Some Writing Advice: Leave Home

We writers are isolationists, introverts. How else do you explain the fact we spend our time alone creating friends and worlds?  We are not made for the outside; we’ll rather stay inside, thank you very much.

When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, as much as I cared about the degree, I was more interested in something else. See, ever since I could remember I had been planning a trip to Europe. It was always my dream to be that young traveler/writer by himself going through Europe, with nothing but a notepad and a few paperbacks in a bag. I saw myself sitting under trees in the Lake District, opening my soul to the romantic poets, or wandering the halls of Charles Dickens’ home hoping for a message from beyond. I even sometimes thought about smoking a pipe (I didn’t, but wouldn’t it look cool?)

What I actually experienced though really was not at all what I expected. Oh, the traveler in my kicked in after a bit, but the rude awakening of being thrown out of my “universe,” my norm; well, I had to adjust for that first in a major way.

There were no little safe places to go, like I could when I wanted to write or just read at home; here everything was new and different (as well as the people around) and for an introvert it can make one’s hair stand on the back of one’s neck… permanently.

Still, I know that this experience made me a better writer. I look at what I did before I went on that six-week trip and what I did later and I see a more imaginative, more creative, more introspective, and more worldly writer.

So fellow writers, here is why, I think, you need to break out… Yes, I am telling you to step away from the keyboard and the soft couch. (Don’t worry they’ll be there when you get back.). Here are just three reason why: Continue reading

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The Mistakes of the Newbie Novelist

Sometimes when I work with new novelists or self-published writers, I wonder (and this is awful to say) if they even really like books.

Why is it that people are drawn to wanting to be writers?  Is the image too glamorized in books, TV, and movies? Is it for the bragging right, so they can say “Yes, I have written a book? It is right there.” Is it because it seems simple to do since we all know how to form a sentence thanks to public education? Has self-publishing companies done too good a job ruining the myth that writing is a skilled craft? What is it that draws people to take on this art, resulting in a congested market and thousands of badly written books finding their way onto amazon each year with badly made covers on photoshop?

I wish I had an answer to all of my questions, because sometimes I want to give new novelists interventions. In other words, sit them down and ask at the beginning of the process, “Do you really want to do this? Really? Why?”

The thing I am the most surprised about when working with a first-time novelist is how many rookie mistakes get made. Yet, they still come up again, and again, and, over time, I have begun to sound like a broken record. Here are four obvious errors that drive me crazy with some helpful recommendations for the newbies out there: Continue reading

More writerly wisdom: Writing is like… riding a bike, lifting weights, being a spy, hearing voices, finding your passion

I have a new editorial on writing at www.emlynchand.com

After writing my last editorial, I realized one great gaping hole in it—I didn’t discuss the actual writing process, nor give any suggestions around it. Oh, there were hints (notes about outlines and reading more), but nothing that focused on the nitty-gritty of the process.

Was I avoiding the problem? Was there a part of me that thought “They can figure it out on their own?” Possibly, but it was unfair of me personally to avoid the issue. So, I’m going to hit three of my main focuses in giving advice around writing.

However, let me say upfront, I find it hard to give actual “creation” advice. Creation is unique to everyone—where an idea comes from and how it grows into a work is as unique as your own experience learning to ride a bike. Oh, the end product may be the same (you are on the bike), but the scratches and bruises that got you onto it are your own.

You can read the rest of the editorial here.