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  • August 27th, 2008 | 2:00 PM
writing tip wednesday

This week's Wednesday Writing tip is, like last week's tip, from the school of life. My life to be exact. Which right now consists of one part waiting to find out where I land in the upcoming merger/inevitable layoffs at the day job, one part kicking myself in the rear with writing, one part parental worry about both kids though for different reasons, and one part dog training.

Let's talk about dog training. My new dog is a 60+ pound German Shepherd puppy who is probably going to gain at least another 20+ pounds in the next year and a half as she matures. Which means we need to get her trained now before she gets any inkling of how big and strong she really is.

Like everything else in life, dog training has evolved. There are many schools of thought in how to train a dog today. We are going with a combination of positive reinforcement and NILIF, which stands for Nothing In Life Is Free. You want a treat? You do something to earn it like sit, shake hands or lay down. You want to go outside? Ring the bell. You want to go for a walk? Don't bark in my face because I'm just going to turn my back and ignore you until you get quiet.

She's a smart dog so she figures things out pretty quickly. I wish I had been smart enough to practice NILIF with my kids but that's a story for a different time.

How does NILIF relate to writing?


Writing is going to cost you something. Always. No exceptions. Sometimes family time, sometimes TV time, sometimes that time in the dead of night when you might rather spend sleeping.

Sometimes the cost of writing a particular story will be the loss of a relationship when someone doesn't understand how you could write what you did. Sometimes it will be the letting go of long-nurtured piece of anger that dissipates once the story is written.

But make no mistake, it will cost you something. And only you can decide if you are willing to pay the price.

There is an old quote that I don't have in front of me at the moment so I can't give proper credit but it basically says that we do not go forward and create until the pain of not creating becomes more painful than the fear of how to create.

Writing is hard work, we all know that. It is often thankless work because so many words are written that the rest of the world never sees. But I tell people all the time that it is not always the most talented writer who gets published, it is the writer who did not give up, the one who kept on going no matter what obstacles appeared along the way.  If I am not further along in my career at this point in time it was because I chose not to pay the price. 

Robert M. Pirsig's  bestselling book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected more than 120 times before being published.  To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,  by Dr. Seuss, collected 29 rejection slips before it found a home. Stephen King received 84 rejections for a short story that eventually sold to Cavalier magazine.

I have always maintained that you can get just about anything you want out of writing, as long as you are willing to do the work.

(Tags: )
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 7 comments — Leave comment )
(Deleted comment)
August 29th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, it restores me too. I think my post carried some of the energy from the stuff with my daughter/grandson. Everything in life will cost you something. Some people, like my daughter, never figure that out.
August 27th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
August 29th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
thank you.
August 28th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Well said! Like most things in life, you must make difficult choices and sacrifices to get what you really want. I agree with you, if you stick with your writing long enough and keep studying your craft, you're destined to be on a library shelf somewhere. Maybe the key to it all is simplify your life, don't complicate it.
August 29th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
I can agree the key is to simplify life but boy, I can't figure out how to do that. :-)
(Deleted comment)
August 29th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Ah, thanks.
( 7 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice


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