So, how serious are you?

Well, James Scott Bell didn’t waste any time getting right down to business. I love it. Chapter two begins with a list of ten characteristics he thinks we must have or start developing in order to have a successful fiction-writing career. I created a visual of how I think I measure up:

I love what he said about talent. It’s the least important. “Everyone has some talent. It’s what you do with it that counts.” Gives me hope. 🙂 The cool thing about this list is that it all comes down to choice, except Talent, of course. We can choose to be committed, teachable, and passionate. The first battle is in our mind. “Because what happens in your head affects everything else.” What about you? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What are you or will you do this year to improve on them?

At the end of the chapter Bell gives us several quotes. What are your thoughts? Did you write them down?

“I decided that I would continue to write as long as I lived, even if I never sold one thing, because that was what I wanted out of my life. ~George Bernau

–My thoughts:

When I went through this book the first time, I grabbed a hold of my dream like a bulldog in a dog fight. But since then, I’ve had my jaw pried open and a little reality check. I still resolve to write, forever. But to balance everything, knowing what to sacrifice and what not to. If I knew I would never sell a book…would I keep writing? Perhaps not in the same fashion,  but since I will never know I guess I will keep trying because you don’t know until you quit  or die trying. Lovely. What do I want out of my life? Is the journey to publication that…consuming? So, going back to the whole lifestyle choice thingy…

“You must want it enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft–then you can add all the genius you like. ~Phyllis Whitney

–Yes! Yes, yes, yes! I totally agree. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner had an awesome post on this topic.

Which, I think, goes hand-in-hand with the next quote:

“In Boot Camp, tough sergeants deliberately try to break the morale of inducted men. Those who break they send back to civilian life, or to some more or less ignominious chore in the army life. There are two or three hundred thousand ‘writers’ who ‘write at’ at writing in this country. Ninety percent of them make next to nothing. The few who do get by are those who were not “broken” in the Boot Camp of their own wills, or lack of same.” ~Jack Woodford


So, what say you?


5 thoughts on “So, how serious are you?

  1. C. Garrett says:

    Love the graphic!

    It’s a key insight that most of those components involve choice. I’ve always been able to write well–in my mind at least I feel I have some talent at it. But what does that really get you? Unless you actually sit down at the computer and write consistently, you’re in that 90% that Jack Woodford mentions. Unless you’re willing to learn how stories are put together through trial and error and improve your craft, you’re not a writer, you’re a wannabe writer.

    And that simply takes tough choices. One of my favorite insights is from Orson Scott Card (“How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy”), and it’s stuck with me for years. On the topic of Discipline:

    “The discipline has to come from within. Don’t wait for a muse to strike and force you to your typewriter. Such events are rare–in my experience, muses tend to strike those who are at the keyboard typing their brains out, not those who are playing video games in the basement.”

    Did I mention I got a Wii for Christmas?

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      😀 my hubby got a Wii last year…for exercising, of course. But the game that got played the most…Super Mario Bros.

      Thanks. I didn’t want to spend paragraphs summarizing how I measured up, so I decided to play around in publisher a bit. And it worked. I’ll have to see what else I can come up with…

      I think it’s a time to reread Card’s How-to book. I do agree with you about the discipline. I have noticed when I make a regular habit of staying on task, typing, writing, working on something, the more and more my creativity flows. I’ve not experienced writer block yet…but I have realized when I’ve been away for awhile it takes a bit a time to get back in the groove and, really, it has come down to a battle of wills. Mind over body. Sleep or write? Break out the caffeine.

  2. Kessie says:

    I love your graph! I think it’s right, too. I used to teach art class to ages 5-10. There were kids with talent and kids with not so much talent. But no matter how much talent they had, it was the ones who loved it and worked furiously at it who improved by leaps and bounds. That seems to apply to anything in life.

    Hard Work > Talent

  3. J. L. Mbewe says:

    Thanks Kessie. I totally agree!

  4. Aaron DeMott says:

    I too, love the graph. 😉

    I think I’m pretty good in most of those, kinda weak in business, but ready and willing to learn.

    I worry about talent sometimes, but I look at it the same way as the George Bernau quote. Hey, I’m having fun…

    My problem area is discipline. I’ve written about 1,000 words give or take a few hundred this month (um, I’ve sat down to write once…) and only about 200 in December.
    The thing about this that irks me, is I know I can do it. I wrote 52,187 words in just November. I need to figure out how to get my act together, and poke myself in the rear with a mental cattle prod to actually DO it.

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