27, 2013

Keep Going, Part Three

Posted in Momentum in writing, slumps in writing, Stages tagged , , at 3:24 pm by Rebecca Hein

What was so important about my consistent writing habit in the face of chronic discouragement? It was action, and produced a definite result: better writing.

By contrast, discouragement produces nothing but a slowdown. We have to fight our way forward against the conviction that we will never progress.

Discouragement can be powerful, but if we let it become too real, it will produce its own form of action—a halt. Yet the miracle in my writing life is that somehow it never quite stopped me.

August 3, 2011

Two Levels of Ability

Posted in Practice Writing, Stages tagged , at 1:00 pm by Rebecca Hein

Writing on demand rather than by inspiration usually produces a lower quality result. Yet is this a reason to wait for the Muse and write little or nothing between her visits?

Musicians probably have an easier time with these two levels of ability because it’s built into our experience. We practice daily, or as often as possible. We also perform. Practice is easy compared with performing; there’s no audience and comparatively little pressure. Performance, with its accompanying stage fright, plunges our normal ability down so far below what we’ve learned to expect from practicing that it feels like a different activity.

“What happened to my playing?” is the inexperienced performer’s lament, and this lasts until he or she adjusts, through many performances, to that inevitable comedown from sublime moments in the practice room.

But writers have no comparable culture to prepare us for two levels of ability. Therefore we’re disheartened when “demand” writing proves less lively or less imaginative than what we’re used to. Experience and persistence will overcome this discouragement, but to provide that experience you have to do enough writing on demand.

May 25, 2011

Stages in a Writer’s Life, Part Three: Be Careful Who You Talk To

Posted in Stages tagged , at 4:17 am by Rebecca Hein

Musicians can’t hide what they do, and people generally don’t make fun of you for playing the violin, piano, or guitar. Even when you declare yourself serious by your college major in performance, as I did nearly forty years ago, well-meant advice usually centers on “At least get certified to teach in the public schools so you have something to fall back on.”
But writers seem to attract both bad advice and jeering. People either want to let you down easy by telling you how hard it is to get published, or they make merry over your ambition to write the Great American Novel.

So it makes sense to stay in the creative closet until you find someone you can trust. From there, radiate out to your chosen community one person at a time, until you can safely share your ambition and hope with these few helpful people.

May 18, 2011

Stages in a Writer’s Life, Part Two: “Is My Writing Any Good?”

Posted in Stages tagged at 4:12 am by Rebecca Hein

At some point we all find the courage to show our work to somebody else. Musicians have the edge here because our culture and tradition fling us into student recitals, ready or not.

But a writer can dither for years, worrying that criticism will be too heavy to bear. Finally we submit a piece for publication or critique, and from there we can only hope that we’ll hear the truth so we can progress.

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