Guest Author - Glenda Schoonmaker
When we picture writers, we often think of someone hunched over a mahogany desk, pounding the words without faltering to create magnanimous reams of text. An agate coaster with half full cup of coffee or now cold tea sits to the side. While deep in thought, the writer swivels the chair to stare at seagulls careening past the west window which overlooks turbulent waves dashing against the rocks below. Suddenly, the chair turns back towards the desk, and the writing begins again.
Sometime later, the manuscript is finished and mailed. The check arrives while the writer is furiously penning another manuscript diminishing the reams of once blank pages.
We can dream anyway. Maybe someday we'll earn that ocean view and mahogany desk.
If you approach your writing as the imaginary author, you may get there after all. What did that author do? That writer kept writing new material without waiting to see how the first manuscript is accepted. The worst thing any writer can do is send a manuscript and wait to get a response. No. You keep working on other material. Soon, you'll be so excited about the new piece that you completely forget about the manuscript already mailed. Ideally, you should have 10-13 manuscripts out in the world seeking publication at all times.
Plus, publishers in today's market will often not buy from a writer if they think that writer is a one-book author. Publishers want to buy into writers who can write and write, and write more. The buying public likes to follow authors so if the publisher thinks you can only write one book, they have no way to keep marketing. Considering books are usually pulled from the shelves by six months after they are published, there's only a short time frame to push those book sales.
So many times writers lament that nothing seems to come to mind to write about or the story doesn't flow right or "if I was meant to write, it would be easier." Hogwash!
The muse doesn't create writers. Writers create and manage the muse.
You don't feel like going to work today? Too bad. You have to punch the time clock no matter what your life circumstances are. Whether you are an environmentalist, factory worker, salesperson, parent, spouse, or student, you still have obligations to heed whether you feel like it or not.
The same is true for the muse. The muse has obligations. You can't wait for the muse to be in the mood to flit through the window to land on your shoulder and direct your thoughts. If writing is just a hobby, then tell the muse that's OK.
If writing is to be a business or profession, then you train the muse. Think of the muse as needing to go to muse obedience training. By forcing yourself to set a pattern in your writing, you are training the muse to be there when you are instead of waiting for it to hopefully come today. With either keeping a repeated pattern of word count, time frame for writing, establishing your writing area in a particular way, or whatever you do to train your personal muse, soon it will no longer have to be tethered on a leash and hope it obeys. It will follow on command each time you write. You'll still write some bad stuff--we all do, but with time and diligence, the bad stuff will get less and less.
The only thing to learn about writing: Things don't just happen. You have to work to make them happen.