Tag Archives: Motivation

A Writer Writes… to What End?

For whatever reason, I’ve been seeing a bunch of memes about writers writing, writers writing ’til they’ve finished (whether or not it’s good, they can always rewrite, etc.) and so on.

So what if you’re wondering about the point of all this? Well, for a motivation Monday, Monica Leonelle has a bunch of questions and exercises to ask yourself.

Now I’m going to get back to writing.

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Writing Advice from George R. R. Martin

Since I did a Monday motivational post last week about writing, I figured I’d delve into that well again, especially since motivational YouTuber Evan Carmichael went ahead and did a compilation video of another well known speculative fiction author.

Truth be told, I actually haven’t read much of George R. R. Martin’s work. I commented to friends that I’d try his landmark series, A Song of Ice and Fire, after the TV show Game of Thrones was over — and I’m

But I’ve found him to be an engaging and insightful speaker whenever I’ve heard interviews with him and that proves to be the case here. I especially like his tip to read widely, not just comic books and sci-fi and such. He’s a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy and comics, of course, but he loves history and mystery and all sorts of other things… and goodness knows I think reading more across all genres helps one’s writing.

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Writing Advice from Neil Gaiman

I’ve been talking with several people offline about writing, so my web wanderings led me to this compilation by motivational YouTuber Evan Carmichael.

I’ve seen many of these clips before, but it was nice to see them in one place. I especially like the notion of walking toward the mountain (which I’ve heard other people speak of in other terms) as well as the notions of where ideas come from (which may be worth a future post in and of itself).

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

It could be because we all have a bit more time to think about how we’ll reflect back on these days, or how we’re trying to help our children through this, but this video hit me particularly now.

With apologies to Polonius, I think I’ll lead with this one in addressing my own Laertes.

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Get Some Writing Inspiration

Last weekend… I did a bunch of chores. But I also did said chores while watching multiple panels and some breakout sessions for the Online Writer’s Conference I talked about last week.

If you missed it, good news! You can check out the panels from both days on the same website.

Day One
Day Two

Combined, it’s over 13 hours worth of insights and techniques from working novelists, screenwriters, and others.

So check it out! Perhaps while you’re taking care of a bunch of chores. I’m going to do that because I’m sure I missed a few things. Whatever works!

Successful Self-Publishing Case Studies

Given the sheer numbers of self-published books, it statistically unlikely that someone will make a living via self-publishing… except that given the sheer number of self-published books there’s a non-trivial number of writers who make a living via self-publishing.

So with that caveat in mind, take a look at Sam Haysom’s article on Mashable about three self-published authors who have succeeded.

Barry Lyga on Writing What You Know (kinda)

I’ve been musing on the old –and to my mind, inaccurate– advice to “write what you know” and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it.

Barry Lyga, as per his website (which you should check out).

But in the meantime –and perhaps for the better– how about I just link to a piece by novelist (and occasional Tohubohu screenwriter) Barry Lyga?

There’s a whole lot of nuggets in here, but I won’t spoil them for you. Suffice to say I agree with a lot of this and find that understanding how you’re like your characters and their experiences has rung true for me as both an actor and a writer.

As it happens, he has over 50 articles of writing advice on his website, so if you like what he has to say, read on! (And I’m sure he’d suggest picking up some of his books. Writers gotta eat, y’know).

But first things first, check out why you should write what you know (kinda).

Murakami on Magic and Writing

Haruki Murakami

Magic and writing? Redundant, I know.

But anyway, this is from last year, but Japanese writer Haruki Murakami‘s birthday was yesterday, so it popped up in some of my feeds.

Emily Temple over at LitHub collected several of his observations on writing and –what can I say?– they’re a good way to start off the week.

Maybe Don’t Do a New Year’s Resolution

We’re just about a week into 2020, so people are doubtless hitting the gym, watching what they eat, reading more, or other laudable goals.

I haven’t set any official resolutions this year, though I am trying to figure out some goals for the year (have a massive and varied to-do list/bucket list/bunch of other lists via Workflowy). Being a project manager, I’m trying to figure out what’s realistic and what’s a stretch.

If you’re looking to shake things up for yourself this year, you might want to consider picking a resolution “Marie Kondo style” in the moment or perhaps you don’t want to choose any resolutions whatsoever.

Given the recent scientific questioning of self-control and “willpower” in any case, you might want to consider what will most help you look back on 2020 and feel it was a good year.

McQuarrie on Making Things and Playing the Lottery

Moving on from trying to make hobbies conspicuously unproductive, there’s the notion on not waiting on one’s creative aspirations and making things.

I wrote a longer post a couple years ago about this need to do and complete creative works, in part referencing the column above. Time is finite for us mere mortals, so you need to figure out where to feed your creative side while life happens. Maybe it’s on the job, maybe it’s outside it. For many of us indie filmmakers who –surprise, surprise– don’t do filmmaking full-time (see life happening above), that’s quite a task.

One of the notions you’ll see in the links above is the idea to just go ahead and do it. Carpe that diem, even if it annoys Latin scholars that you just mangled that phrase. Mister Keating has your back. Alea iacta est and maybe this time it’s a natural 20.

So, on the one hand, it’s nice to see an industry professional mirror some of those sentiments, which is what Christopher McQuarrie did on Twitter back in October. Not being a Twitter power user, I only picked up on it when someone posted No Film School’s recap recently in a writer group.

Christopher McQuarrie

The main thrust of his tweet thread is that those asking him for where to find an agent, read their script, etc., are asking the wrong questions, because on one level, it’s about submitting to the status quo of “the lottery,” the often random way one finds success and builds a career in Hollywood.

That he notes he realized that he was asking the wrong question and after winning an academy award no less (surely winning the lottery), made me sit up and take notice. In fact, hearing some of the same notions from someone who is absolutely “in the system” and has “won the lottery” that I hear from indie folks encouraging each other was striking.

The whole thread is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight some parts. One is the overall implication that he has played –and won– the lottery, but all that gets you is the ability to play the lottery again. This squares entirely with repeated anecdotes I get from people that Hollywood is a very binary environment, where you can be a one or zero at any time as far as various people believe.

And another implication is that if you’re not making something, you never get to be a ‘one’ in anyone’s eyes. And sometimes that something is not seen hardly at all, or it is seen and judged lacking, yet you focus on the “execution and not the result.”

That’s what I liked about him going beyond the oft-repeated idea of “doing what you love” You have to execute and keep on executing until you there’s more people that find you to be a “one”

On the Wordplay site (where the “Never Wait” column comes from), they mention writing a script is like writing your own lottery ticket. But McQuarrie makes the point several times how making a film, making more than just a screenplay, is actually giving you more chances.

“And it’s infinitely harder to sell a screenplay than it is to sell one’s proven abilities.”

~Christopher McQuarrie

I love that he closes with the notion that the business isn’t something to be broken into so much as you are the business to be acquired, that the creative folks we might look up to like-as-not made their own luck, and many –if not all– of them failed spectacularly along the way.

So make the movie. Do the thing. Don’t wait.