“If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” ~ Norman Mailer
wow. Tolstoy was, amazing. Everyone loves his work. He is a writing god. Yes?
And somedays, maybe you even think that you have that literary genius bubbling up.
You are doing all the right things… and yet?
Rejection after rejection, after rejection. big sigh
First of all….It’s not getting the rejections that you should be focusing on, young padawan… it’s how many submissions you are putting out there in the ether.
Writing, like most sadomasochistic endeavors, is a numbers game. It’s about pushing through barriers and about persistance. Forget sleep. Forget food. Forget dust bunnies and fine dining.
And forget about Tolstoy.
You are not him. The days of writers like him are over.. can you ever imagine anyone saying anything like this… about a contemporary author?
The Soviets planted him at the top of their literary pantheon, largely because of the radical philosophy he preached amid the early rumblings of the October Revolution. The publication of “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” made Tolstoy so famous that one contemporary described him as Russia’s second czar. He used that position to rail against the church, as well as the police, the army, meat eating, private property and all forms of violence.
Lenin loved Tolstoy’s “pent-up hatred.” He anointed him “the mirror of the Russian Revolution,” ignoring his pacifism and belief in God. As the 50th anniversary of his death approached, the Central Committee of the Communist Party began preparing two years in advance, so a monument would be ready for unveiling.
Okay, so now.. your petty rejections feel a little bit less harsh. and yet?
You want to be loved. You think your story was the best thing you’d ever written. You believe your novel is perfect and needs no edits. You just know that Oprah would cry if she read it. Heck, your Mom loved it, right?
listen to this:
Ten years ago Tolstoy’s great great grandson asked the church to revisit the 1901 ruling that excommunicated his great-great-grandfather. He never got an answer.
read more about TOLSTOY’S snubbing here
You’ve read it a million times.
Just do it.
You’ve heard it said… Getting your butt in the chair is the hardest thing.
So you bought a nice comfy chair…and now, in this new year? In 2011?
You have decided you will finally write. Every day.
And you can.
Don’t think you’ll write good words every day- or that you will like what you write everyday, or even that the words you write will be anything more than a list for the grocery store.
The thing is to get in the habit of having pen and paper, or computer, or smart phone handy for when those story ideas do some. That is what we’re driving for.
Writing, not as a chore, but as a habit.
Need a starting point?
If you are someone who gets easily distracted, or needs to work on a deadline, try these timers and alarms.
If you need goals and accountability? Join a local or online writing group that will keep you both motivated and on track with your projects.
And if you still need a kick in the butt? Write to us here. Let’s get you involved at one of our coastal 5 day writing retreats, where we guarantee you will get and stay on track.
Because that’s what writers do for each other.
Guest post by Author J. L. Miles.
I started my writing career when our children left home and my husband insisted they weren’t coming back unless they needed money. Previously, I wanted to be a movie star, but when the mirror confirmed that my theatrical-clock had not only stopped ticking, it was at the cemetery, I thought writing might be a better choice. While at the dentist waiting on a root canal—never make career decisions while waiting on a man with a knitting needle who intends to stab you in the mouth with it—I picked up a tattered paperback entitled The Writer’s Little Instruction Book.
Spooky! I was merely contemplating the idea of becoming a N.Y. Times bestselling author and the perfect manual appeared. Surely God, his angels, and all the saints were trying to tell me something, right? I didn’t consider that maybe the devil and his deceivers were having a good laugh. The book listed 365 (give or take) secrets for writing and getting published. Perfect! It was an omen. In 365 days I’d be on the bestsellers list. I simply needed to master one little ole secret a day. The first one I came across was the key to a successful story. It was threefold: 1. Get your protagonist up a tree. 2. Put a tiger under the tree. 3. Get your protagonist out of the tree.
Elementary! I was on my way and about to discover secret #2, when the receptionist called my name. It was time for my root canal. Piece of cake—I was on a mission to greatness. Not even that flashing knitting needle held high in Dr.I-Forget-his-name’s hand would stop me now. Four injections (the first three didn’t take), and two hours later I drove home not the least bit interested in the N. Y. Times, its bestsellers list, or who was on it.
Tomorrow, I’d begin the great American novel, the minute my feet hit the floor, the instant my brain met the coffee. However—don’t you hate that word?—I forgot about one character defect I’ve struggled with most of my life: I’m a world class procrastinator. If they ever give out Pulitzer’s on the subject, I’ll be a major contender. Not to say I don’t get things done. I do. But I tend to do them one minute before time’s up.
Procrastination is not a good attribute for an author. All the best books on writing (there are slews of good ones; here are my favorites: Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Berg, Julie Cameron, Stephen King—and Walter Mosely’s brand new contribution), state clearly that writers are to place themselves before the computer (or notepad, or typewriter) at precisely the same time each day for precisely the same amount of pre-determined hours each day (weekends and holiday included), in order to not only hone one’s craft, but to complete the manuscript at hand. Ahhh. . .that might be a problem.
The moment I get out of bed, I tend to explore the world around me and assess the damages, making a list as I go. Stupid little things like, I forgot to do the laundry, again and there’s no clean underwear, the milk’s sour, there’s nothing to eat but cat food, the garbage hasn’t been dragged to the curb in a month, and the refrigerator filter hasn’t been changed since we invaded Iraq. The list grows as I walk from room to room. Are those fur balls under the dining room table really having grandchildren? Can’t be, last week they were barely parents. I climb under to investigate. I meander from room to room, procrastination taking over the morning. I get out the phone book. Surely there’s an organization that can assist me. There has to be. I’m on the verge of being a bestselling author! I need recovery.
The yellow page lists Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Cheaters Anonymous, Kleptomaniacs Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous. There are groups for Obsessive Compulsion Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Bi-Polar Disorder, but absolutely no procrastinators support group. There must be an organization meeting somewhere. Actually a helpline would be my choice. A number I could call the moment I find no underwear I’m willing to wear or encounter a chore I’m tempted to do—featuring a commanding voice like my mothers that will instruct me to immediately march over to my computer and bolt myself to the chair for a minimum of three hours, and call her in the morning.
I look through the entire collection of yellow pages I’ve amassed, as well as the local newspaper’s classified ads and find nothing to assist me. Obviously, I’m one of a mere handful of major procrastinators in existence. There are simply not enough of us to require a network of supporters. Yikes! I’m on my own. I search the room for answers and spot my computer. It’s waiting, perfectly able to do my bidding. And I only have 364 more secrets to master. Glory be—I’m ready to discover them!
I dash to the computer, sit down triumphantly, and put my hands on the keys. At last! I’m ready to write the great American novel. However—the phone rings. It’s my mother. She’s waiting on me. “Did you forget you need to take me to the dentist?” Ahhh. . .yah, I did, but I don’t tell her that. “I’m on my way!” I say instead. I get up from my computer and grab my car keys.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin the great American novel, the minute my feet hit the floor, the instant my brain meets the coffee.
J. L. (Jackie Lee) Miles is the author of Cold Rock River and the critically acclaimed Roseflower Creek
Write to Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the website at http://www.jlmiles.com