Posts Tagged writing groups

A Writer Needs a Support System

I know I promised my next post would be on what I learned from the conference. Well, this is related, but not necessarily craft. I think this is something far more important for beginning writers, so I felt it was important to share what I’ve learned.Any goal no matter what it is has a higher chance of succeeding with a support system. I believe no one can achieve their dreams without the help of others. Everyone needs encouragement to keep going, to keep reaching for whatever they want to achieve.

So, what do you do when your family and friends don’t provide this needed support? For a writer, you are already fighting your own internal battle with doubts. I know this is my situation; although not all my family members are negative about my choice to become a writer. But the negativity from others is hard to overcome, and most often the negative comments hold more weight in our minds than the praise.

This leads me into my list of things I’m using to build my own support system. I know that it will help me to achieve my goals and make it much easier to achieve what I want.

Five ways to build a support system:

  1. Minimize the negative. If you have those who put you and your dreams down, avoid them. If they are family ask them to please not comment on your chosen profession. For me I’m finding some family members posting negative comments on Facebook. I’ve asked them to stop posting these negative comments with the proviso that if they don’t stop, I will take them off my friends list. Anyone who is on your list of negative people, NEVER, and I mean never share anything with them. Don’t read your latest writing. Don’t share any ideas you have or are working on. If they bring it up, change the subject. I’ve even had to excuse myself and either leave the room (the bathroom is a good excuse) or leave all together. If they persist, you can even tell them (nicely of course) that you don’t want to talk about it and that if they don’t stop asking you will have to leave. Be nice about it, but firm. This is your life, not everyone is going to agree with your choices. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them tear down your choices.
  2. Keep your supporters close. These people can be worth more than gold. If you have friends who keep you positive or encourage you to go farther than you thought you could, keep them close. Use them as much as possible.
  3. Join a writing group and/or critique group. There are a ton of opportunities to connect with others who are in the same situation you are and can provide a lot of encouragement as well as great feedback for development of your craft. Whether in a professional group or not, surround yourself with people who are doing what you are doing.
  4. Go back to school and take classes. I have taken classes that have started groups that continued on after the classes end. Connect with the teachers. They can give you good feedback and encouragement. They know what you’re going through, having gone through it themselves.
  5. Get spiritual encouragement. If this is something you feel God has called you to do, then pray! Ask God to encourage you. Pray every time you sit down to write. Pray every time you encounter negativity. Pray every time you feel down or discouraged. If God has called you to do something, He will equip you to do it. You can’t fail, unless you listen to the negativity and give up!

These are just a few I’ve come up with so far. I’m sure there are other things I could be doing to ensure my success. I plan to continue to search out more ideas because I think a support system is a big necessity if you want to be a writer.

If you have any ideas on this subject, please share. I really need all the support I can get! Thanks.

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2012 OWFI Writer’s Conference – Characterization

I had a blast at the three-day Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Conference this week. The speakers were overflowing with useful information. I was actually getting information overload at one point.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank OWFI for giving me a scholarship to attend. The experience was more than I expected and the board did a great job organizing the entire event. The conference showed me what an invaluable resource OWFI is in pursuing a writing career. The support I fail to find elsewhere can be found here among others who understand me and my writing aspirations. I feel truly blessed in having found them. I connected and was welcomed by my local chapter the Norman Galaxy of Writers, even though I haven’t attended my first meeting yet. I look forward to sharing my writing travails with them.

Okay, okay, enough with the mushy stuff, huh? Well, it’s all true, how they made me feel. I’ve been to other conferences for other things and don’t remember feeling quite as welcome as I did at this conference. Something like that deserves some recognition.

I can’t choose a best speaker but here are some things I learned that I’d like to pass along. Since I can’t fit all I learned on one post, and you don’t want to read a book in one post, I’m splitting up my post into four parts. This first post is about what I learned from Steven James on “Building Three-dimensional Characters.” Easily the most immediate information I’ll use on my current project.

Steven James opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on how to approach it. His perspective is instead of focusing on a character’s past, focus on what they want or desire and what they are willing to do to get it. The second thing to focus on is give the reader what they want. They don’t want a lot of backstory on a character. They want to be able to relate to a character’s desires and fears, their feelings and how they handle situations. We are writing for our audience, so let’s give them what they want.

I can’t rehash every detail of his lecture here (it was a three hour session) but these are the basics of building three-dimensional characters. His view on building characters we can relate to was really unique. There are ways in which we can convey whether a character is an alpha or not, whether they are strong or weak, and we always want to keep our protagonist strong throughout. If we make them appear weak, the reader loses interest in the character. No one wants to hear about a wimpy hero. There is no such thing, right? No matter the character’s weaknesses we need to keep them at alpha status. The same goes for the Antagonist. The Antagonist should be equal in status to the Protagonist. However, in order to overcome the evil Antagonist, the Protagonist needs to be slightly smarter. Otherwise, how would he outsmart the bad guy?

There were so many other great things to consider when building a great character, so many more details Steven James imparted. I wish I could list them here for you. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend you make every effort. If not, get his books. I plan to get them because I’m sure there is much more I can use than what I learned at the conference.

Next post I’ll share what I learned about building an Author platform with some tips I got from Dan Case, another great speaker who is a past President of OWFI, editor of Writing for DOLLARS!, and will be lecturing in Ft. Worth, TX in June 2012. I hear it will be on blogging. I’m going to try and make it.

I’ve got a lot of thinking to do in developing my characters this week as well as working on my outline which is due end of this month. One thing I did accomplish last week was laying out a schedule for completing my first draft by end of August 2012 and all revisions by end of year, 2012.

One last thing, I found some great blog postings on Steven James’s blog and other guest blogs featuring him as well. Great stuff packed with writing wisdom. Enjoy!

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