Sunday, November 15, 2009

Embracing the "No Way" Factor

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away… Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday…" (Lennon/McCartney)

With all due respect to Paul McCartney, I prefer to believe in Today. Even better, I want to believe in Tomorrow. Every word I type in the present is transported into a magical future, which is still yet a dream. The essay I'm composing will be read tomorrow or Monday or maybe next Friday. A new WIP will take months to finish and weeks more to edit. We can forget in the tedium of the effort involved how miraculous tomorrow can and will be, especially if we lose sight of the magic in our words. There's something to be said for introducing Optimism to Risk-Taking and discovering how amazing this collaboration can be.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."André Gide

Every writer goes through it. A manic-depressive swing depending on where the story is at. When we're in the zone, the words fly, the ideas are so thick they infiltrate our dreams and we can't type fast enough. When we're stuck with a plot point or drowning with too many choices, we can unfortunately be quite unbearable. My favorite image (which I'm embarrassed to say is only slightly exaggerated) is of me dashing through the house, hands waving in the air, while I shriek, "I'm a hack!"

Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Welcome to the wonderful world of writing.

"You can do anything you think you can. This knowledge is literally the gift of the gods, for through it you can solve every human problem. It should make of you an incurable optimist. It is the open door." --Robert Collier

No matter how many times we go over it, the truth always bears repeating. Our thoughts shape our world. At the very least, they shape our perception of our world and perception really is everything.

"A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."Mahatma Gandhi

Studies are ongoing in regards to mapping the brain and proving repeatedly that Positive Beliefs Work. Science has taken it a step further, revealing that thinking about accomplishing a task lights up the same region of the brain as the actual activity. Even more exciting, visualizing that finish line (in whatever race we're facing) seems to carve a pathway in our brain that leads to success. Scientific proof for what has been a tenet of every successful person's philosophy for eons: Positive Thinking Leads to Success.

"Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness."Oprah Winfrey

It's good to be the queen!

Truth is, there are no safe routes or any way to assure a life free of troubles and pain. Life is messy and filled with complications. Since we're going to get out hands dirty anyways, why not go for it?

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one." ~Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book, 1927

There's an endless variety of methods people utilize to move past writer's block or procrastination or (let's call it what it is, folks) Fear. Yet each and every method ends up at the same place. Sooner or later, you have to plop yourself down, whether in front of a computer or with pen in hand, and write. Why? Obviously, if you don't write it's all over but there's more. This is the horse you've fallen from. The longer you wait, the greater and more fearsome this beast will appear to be. Don't hesitate. Grab the reins and let the words take you for a ride. Don't concern yourself yet with deciding whether the prose is brilliant or prosaic. That's what editing is for.

And keep this in mind: The only writers who don't make mistakes are those who don't write. That's my quote and I'm standing by it.

"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative." --Woody Allen

Why play it safe? Safety is for wusses.

I read this brilliant post on the BookEnds blog by Angie Fox, author of "The Accidental Demon Slayer." Her words are so good I'm going to re-post them here along with a link to the complete article.

The post is called Angie Fox: Three Things I Had to Do in Order to Sell. She speaks of the steps involved with taking her writing to the next level. To get from 'almost there' to SOLD. Here's the first segment (may it whet your appetite for more):

The “No Way” Factor:

"My characters had to take bigger chances, have more to risk and lose. It’s easy to say, but a hard thing for a writer to do. It’s a vulnerable, risky place to be. I knew my story was big enough to sell when instead of ending my writing sessions thinking, “I hope that’s good enough to impress an editor,” I ended them thinking, “No. I did not just write that. I did not just make my character defend herself with a toilet brush and a can of Purple Prairie Clover air freshener.”

Taking risks can lead you into unexpected places, and even better… it transforms your perspective of writing from an effort to an adventure. Plus, from a purely practical point of view, when our writing excites us, our enthusiasm will spark a flame within the hearts of our readers too.

