Tag Archives: authors

Strikethrough the Old, Write in the New

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It’s that time again when we look forward and consider what the new year will bring. We scribble in journals thoughts of the past and plans for the future. Maybe someday the words we write will be quoted along with the new year ponderings of these well-known authors:

Photo_of_Hamilton_Wright_MabieImagine the essayist, Hamilton Wright Mabie, in the late 19th century, alone in his study, the clock on the wall nearing midnight. He writes:

“New Year’s Eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.”

downloadIn the early 20th century, T.S. Eliot also has thoughts about the approaching new year. He opens his journal, dips his pen into the ink well and shares these words:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

HalBorlandDecades later the American author, Hal Borland, disagrees with Eliot’s words. He writes,

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”

c95b99616ea1be7a055175de5fb7b6c0Borland’s contemporary, Edith Lovejoy Pierce, is less contemplative. She says it simply:

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

What are your thoughts about the new year?
What will you write in 2020?
None of us know what this new year holds for us as writers, but let’s resolve to approach it one day at a time, to give it our best and to live and grow in our craft.

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Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing

Do you have a stringent work routine? The iconic and controversial author, Henry Miller, did. He stuck to his routine and even wrote eleven commandments for himself to follow:

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “(other work)”.
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Miller didn’t stop there. He also created what he called his “Daily Program.”

MORNINGS:
If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.

If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS:
Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS:
See friends. Read in cafés.

Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.

Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.

Paint if empty or tired.

Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

I can’t help but wonder if Miller really stuck with this rigorous routine.
I doubt that I could.

Could you?

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Five Ways to Break Out of a Writer’s Slump

Are you a discouraged writer?
It’s a rocky road to publication. But today is a new day! You can wipe the slate clean and begin again with a fresh and positive attitude.

Try these unique ways to break out of your writer’s slump.

1. Embrace Kindness.
Pick up a bunch of cards at a dollar store. Write encouraging poems or messages inside. Then drop them off at a rehabilitation center or hospital for the staff to distribute to patients. When you write, be creative. Focus on encouragement with a touch of humor.

2. Practice Compassion.
Think of someone you know who is going through a tough time: an illness or death in the family, caring for an elderly parent, a divorce, financial trouble . . . Write a compassionate letter to that person and send it or deliver it in person. Take your time with this one. Sharpen your revising skills.

3. Stand Up for Justice.
Think of a topic that makes you react strongly: politics, religion, social justice . . . Craft and send an opinion editorial or a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Before you write ask yourself, “How can I write to persuade and not offend?”

4. Encourage Others.
Start a writer’s coffee group. Meet over coffee to ask for help, offer hope and listen with your heart. Take a fresh approach. Instead of meeting to critique each other’s writing, meet to share information about the business of writing: proposals, agents, markets, self publishing . . . Share what you’ve learned and work for the common good—Not just getting published, but also staying encouraged through the process.

5. Be Good to Yourself.
Squash that little voice inside that says, “You’re not a writer. You might as well quit.” Imagine: If that voice were a despicable character in your novel how would you get rid of him or her? Hold that image in your head whenever you think that you can’t write.

Love yourself, stay positive,
AND
Be the kind of writer that you want the world to see.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Dealing With Rejection, Encouragement, Inspiration, Writer's Block