Last week I talked about identifying my weaknesses as a writer and announced my plan to create my own master class on writing. In the week since, I’ve been diving into the planning phase a bit more. I know what I want to learn, I just have to find the best ways to learn it. Sometimes, that isn’t entirely easy.
Right now, I basically have two goals:
- Improve my storytelling craft
- Re-find my passion for writing
The fourth goal is to be unanimously declared Pharaoh of Earth, but that is a whole other post.
So, with those three goals in mind, I just need to start looking at how to achieve them.
After all the mopey self-loathing and repetitive personal hatred, I thought I’d see what people think I’m doing right.
In Write to Market*, Chris Fox recommends spending some time reading the reviews for the bestselling books in your genre. The idea is to learn what your audience enjoys and what they don’t.
If I’m going to min-max my skills as a writer, I need more than just my own opinions on where I stand, so I decided to follow Chris Fox’s advice. But, in addition to reading reviews from across my genre, I want to really focus on learning from reviews of my own work.
At first, I thought it would be painful. I’ve been sent into the emo-spiral from a bad review before. But, I think the mindset shift of using reviews as a learning opportunity made it easier to swallow the bitter pill.
And, I do think I learned something.
The negative reviews pretty much bullseyed my insecurities. Basically, nothing about my writing stands out and the plot is slow and confusing.
The good news, the positive reviews tend to point out some of the same things, too. The people who read through my series ignore its many flaws because they dig my characters.
This is encouraging to me. I feel like plotting is a skill I can learn. Even better, it’s a skill I feel I know how to learn.
Granted, I’ve spent the better part of the last year trying to learn it, so there’s that.
Of course, there’s only so much learning out there before you start doing. I’m squarely in the ready to for practicing, now.
And though it pains me to say it, I think I can only do that by starting on something completely new. Which also makes it harder to dive in.
So I have to remind myself how to get motivated.
Once upon a time, I had a gluttony for getting words onto the page. It didn’t even feel like work. My fingers hit the keyboard and then several hours were gone.
Then, one day, a different poof. The thrill was gone from writing. I was slogging through a chore. And not a good chore, like making the bed or doing dishes. A nasty chore, like cleaning the litter box.
The struggle left me feeling tired and empty. The idea of trying to create anything—forget creating something good—was more overwhelming than I wanted to deal with.
So, I didn’t deal.
But when you’re a writer (and I assume this is true for other artists), you can’t just stop. It’s a drug. It really is. Go long enough, and you start to crave it more or less constantly.
Doesn’t change the imposing wall of fear standing between you and the words, though. It’s a cycle.
I realized it was tied to the same part of my brain that causes depression. And, for the most part, I know how to deal with my depression.
More or less.
Better yet, one realization I had in the last year was one of my primary coping mechanisms for depression is blogging.
See, as much as I sincerely hope every blog post is a smash hit. I try for an entertaining piece of philosophy, reason, emotional resonance… and fart jokes. But, ultimately, I’m writing to clear something from my soul.
It has the added benefit of being… you know… writing.
Heck, this time last year, I had more or less decided to stop blogging entirely. Spent the entire year frozen in my chair, incapable of writing, too.
I’m sure there’s no correlation, there. At all.
Of course, since I started blogging again, things are starting to work themselves free. The gears are rusty, but they’re at least turning. It’s a good feeling.
I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I’m ready to start working again, but I’m still not entirely sure what I should be working on, yet.
The big drawback of knowing you need to do something different is opening up the giant can of worms that is possibility.
But that’s a pretty good place to be, too.
*Amazon affiliate linkage. Because even ridiculously small commissions are worth pimping my emotional well-being for.