Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG: The Writer as Whippersnapper


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Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but this month's optional IWSG question - What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey? - got me thinking about two things I would tell the writing whippersnapper I once was. 

* DON'T bother defending yourself to others. *

I spent years trying to prove to people in my life that my writing was just as important as anyone else's job/career and that my time was just as valuable. Not only did it not make any difference, but it was also exhausting, draining me of energy I could've put toward my work. 

* DO focus on the joy. *  

Of creating, of imagining, of stories, of writing. Publication is thrilling and rejection stinks, but like Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, "You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes and failures." Living a life in pursuit of a passion, dedicated to the journey and not the destination, is something to be proud of. 

This is what I would tell myself then.

This is what I remind myself of now. 

Question is - will either of us actually listen?

*****

Do these warnings sound familiar? What would you tell your younger writing self? Don't you just love the word "whippersnapper"? Have you read Big Magic?

54 comments:

  1. I still haven't read Big Magic but it's on my list thanks to you. I should make sure I get to it before I forget it's on there! I hope you listen to yourself now. :)

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    1. I'm actually re-reading it now. :)

      Maybe if the tortoises told me what to do, I'd actually listen.... :)

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  2. Wise advice. Some people just don't get it and they never will, so why waste energy trying to convince them?

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    1. I'm definitely better at it now than I used to be. When I was younger, though, I so wanted the respect and the interest in my writing - my passion! - that other people seemed to get so easily for their jobs/careers.

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  3. Good advice - focusing on joy is key. I do love the word wippersnapper :-) I haven't read Big Magic, but everyone seems to rave about it.

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    1. Big Magic focuses more on creativity than anything else - I find it very inspiring. :)

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  4. Your two-pronged advice is full of wisdom, and not just for writing, but for life, in general. Focusing on the joy is my default setting, but it's sometimes difficult to drop the defensiveness when someone challenges the value of your life choices. With age comes acceptance that some people will never get it, and that's okay.

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    1. It got to the point where that defensiveness became my default setting. When I decided to let that - among other things - go, I felt so much lighter and better able to focus on the things I really wanted to, like joy. :)

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  5. I just never told anyone I was writing. I still don't bring it up. It's like my secret identity, except I go to the writing desk instead of a phone booth to morph.

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    1. You're like a writing superhero! Do you have a cape? A writing cape would be very cool.... :)

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  6. I've stopped trying to convince people who don't understand my writing journey.

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    1. Yes! If they're not on board then they need to step aside. :)

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  7. I was lucky my family was very supportive though I did most of my writing late at night while working a full time job during the day. I don't know if I could have continued if they had been negative.

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    1. It's funny because I've found that it's not always so much that people say negative things as it is they don't say anything at all.

      I've endured conversations where others were asked about their work, their kids, etc, while I stood there, smiling, nodding along, waiting for my turn...which never came. And when I spoke up without being prompted, I received an "hmm, that's nice" kind of comment.

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  8. Nailed it! Well said. I always defend my writing and you are so right it is exhausting. Wishing I was wiser, and knowing better, never stops me. *sigh*

    Great post. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. It's just not worth it. There's plenty of other people - in real life, online, blogging buddies, etc - who ARE interested in hearing about our work. Let's focus on them! :)

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  9. Yeah, I still find myself going on the defensive every once in a while. I think most people have stopped bringing it up with me. Or maybe I've gotten enough writer friends that it drowns out the negativity. :)

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    1. Me, too. I'm better at dealing with it than I used to be, but it still hurts sometimes. And yes on drowning out the negativity!

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  10. I love this: “Living a life in pursuit of a passion, dedicated to the journey and not the destination, is something to be proud of. ” we do have to live our joys because their is something to be said for smiling all day verses frowning because you aren’t doing what you really
    Want to do :) Happy IWSG day :)

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    1. I might ask "What if?" about a lot of things, but pursuing my passion isn't one of them. I know how that's turned out. So far. :)

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  11. I love that quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, and her book Big Magic is great. It's on the IWSG Book Club bookshelf. We'll have to read it sometime soon. :)

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    1. Re-readng it now is really helping remind me of the joy of creativity and writing.

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  12. Great advice! I have been blessed by a very supportive husband, who most of the time takes my writing seriously and is less bashful about bringing it up to others than I am.

    I haven't read Big Magic. The title didn't spark anything for me, but the comments you pulled out seem good!

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    1. Yeh for supportive husbands! Mine talks up my writing to other people every chance he gets. :)

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  13. Right On! I especially love, "Don't bothering defending yourself." What's important is knowing that you know what you want to do and then doing it.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. It's funny because I pretty much always knew what I wanted to do. I just wanted the approval and the interest of other people, too, and when I didn't get it, it made me doubt myself and my path. Not anymore! :)

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  14. Excellent advice. I hope younger you would have listened if you could tell her.

