Friday, October 7, 2016

Central Coast Writer's Conference

Always a fan of the Central Coast Writer’s Conference, it didn’t surprise me that I loved it again this year and have lots to share. Today I’ll focus on some important points that impressed me from author, Jonathan Maberry:

[JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning suspense author, editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.]   
He says:

  • Writing is an art, an intimate conversation between writer and reader. No one can write in your unique way.  
  • Publishing is a business – of selling art and has no obligation of selling the best or of not selling the worst. The challenge for a writer is to work within the publishing world in a way that allows him to continue doing his art.
  • And never mix up the two in your mind.

Your art comes from within and no one can duplicate your exact life experience and expression. As an artist, you’re not in competition. And sales are no indication that you are or are not an accomplished writer. 

Writers may find it difficult to accept this concept, and I think it might be one of the reasons for some of the depression that can plague a creative. If you’re not monetarily successful, you feel like a failure—like you suck! And if you are monetarily successful, you sail high, maybe with a bit of ego, but it doesn’t mean you’re a good writer.

Only you can define what success is for you—and it may not be tied to money. What are your goals? Define them clearly. Why do you write? When you put on the writer hat—what do you want to achieve? And when you put on the publishing/marketing hat, the business hat, what’s your goal for monetary success and how do you plan to achieve it? 

Maberry says a working writer should be willing to write anything—any genre, short story, blog post, script, etc. He advised, “Write anything you think you’re not good at.”

He thinks that we, as writers, mythologize the process of writing, and that we need to treat it like a job. As an entrepreneur business person, show up at the same time every day and produce. Give yourself a word count which you can easily reach each day, and then reward yourself when you reach it. (You can obviously raise that word count as time goes by, but it should be a goal you can reach without stress.) His suggestions:
  • Post content on social media every day.
  • Spend 50 minutes of each hour writing and 10 minutes on social media.
  • It’s your job to learn craft.
  • Read the top 6 books in your genre and deconstruct them.
  • He recommends using the Donald Maass workbook for each of your novels; Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.
  • Do your craft at the concisest speed you can (if you have the business of publishing in mind). One book a year is preferable to keep your writing business flowing.

Now, the panel of screenwriters and authors on Friday night all agreed that the creative process is whatever works for you.
  • Know what you’re a fan of, and that’s what you should write.
  • The stories that take hold in you, those are the ones you have to write. They grow inside you and evolve, rather than you just making up scenes to fill a novel. 
  • Peter Dunne (Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer and writer); “Ideas find me, I don’t go looking for them.  
  • Use sleep; break your problem down to its smallest piece, write it out before bed, then sleep on that (not literally, but hey, that might work even better).    
  • Gene Perret (Comedy writer) on writer’s block—“Writers are the only people who name an illness after themselves.
    Now go forth and create!

What do you struggle with most, the art or the business? Post in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I so agree with everything in this post. This struck me "Read the top 6 books in your genre and deconstruct them" I did this with several books in the Amanda Pepper series by Gillian Roberts. Very helpful.

I might add walking (or any physical exercise) to the list of creativity boosters.

Cora said...

Good suggestion. Exercise is soooo important for writers who sit all day. Thanks, Maggie.