Wednesday, July 17, 2013

20 Reasons to Quit Writing…or Not

We all have those days. We're hacking away on a manuscript, wondering if we're wasting our time. There are a zillion reasons we may want to quit. Below are 20 of those reasons, those negative thoughts that buzz through our heads. These are followed by 20 reasons that motivate us to keep plugging away and following our dreams.

1. You're tired of receiving rejections from agents or publishers.
2. It's beginning to feel pointless to write about made-up people in made-up situations.
3. Your muse is a stubborn, stingy creatures who tosses out good ideas once a decade.
4. The only people who've read your work are your relatives and critique partners.
5. It's just too difficult to do everything "right"--rounded characters, exciting plot, fluid pacing, solid worldbuilding, meaningful dialogue, etc.
6. You don't seem to have any talent for this anyway. Others are MUCH better.
7. There are already millions of books out there…who cares if you write one more?
8. It costs a lot of money for books, conferences, writing courses, and paid critiques.
9. Your family would like to spend time with you sometime this century.
10. Because publishers often publish "garbage" and don't seem to want quality work.
11. Everything's already been written storywise anyway. There's nothing new.
12. You're tired of waking up in the middle of the night losing sleep over your plot.
13. You could be going to the Bahamas or Disneyland instead of writer conferences.
14. Sitting at your computer all day is bad for your posture, diet, and exercise plan.
15. Less than 10% of writers earn enough to support themselves--let alone a family.
16. You're tired of sitting around with unbrushed hair, wearing your jammies or sweats.
17. Writing a rough draft is fun, but revision really sucks! (and revision is crucial)
18. Because nothing you write seems to turn out the way you'd envisioned.
19. Face it: you'll never be the next JK Rowling/Stephen King/Maggie Stiefvater.
20. There are other things you could be doing: painting, scuba diving, cycling, knitting.

1. What else would you do with your spare time--play vid games or watch TV?
2. To prove to Mom/Hubby/Aunt Renilda/Yourself that you really are a writer.
3. So you can say you never gave up. Because you are Not A Quitter!
4. If you persevere, you will encourage other writers on their writing journey.
5. To communicate with the world, to share yourself and your ideas.
6. One day you will inspire, challenge, intrigue, and entertain people with your stories.
7. Because if you don't try to attain your dreams, you'll definitely never reach them.
8. To express the creativity inside you, regardless if the world ever sees it.
9. Because to hold a book in your hand with your name on it would be such a thrill!
10. No one else in the world can write a story the way you do, because you're unique.
11. If you quit, what would you write about on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook?
12. When you connect with other writers, you encourage, inspire, and validate them.
13. Even if you can't write like well-known authors, people still enjoy your stories.
14. Writing gives you a legit reason to read books--all in the name of "research."
15. It only takes ONE agent or editor to fall in love with your story.
16. Through the writing community, you've met people you now call friends.
17. You don't have to publish traditionally if rejected; you can go indie/self-publish.
18. It's awesome to work sitting around with unbrushed hair, in jammies or sweats.
19. Most writers' paths to publication are heaped with scores of rejection letters.
20. It fulfills a part of you in ways that you can't even express.

Have you ever thought of quitting writing? What made you keep going?
Can you think of anything else to add to either of these lists?
Which of these reasons to quit or perservere resonates with you the most?

Photo: taken by me in April 2013 on a trip to the Arches National Park, Utah.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Toxic Personalities You Can Really Use

In 2009 I read a yahoo article entitled, 8 Toxic Personalities to Avoid (click for link). Naturally, the first thing I thought of was "Hey!--this info could be useful for my writing," and so I saved it in my Writing Documents folder. And then I proceeded to forget about it for 4 years. So today I'm going to trot out the basic ideas of this article to share how you can use these personalities in your writing.

As the article describes, these kinds of people are good to avoid. They are toxic to our happiness, self-esteem, and the overall quality of our lives. In a nutshell, here are the types:

1. Manipulative Marys. These types get you to do things you don't really want to.
2. Narcissistic Nancys. Folks who focus on their own needs at your expense.
3. Debbie Downers. People who have a pessimistic, glass-half-empty view of life.
4. Judgmental Jims. Those who find unique perspectives "wrong" and "disturbing."
5. Dream-Killing Keiths. Ones who remind you that your dreams are unachievable.
6. Insincere Illissas. People who you never can tell their true feelings; hard-to-read.
7. Disrespectful Dannys. These are subtle bullies who demean and show no respect.
8. Never-Enough Nellies. Individuals who take you for granted and are hard to please.

If you wish more detailed descriptions, please visit the original article.

You can probably think of a few people in your own life that fit the attributes of one or more of these toxic personalities. Avoid these people if you can, for the sake of your mental health! But as writers, we can utilize these kinds of characters in our stories. This list provides a gold mine of negative personalities that we can throw across our main character's paths to make him/her more miserable, his/her goals less likely to be achieved. The name of the game is conflict, right?

Well, with this list of personality types--hello, Conflict!

Using These Personalities
In our writing, we can develop these people types as our villains or antagonists. A parent. A best friend who unwittingly stands in your main character's way. A well-meaning but interfering teacher or uncle or grandparent. I can totally see a parent being manipulative, hard to please, dream-crushing, hard-to-read, or judgmental of a teen's interests and views.

You could even use a dash of some of these traits in your main character. Your MC needs flaws so they're not too perfect, right? Well, maybe for instance your character has a "downer" view of life, which gets in the way of his or her dreams. (Your antagonist can be "self against self," rather than someone external to herself.) Also, in a lot of teen novels, there's a prevailing habit of using "snarky" main characters, and I think snarkiness is often tied to being judgmental--the character has little tolerance for people who are different from him/herself, even though this snarkiness is often used for an outrageous, fascinating, or humorous effect.

Have you used one or more of these toxic personalities in your own writing?
Can you think of any other ways you could use these personality types?
Have you ever written a story where the main character was his/her own worst enemy--the antagonist? Did your MC have to overcome these toxic traits to be victorious?