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet." --Jack London (Note: London received upward of 600 rejections before publication)

So, this week's motivation is two-fold: Keep Believing and Take Risks. Those two qualities go together like books and readers.

And remember…

"If you wish to be a writer, write." --- Epictetus

Thanksgiving is just around the corner with Christmas and New Year's a mere breath away. Let's keep the energy up and make this next week count!
Remember all books are written One Page At A Time.

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.


Cate Masters said...

Aack! I'm way behind in my word count. But I no longer care. I'm writing, and the story's coming along well, so I'm good with that.
Gotta love that Oprah. If anyone can give advice on how to be queen, it's her!
I've also been reading (when I have time, which is not much!) about quantum physics and the power of thought. Many people repeat the idea that you must visualize your future to attain it, so I'm thinking big!
Great post, as always, Chiron!

Chiron said...

Hi Cate!

I hear you. Still mired in the revisions for my suspense. My CPU fan is acting up, and a technician is due this week but until then if it starts sounding strange, I power down. Which leaves me with no access to the revisions. ACK!!!

Quantum physics and the power of thought. Sounds like a great topic for tea! Loved Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe. I've seen some astonishing things occur with visualization. You keep thinking BIG, Cate! Let's see that glass as Completely Full. *wink* Why go for half-measures? :-D

Thanks so much for visiting!


Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Chiron. I love YOUR quote. Very true and right in there is that fear factor. I'm at a standstill right now. Just finished one that I need to do a final read and get back in the saddle with another that is about half finished. It's sometimes hard to switch gears.

Misty Evans said...

Fear is a biggie for me, Chiron, so I love the idea of introducing optimism to risk-taking. Optimism is the thing that makes me feel like a queen because it helps me believe I CAN take a risk and survive failure.

Time to get back to taking a few risks with my wip. Thanks for the motivation and the link to Angie's article.

Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting for me to read the article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Miss Mae said...

Yep, I run through the house, shrieking, "I'm a dud! What do I know about this stuff?" LOL

Again, you amaze me. How DO you come up with these continuous excellent posts? :) You're awesome!

Chiron said...

Thanks, Linda!

It really can be hard to switch gears not to mention getting past the fear factor. *sigh* I think that's one reason why it's so good to push past our limits. If for no other reason it helps to see that We Can Do It! My suspense WIP is a challenge and has stirred up fear within as I struggle with insecurities.

Am I REALLY capable of writing suspense? I worry as staring at the monitor. (Throwing a few chapters to a crit partner helped alleviate that fear. Woo-hoo!!)

Can I finish this book? is such a common fear among writers, we might as well enscribe it on our foreheads!! *laughs*

Glad to hear you're getting back in the saddle! Go-go-GO!!


Chiron said...

Hello Misty!

Fear... Hah! I sneer at fear (but only when it's not looking). *grin*

It really is GOOD to be the queen though, eh? :-D Good luck with your WIP!

Thanks so much for stopping by... :-D


Chiron said...

Hello Anonymous!

Thanks very much. I'm glad you liked the article! Stop by anytime.


Chiron said...

Aw, Miss Mae!

Thanks so much. *grin* You're wonderful to offer such a lovely comment!

Well, us "duds" and "hacks" really must stick together. Perhaps we can learn to shriek together in harmony. *laughs* Though, your loyal readers obviously adore your delightful stories. As you know!! ;-D

Thanks for visiting!


Ann Victor said...

Making time to catch up with my blog visits! (I've been a good little writer and have been sticking to my work schedule with no impromptu breaks for blogging!)

Jack London - 600 rejections. Wow. makes me feel a *lot* better!!

Loved the image of you running around the house screaming "I'm a hack!" My version is crying into my breakfast yoghurt, 'Oh why do I even try? I can't write. I'm useless. I may as well stop...' (you get the picture?) My husband doesn't even look up from his mornng newspaper any more. He just goes, 'Uh-huh. Heard that before!' :)