Posts Tagged ‘Hard Work’

No Luck

For any of you who’s EVER tried to play the guitar, check this kid out: Keep in mind that most of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s songs are so difficult to play that most guitarists have an arm that just cramps up after a short while:

Now check out the master playing the same song “Rude Mood”:

I’ve heard people say, “I tried playing guitar, but I just didn’t have any luck with it.”

There’s no luck. There’s only faith that you will succeed and being prepared by practicing…ALOT.


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I’m an avid reader of Michael Hyatt’s blog. His advice is succinct and usually very practical.

This post contains some very useful information for bloggers and writers in general:


You can find out more about Michael Hyatt here.

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Here’s a great video by To-Fu  “29 Ways to Stay Creative”. My favorite is number 14. What’s yours?

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Watch the video below and ask yourself, “What have I done today to get that one perfect shot, write that one succinct sentence, or make that one brush stroke that brings it all together?” Everything in life is a process. Art, especially so.

On Assignment from renan ozturk on Vimeo.

Find a way to take the first step toward your goal, then another, and another… Soon, you’ll realize you’ve made progress.

When chasing your dreams, doing something is always better than doing nothing. And, as is often the case, the more you stretch your limits – the more beauty you will capture.

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I’m so pleased to have Renea Winchester, a two time author and blogger, here today as a guest.  She’s put together an article on finding the right critique group for you.  Enjoy!

Finding a Critique Group that Works for You

by Renea Winchester

Finding the right critique group is almost as important as landing an agent. The solitary process of writing permits authors to fall headlong into a deep, blinding love with their work. Those who weave words onto paper are often pregnant with multiple characters, giving birth to each one after months, or years of arduous suffering. With so much time and effort spent building this relationship, it’s almost impossible not to adore the people you create. Which is exactly why you need a critique group; even those who write the most perfect book filled with seemingly flawless characters can overlook minor faults.

Critique groups should contain fellow authors who are knowledgeable, yet respectful, of your work. The first time I braved a critique group was disastrous. The room was filled with twenty authors. By that I mean, “real” authors with PhD behind their name and multiple books proudly displayed on their shelves. At exactly 6 pm, stapled sheets of manuscript were launched down the table. I grabbed the pages and it began. Words, spoken aloud, tumbled about the room while I followed along, pen-in-hand, searching for a mistake. Three minutes later, the excerpt had been read. Two minutes of comments were allowed, then it was someone else’s turn. No author comments permitted.

This fast-paced reading bonanza continued until I thought my head would explode. The diverse group read screenplays, book proposals, works of fiction and non-fiction. Contrasting genres and subject matter forced us outside our realm of expertise, which is an important task in order to grow as an author. However, the quality of their work made me realize I was way out of my league.

My apprehension grew with each new critique. Even though everyone welcomed me, I lacked confidence. Instead of paying attention to the written words, my thoughts wandered. There was no way I would whisper a word from my lips. Instead, I wanted to bolt from the room, rush home and burn everything I had ever written.

It would be several months before I attempted another critique group. This time, only five authors met. I calmed my nerves and settled into the chair. The group leader explained the rules: read up to seven pages of double-spaced manuscript; listen to the responses; offer no defense; final decision and changes are your call. I nodded and focused on the manuscript given me by an elderly gentleman. When he had finished reading, he looked around the room waiting for comments. I noticed seasoned members of the group exchanged reluctant glances as if to say, “you go first, I went first last time.”

Finally, someone spoke. Using a soft voice, with eyes downcast, she pointed out minor errors, not mentioning what I felt were glaring mistakes. Suddenly, the elderly man slammed his fist on the table, loudly argued his point, and cursed. I’ve always heard how difficult it is to receive constructive criticism, but his outburst left me shaken. I kept my mouth shut about his work, and mine.

Finally, I found the group for me, one with a balance of published authors and greenhorns; a group with a mixture of genres that stretches my creative muscle. The group has given me the confidence to finally read my work aloud, listen to their suggestions, keep the curse words to myself, and hopefully grow as an author.

Renea Winchester is the author of In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomates. Her next book Stress Free Marketing for the Newly Published Author will be released in the fall of  2011 and is focused on taking the anxiety out of marketing your work. She may be reached at reneawrites@gmail.com, or reneawinchester.com.

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Harlan Ellison

I warn you now that Harlan Ellison  is not for the faint of heart.  He is, however, one of the greatest writers bar none.  I was first introduced to Ellison through his fiction. One quote about watching TV grabbed me. Harlan Ellison describes it as “sucking on the glass teet.” He is unapologetic and a true gonzo writer. What inspires me most about Ellison is that he does not live behind the keyboard or hide behind an agent. He puts himself out there and has a ‘take it on the chin’ attitude. Say what you will, but whatever Ellison is writing about or commenting about it matters. So much in today’s writing, scripting, and even in our own lives just doesn’t matter because it requires too much. Too much energy, too much time, too much attitude, too much conflict, too much pain, too much love, too much outrage. For God’s sake, whatever you write about – let it matter and make people feel something one way or the other. Or, in the words of Harlan Ellison:

“Like a wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we were, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.”
— Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison describes the pursuit of the written word perfectly:

“When you’re all alone out there, on the end of the typewriter, with each new story a new appraisal by the world of whether you can still get it up or not, arrogance and self-esteem and deep breathing are all you have. It often looks like egomania. I assure you it’s the bold coverup of the absolutely terrified.”
— Harlan Ellison (Shatterday)

And what to write about:

“The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. […] There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the ‘normal’, the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.” -H. Ellison

And how to write and how to edit:

 “Never be afraid to go there.” – H. Ellison

“To say more is to say less.”  – Harlan Ellison

Now that blogging is more of a sport than an art form, I rely on these words:

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”  – Harlan Ellison

Finally, here is what Harlan Ellison has to say about how writers should behave and be compensated:

Warning!!! As most Harlan Ellison interviews do – this interview has profanity in it.  PS The check’s in the mail Harlan….the check’s in the mail.

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I describe inspiration and how it feels to me this way:  The way Bugs Bunny dances when he’s on top of gold or a carrot. Remember the cartoon where Bugs is doing this wacky, jerky dance every time he walks on top of gold (or a carrot)?Many of you won’t get that reference, but my fellow looney-toons will. Regardless of if you get it or if you don’t, all of us know that inspirations can strike like summer thunderstorm and then disappear as quickly as it blew up.

I draw inspiration by writing down what may seem mundane or even silly to me. You have to kill the thought that “No body wants to hear about that” and write it down in your notebook as a suggestion for a post.

Writing is hard work. Who knew?! Keep the pen moving. Don’t put it down unless you are ready to stab yourself in the eye with it, then it might be time for a break.

I like the quote from Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

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