Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three Ways Writing Builds Strength


"I never give in. I never give up. And I never take no for an answer."
Doris Roberts, Actress
1925-April 17, 2016
There are lots of ways to build strength in life: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, be social, stay mentally active. That last category? We writers have that covered in spades. After all, challenging our mental acuity is our game. I like to think for reasons beyond simply making an effort to stay healthy.

Tucked into suggestions to challenge our gray matter by the Alzheimer's Organization, which lists such activities as attending lectures and plays, playing games and working crossword puzzles, is writing. With all that serious writing entails we writers must be way ahead of the game.

Subtle Strengths Reaped from Being a Writer
1. Don't talk about it--DO IT: How often have you had this conversation with someone who wants to lose weight?
  • Weight Loss Challenger: I'm trying to lose weight.
  • You: Good for you.
  • Challenger: My goal is 15 lbs. but I don't know if I'll ever get there. I've tried every kind of diet and nothing works for me.
                                                                    STOP!

Too often the person who talks about weight loss winds up in an endless weight-loss-weight-gain cycle and doesn't reach her goal UNTIL she stops talking about it. Only then can she get down to business and DO IT. It takes strength to drum up the necessary discipline.

I use this example to illustrate the mistake I made as a beginner writer and the mistake other beginners might make: I talked about what I planned to write, even expounding on the details of the piece/story. Maybe I even started the project . . . but never finished it. Why? Talking about what you're planning to write can take the wind right out of your sails--it can rob you of the energy you've put into coming up with your idea in the first place, so that when it comes time to write, your enthusiasm is gone.

2. Now that you've leaped over one of your initial hurdles, pouring out your heart and keeping it between you and the page, you find that you soon enter THE ZONE--that magical place any serious creator occupies while working, be it an athlete, a musician, a homemaker who establishes a loving and pleasing environment--it doesn't matter. The very act of creating will get you there. The world will open up to you. You'll be in the candy shop, given carte blanche to pick any kind of confection you want: cake, ice cream, cookies; or hey, anything made with semi-sweet chocolate, my personal favorite (while being "strong" enough not to gain weight, mind you). You will begin to build or continue to build on your knowledge and skills and explore any and all aspects of life to your heart's desire. A writing friend once told me one of the benefits she loves about writing is that you become an expert on many subjects and you carry this knowledge with you for the rest of your life. There's a great deal of strength in that.

3. Learning your craft and sharpening your skills: This is a great accomplishment. You literally transform yourself into the ranks of successful people who have arrived at their success like you have, from their relentless efforts and hard work. A likely trajectory to becoming an accomplished writer can go something like this:
  • Write for your school newspaper beginning as early as possible; then become editor.
  • Establish a place to write and a schedule so that you write regularly every day, if possible.
  • Keep a journal. Come up with subjects that are important to you and think of ways you can write about them.
  • Take courses, read "how-to" books, join writing organizations and attend workshops and conferences. Share your writing with other writers.
  • Explore publication outlets online, at the library, with writing organizations you belong to. Find a publication(s) that would welcome what you have to say.
  • Learn photography, a handy skill to accompany your writing.
  • Learn how to speak in front of others.
  • Network, see what other writers are doing and learn from them. We are a sharing group .We have been known to go to great lengths to help and promote our fellow writers.
Before you know it you will have found your niche and if you keep working at it you will eventually reach your goals. Once you've reached your goals you can flex those buff writing muscles you've developed to benefit yourself, your readers and those fortunate enough to come in contact with you.

Photo: Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. She worked as a weight-loss counselor for several years and understands firsthand the challenges facing anyone wanting to lose weight. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook

4 comments:

  1. Linda, great tips. It's an absolute must that you have to walk-the-walk, not just talk-the-talk! And, sharpening those writing skills is an ongoing process.

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  2. Thanks, Karen. Walking-the-walk is such an important things to know.

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  3. Linda, I have never been able to write everyday, but have found that two 4hr blocks during the week works for me.

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  4. Mary Jo, it is hard to block out writing time in our busy lives. Four full hours of writingX2--that sounds heavenly to me! Thanks for writing.

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