The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 145
Perfect Writing Weather
The rains continue and that means I am stepping up the pace with my writing. I finished another coloring book and will publish that soon; I will finish my latest Shadow novel in about three weeks. In other words, all pistons are working properly on this old engine.
Best wishes to those of you who are participating in National Poetry Month, the poem a day thing. I’ve read some incredible pieces so far this month.
We have some pretty good questions this week so I think we should get to them while I still have power during this windstorm.
Too Much Information
From Zulma: “Bill, is it possible to read so many books on writing that you begin to doubt your own abilities? My approach to writing goes against the accepted knowledge yet, I feel stifled if I do it 'their way. Maybe it's the rebel in me but I prefer to follow the road less taken. The creativity flows better when I don't concern myself with shoulds and shouldn'ts.”
Zulma, I’m with you all the way on this one. Books on writing have their place and purpose, but how many does a person need to read?
I had a friend once who wanted to go into the craft business. She must have read twenty books on craft businesses, and small businesses, and marketing. Hell, every single time I spoke to her she was talking about a new book that had just what she needed.
After three years she still had not started that business.
I feel the same way about books on writing. At some point you have to put on your big boy pants and start writing, and to hell with the instructions, warnings, and recommendations. And I’ll say one more thing about this and then shut up: some of my favorite writers break rules all the time. I think good writers know when to break rules and when not to, and it’s all about voice and rhythm, and if someone doesn’t understand that maybe they never will be a talented writer.
ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE
From Mary: “To what extent do you think writers need to be actors, in order to make a character believable?”
This is such a great question!
I do exactly that, Mary! I sit and imagine myself in the scenes I create. I wonder what it feels like to hold that gun and put another human being in the sights. I wonder what it feels like to look down on a dead body, the emotions that must arise, the anger, revulsion, etc., and yes, I put myself in the love scenes and remember the intensity of making love to someone you adore.
I will say this until I’m blue in the face and the cows come home: writers and readers have five senses, and we, as writers, must make the senses of our readers come alive with our words. We can only do that by becoming part of the story or book, in my opinion.
Weather and Mood
From Bill: “Glad the sun was shining for you. That made me think, Bill. Do you find the weather affects your mood when you write? Just curious.”
Well, Bill, the sun was only with us for two days, with glorious temps around sixty, and now reality is back with a windstorm and heavy rains. LOL Life in the Northwest, my friend, is never dull.
As for your question, I think…no, I know…that weather affects my mood greatly when I’m writing. My darkest writings and stories are created during stormy, dreary weather. It’s just the way it is with my mind, and considering the weather we’ve had for the past six months, I’ve created a whole bunch of dark stories.
You want a love story? Bring me some sunny, warm weather!
From Jeffrey: “How do you get started as a freelance writer?”
How much time do you have Jeffrey? I’ve answered this question many times before, and the answer never changes. You first have to learn your craft. Poor writers do not last long in the freelance business.
Next you learn as much as you can about freelancing. Read a few books and articles on it and try to learn from others who have done it, or talk to someone who is currently making a living as a freelancer. There are do’s and don’t’s in freelancing just like any other business.
And then do it! Start bidding on jobs. Get out in your community and look for businesses that need a writer for their websites. Start small and work your way up in the business . . . and don’t quit your day job! You are not going to get rich as a freelance writer but eventually, if you pay your dues, you will get established and pay some bills.
WHICH IS CORRECT?
From Anastasia: “I read an article the other day, some famous writer, and he said you should practice your craft daily and write daily. But then the next day I read another famous writer and she said you should write when you are inspired. It’s all a bit confusing. Which is correct?
Anastasia, my answer to you is this: which approach works best for you?
I guess I take a little of both as the ultimate truth. I do not think a writer improves his/her craft by sitting idly for weeks or months, but I also don’t think anything of value will come from forcing yourself to write. Creativity must flow. It does not appear at gunpoint.
I personally write five days a week, but remember, also, that I have a lot to say and I am usually inspired to write. For someone else it may be different and I respect that.
So, bottom line: write when you feel like writing but remember, improvement does not happen by simply wanting to improve.
And there’s another bottom line: stop reading books on writing and start writing! LOL
No More Questions?
Well then we’ll call it a day on this Mailbag. Thanks to those who asked questions, and thanks to those of you who visited. I’ll see you all next week.
Oh, I almost forgot. I actually received a couple other questions about the changes happening on HubPages, and do I know what it is all about, and the answer is I don’t have a clue. I have never understood HP. They are a business, they are after a profit, and I’m sure all of the changes and demands are related to their quest for more money. Beyond that I don’t know, and quite honestly I don’t care. I’m a writer. I let others worry about SEO and content writing tips and blah, blah, and more blah. I’m a writer…period!
A quick example: I am currently at 1215 words on this article. HP suggests 1250. Now, if I really cared, I would writing some nonsense here at the end of my article that had nothing whatsoever to do with the article, until I reached 1250 words, and it would all be to please HP, but I won't do that . . . oops, I just did it!
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”