Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Play it All


One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.
~ Annie Dillard

Many of us hesitate, procrastinate (that's my specialty; I own it), worry, and berate ourselves when it comes to our writing. We can't do that. We must be brave. Tom Romano says writing is an act of faith and that our nerve must not fail.

We write because we love to write. Most of us are also dreamers, hoping to become "authors" (like Shannon and Beth!) with agents and book deals and validation for what we do. For that, we must be passionate. We have to believe the impossible can and will be made possible through our efforts and talents and tenacity.

So what's my point? Harness your passion for writing and put it to work. Don't avoid your WIP or your revisions. Pour yourself into them. Like Annie said, "spend it all, shoot it, play it..." Buy books to help strengthen your areas of weakness, like Stephen King's On Writing, Les Edgerton's Hooked, Scott Bell's The Art of War for Writers, Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, or Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel.

And then what? Send out those query letters!

What helps you harness your passion and face your fears?

35 comments:

Jen said...

I am lucky enough to have such inspiration for my current WIP that I can't help but harness my passion and write it all out. I've noticed that my story has evolved and will become a series since there is simply to much to put into the first book, however I will say that I write it all and play it all. I'm passionate!!! I'm a believer and a dreamer which is the best place to be!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I hate to say it, but I have to be completely honest here. The only thing that keeps me going is someone elses validation! I can't egg myself on, unfortunately.

Mary Aalgaard said...

It's best for me to not even think about the reaction. I have maybe only one person in mind who will love it, who will always say, Well done, and I write for that person, or I write from my heart, no apologies, then I get the truth. When I'm done, I get the shakes.

Falen said...

I'm actually really excited to Query. It's the stuff that i have to do before that that i'm worried about...

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

wonderful quote! I think I bookmark you every single time you post! lol

thanks Shannon for such a great boost!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Stephanie said...

Absolutely! I attended The Write Stuff conference this past weekend and attended a couple workshops given by James Frey and his biggest advice is to just keep writing. So amazingly simple.

Valerie Geary said...

This made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

L. T. Host said...

The fact that I love it so much. I don't know if I have a better answer than that. I want to see my name on a bookstore shelf someday, and I am willing to get over whatever shortcomings I have to get there.

Kimberly Franklin said...

Great post. I'm a master at procrastination! It's just really hard not to judge your own work sometimes. : )

Susan Quinn said...

"Play it all"

I love that! More than any other field I've worked in (and there have been a few), writing is one that requires the absolute most gut-wrenching risk-taking maneuvers! Like, every day. Every time you write. And then there's publishing.

I don't have a problem with procrastination - I'm more likely to neglect the laundry than the delay the writing - but facing those fears takes some effort.

Tamika: said...

This post just did!

I'm ready to shed my skin of fears and delve into God's call on my life.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Jen - You're right. It IS the best place to be.

Allomorph - You can do it! I believe in you!

Mary - I do too! Shake, shake, shake.

Falen - Ha ha ha. You crack me up.

Princess - Awwww. You totally made my day, Courtney!

Stephanie - Yep! Simple and yet NOT. :-)

Valerie - I'm smiling.

L.T. - And that's exactly why you'll make it!

Kimberly - Yes, yes, and yes! :-)

Susan - So well said!

Tamika - Yay! Me, too. :-)

laurel said...

I think it's knowing another "writer's high" (when I'm totally immersed in the world of my story) is just around the corner if I let myself jump into the pool and start swimming.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I worried when I wrote Book #1 that all my good ideas would be spent there. Now that I'm a third of the way through Book #2 I'm realizing there are more ideas to be had.

I just love all your quotes- keep them coming!

AchingHope said...

Ergh. I need to buy some of those books, because although I've finished a couple of first drafts, taking the steps between there and querying confound me. Gah.

Very good words of wisdom. It is always encouraging (as well as challenging) to come over here. Thank you :)

Kayeleen said...

The thing that moves me is seeing how far I've come. When I can look back at the journey, it makes me that much more excited about where I'm going.

Lydia Kang said...

The writing is dizzying but it really does uplift me, depending on the day. But it's the querying that really scares me!

Conda V. Douglas said...

Thanks Shannon, for the great quote and post. Very timely for me as I am in the querying one/onto the next phase.

Elana Johnson said...

Great advice today, Shannon. And so true. We can't let fear hold us back from putting everything we've got out there. It's hard, but I'm stubborn, which is why I do it.

Susan Fields said...

I ordered Hooked at Barnes & Noble yesterday thanks to your awesome post on beginnings - I can't wait until it comes in!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Great post Shannon--though I'm not sure I deserve to be grouped with amazing talent like Beth. But you're right, you have to lay it all on the line. I was TERRIFIED to query, but I did it and it worked out. I'm trying to remember that as I tackle Laura's editorial notes and feel the panic rising in my chest that I CANT DO THIS. Go big or go home, right?

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great post. And just in time. I'm reengaging my WIP that's been in progress for far too long. :)

Bane of Anubis said...

Have I mentioned that your blog rocks. Love the quotes.

PJ Hoover said...

One of my author friends said it as, "writing is a career built on hope." So we have to keep that hope alive by doing our part.

Terresa said...

Hope helps me harness my passion and face my fears. The hope that someday, my future book can change people, make the world think, shake it up a little, and share it.

Gorgeous quote!

Jemi Fraser said...

Joy always works for me. I love creating 'people' and watching & helping them through their troubles. (I know, I know, they wouldn't have troubles if it weren't for me, but that's not the point!)

Katie Ganshert said...

Great post and I LOVE that quote!

Portia said...

Well said. I like the idea of leaving it all on the table. Who knows when that extra something we give will make the difference?

Shelley Sly said...

True words, my friend! We shouldn't hold back on what or when we write. Quotes like that help inspire me, but even more, encouragement from friends really keeps me going. So thank you! :D

KM said...

I admit it: I'm currently in the hiding-from-my-WIP stage right now. But recognizing I have a problem is the first step, right? lol

Kenda said...

What helps me harness my passion and face my fears? Stubbornness, I guess. I just don't want to quit until I've seen these dreams come true. Not only that, I'm having fun!

Thanks, Shannon, for the encouragement. Your post has served me well :-)

Lorel Clayton said...

Thanks for the pep talk!

Jessie Oliveros said...

Okay, you convinced me. Must go write now.

Tina Lynn said...

Love Annie Dillard. Just. Love. Her. Thanks for the pep talk.

Carolyn V. said...

Shannon! Excellent, excellent post! It's so true! I need to own my wip, not avoid it. Thanks for inspiring me today. =)

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