5 Simple Things You Can Do To Ensure Your Writer (Or Artist) Friend Succeeds

Dear Readers,

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus recently.  Between finishing the first draft of Book One in The Marvelous Adventures of Sebastian Smith, and moving between states, I’ve been a little preoccupied.  However, I’ve also been doing a lot of learning about self-publishing, platform building, and the art of selling yourself in 2013 with the help of my brilliant Denver based Writer’s Group [Name and Website To Be Developed Soon]

It occurred to me, as I was doing all this lovely learning, that a bunch of this information would be very useful to provide to the people who support my career and my success.  There are plenty of simple actions that they can take which they might not realize have become very important in the current wave of social and technical revolution.

It also occurred to me that there are probably a ton of people out there who love and support a writer or an artist that might not know the best way to help them succeed, or even that they themselves are a critical part of that success.  So I’ve put together a handy dandy list of five simple things you can do for your writer friend that will make a huge difference in their success.

You may not realize it but you, YES YOU, every single person reading this, have the power to contribute to the success of your friends and family.  And it ain’t even gonna cost you a single dime, neither.

That’s right, none of these steps involve giving your friends money.  If you have money to give them, disregard this list and just go give them money.  Duh.

A Brief Word on Platforms

kinky-boots

No, I’m not talking about bitchin’ shoes.  I am talking about what every writer or artist or consultant or student or (really) person has to build in today’s interconnected work place.  Namely everyone needs a platform.  This is especially true for the creative type, who has droves of perfectly dandy work just sitting around collecting cyberdust on a hard drive somewhere.

What is a platform?

Platform is the word used for your combined social media presence.  It is how people find you and your work in the online environment.  It consists of loads of different pieces: Facebook author page, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, Instagram, and any other subscription based social media outlet you can imagine for starters.  These things combined are the tower on which you stand to put your face above the sea of other faces in the crush of cyberspace.  And being seen directly correlates to being paid.  At least, if the work is good.  But the internet can’t really make your work good.  Well, ok, it can.  We’re splitting hairs here.

How does a platform work?

Platforms don’t necessarily work like you think they will.  Not everyone can aspire to be George Takei, lording over his monarchy on Facebook and getting 10,000 likes every time he so much as clicks a link.  And the good news is, a successful platform doesn’t have to be the best to bring success.  A successful platform is more like a good audition piece for a publisher or client.  It shows interested parties that more than just your mom and her cats think you have talent, and it shows that you are capable of  refining and leveraging your unique persona into a marketable format.  The critical levels vary based on your industry and who you talk to, but the important thing is that every creative type needs to have a significant social platform to stand on.  But those platforms are not in competition with each other.  They’re a threshold you have to pass, not a contest you have to win.

Anyway, on to the list!  To find out what you can do, hit the jump!

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Upon An Anniversary: Five…wait…SIX Lessons On Living Life Freely

Dear Readers,

I know that it has been a few months since I last updated the blog, and I’m sorry for the absence.  In the past month I have literally held the hand of a dying man at the end of his life, and cradled a newborn only twelve hours after they were born.  I’d like to say that I’ve been on a journey from end to beginning, and death to rebirth, but if I’m honest, I’ve mostly been facebooking between typing bad paragraphs which I promptly delete in my novel.

However, I woke up today and realized that I had come, quite unexpectedly, to a rather important anniversary.  I haven’t talked much about it here on the blog, but readers from other sources will know that one year ago today I walked out of a ten year relationship that had become pretty toxic, and left my home in Texas to begin an unintentional period of wandering and rediscovery of self.  Today, I find that I’d like to reflect on that time period, and the lessons and adjustments I’ve made in myself.

Because I now know myself in a different way, as a writer (and have also come to detest the phrase “as a writer” as much as I use it…), of course my chosen medium is both textual and public.  How could it be anything else?  But this post, more than any of the others I have posted on the blog until now, is for me.  I’m writing it, as a letter to my future self.  But you can read along too!

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Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling
These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist. This is some of the most excellent, concise writing advice I have ever read, and I’m posting it here for you but mostly me, so that when I come back to this blog, I know something of use about writing will have been said.  Taken from http://aerogrammestudio.com/

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Dirty Little [Writing] Secrets: Write Shop #1: Required Course Materials

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the first elective course in the Dirty Little [Writing] Secrets Curriculum!

The lessons in the curriculum so far have been about how to view another writer’s work and the distinction and rules necessary for providing useful critique about that work, which we have called “craft based” critique.

However, I highly doubt anyone is looking to train themselves on how to give feedback simply so their friends give them ever growing stacks of short stories to review.  No, I think we all sense, intrinsically, that the real reason behind learning to say something helpful about another writer’s work is so that we can learn to improve our own craft.

Today’s entry is not about critique.  Today’s entry is about the hands on, nitty gritty nuts and bolts of writing.  It is about the literary lathe, the synonym circular saw, the comma calipers, the freestanding paragraph planer!

Today’s entry is your first elective course in the DLWS curriculum:  Write Shop!

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Dirty Little [Writing] Secrets: Homework #1: Become a Rubber Band; Man.

Dear Reader,

We are now two lessons into the Dirty Little [Writing] Secrets curriculum, and like any good student, you may have neglected to show up to the first two classes.  If that’s the case, never fear; you can catch up here.

Having caught up, you now know that there is a big difference in critique based around content (i.e., I liked this character or I didn’t like this character), and critique of a writer’s craft (i.e., I thought you showed the heroes bravery on page 3).  You also know just how important the ability to provide useful critique is to your own development as a writer.  And finally you’ve learned the five basic rules for providing said useful critique.

So, after all that yummy learning, we can’t just laze about on the side of the pool, waiting for our sandwich of literary awesomeness to digest.  No!  Finger cramps be damned!  Now is the time to leap in.

Today I present your very first Dirty Little [Writing] Homework!

It’s called The Elastic Sentence Continue reading