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    1. I would hope so, but I was pretty stubborn back then.

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  15. Great advice! I can't say I've ever had to defend myself to anyone else, but I have definitely had to defend myself to myself. 😳 My writing is good. What I am writing can make a difference.

    I also liked the bit about focusing on the joy. If you aren't enjoying yourself, why do it?

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    1. Sometimes we are our own worst critic. :)

      I think sometimes the joy can get overshadowed by negativity, by rejection, etc. We just have to keep it shining brighter than everything else around it.

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  16. Fantastic advice! I sometimes find myself defending my decision to be a writer and how difficult it is, but I've gotten better. I know I'm very lucky to be able to stay at home for my son and write while he's at school. It gives me great delight to be able to do both. :)

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    1. Good for you for recognizing how lucky you are! I'm truly grateful for my writing and for my imagination, even if they tend to run a little, um, dark. :)

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  17. I love that quote from Big Magic. A good reminder!

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  18. We all need to get some earplugs and stop listening to the naysayers. I must admit, I've reached an age where I've actually said, "I'm eleventy-nine now and I'll do as I damn well please" to a query as to whether I was putting my time to the best use. They can just KMA. I wish my younger self had had some moxie.

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    1. I love that you said that! :)

      I think I have some moxie now, but it's more of a quieter kind. Unless it's just sleeping. Or not there at all. Hmm, maybe I do actually need moxie after all....

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  19. Wonderful quote by Elizabeth Gilbert. Must remember that one...

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    1. That book is full of good quotes. I just wish I could remember them all!

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  20. I love your tip about not defending yourself against others. I completely understand. Sometimes, when I meet someone new and they say, "So I hear you're a writer, what do you write?" I tell them and they cringe, step backwards, start talking to someone else. It used to bother me and I felt I needed to defend myself and my genre (horror) to feel validated by a complete stranger. Now I find it funny and enjoy the shock moment. Makes me giggle every time :)

    PS: Congratulations on your story winning the contest! I read this post and your previous one back to back. That's so exciting and your story *brrr* very icy and creepy. I loved it!

    Jen

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    1. Most people are surprised that many of us who write horror look like anyone else, look like their neighbors. See, you never really know who your neighbors are! Bwahahaha! :o

      Thanks, Jen! I'm glad my story creeped you out!

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  21. Excellent advice. Instead of proclaiming our serious intent as a writer, that it's a real job, we need to prove it. Let our work speak for us. As for the joy, oh my gosh. If writing didn't give us joy, why would we do it? Enjoy the joy. :)

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    1. I think we need to prove it to ourselves, be okay with it ourselves because for some people, no matter what we do, it still won't be enough, still won't gain their interest and respect. But that's their problem. :)

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  22. I think I need to remember to do both of these, too.
    Definitely the joy is a necessity as well as a celebration of doing what I love.

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  23. I hate the fact that once someone has judged and characterized you or your work you can seldom change their minds even when evidence is on your side. I think that is wise advice. Happy Belated IWSG day.

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    1. I learned that lesson the hard way, but it's all good - or at least better - now. :)

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  24. I love this advice! Being a picture book writer as well as a homemaker, I often feel like I have to defend TWO career choices. But you're right - I don't have to defend either one.

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  25. Hindsight is a great thing. I do find myself caring less and less what other people think, but I wish I'd always had that attitude. You don't need social validation to be a writer. It's your life and you need to do what's important to you!

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    1. I wish I'd always had that attitude, too, Nick. When I think of all the time wasted? Ugh.

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  26. I love that Elizabeth Gilbert quote!!
    I actually bought the paperback copy of Big Magic. It's the kind of book that you can go to, time and time again, highlighter in hand, and mark new passages... and at the same time, re-read favourite snippets.
    A fab book!!

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    1. It really is a great book! I'm thinking of trying the audio version, too, just for something different.

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  27. I'd tell myself to ignore that English teacher and pursue psychology instead of journalism, like I wanted. (Less draining for the writing part of the brain; I wanted to be a forensic psychologist--he thought I was too sensitive. Yeah, like you don't see upsetting things as a journalist.)

    I'd also tell myself that yes, I *do* have time to write. And not to spend money on all those expensive courses and retreats. And not to sign with that agent...

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    1. Back then, I didn't even know what a forensic psychologist was, let alone think about becoming one.

      I heard a phrase that went something like this - it's okay to glance in the rearview mirror, just don't stare into it. Look forward, look ahead!

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