Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Accentuate the Positive: What If ... ?

When you've been writing for a long time and hung around the vast writing world, it's easy to see a lot of negative things bantered about. Consequently, it's easier to start thinking negatively about others and even worse, about yourself as a writer. So much emphasis is placed on nailing a query letter, your opening pages, your synopsis, your social presence, etc. that it becomes a quagmire of shadowy rules, rejection, deception, and negativity.

Think about your realm of influence for a moment. Are you often a beta reader or an established critique partner? Do you edit or help with PR? I'd even be so bold as to add, are you a literary agent or publisher?

How happy are you? How happy are the people around you? Is daily snark regarding other people the norm? Do you pick up someone's manuscript prepared to be a skeptic?

What if this next week you could only mention the positive things about someone's work?

What if instead of tearing someone down, you show them that they aren't hopeless or crazy but that they do have some things going for them. It may be a lot, it may be a little, but think how much of a boost you could give if that other person knew what they did right for a change.

What if you set a goal not to speak disparagingly of anyone else? What if you decided not to listen to or share gossip?

Focusing on the negative is a piece of cake. While we do need to know what we have to work on to become better writers it doesn't always have to come in a negative or derogatory package. It takes strength of character to be a positive person, someone who is genuinely concerned about helping someone else.

It's as simple as dealing with a child. If you always focus on what that child is doing wrong or where the child is lacking, you destroy their motivation and self-esteem. If you focus on what the child is doing right and point out their strengths, it motivates them to do even better.

Sure publishing is a business but people aren't. Sure you run into delusionals who have an ego the size of Brazil, but most people aren't that way. There is a hopeful person on the other end of that manuscript, someone who is trying to do better and whose basic desire is to share something they created.

Don't assume that they are getting positive vibes from other sources. You may be their only outside influence that day, week, or month regarding their work.

I find it very disturbing that as a society we're obsessed with perfection without having a concrete definition or outline for that perfection. If stripped down to our very core, we are all imperfect people, and you know what, it's okay. As long as we're trying to be a better person each day, isn't it time we chill out and admit that we're never going to reach perfection? Why would we expect everyone else to?

There is enough room for everyone to express themselves. There are so many subjectively diversified tastes out there, don't assume that your subjective tastes are what must be the rule. You may be tired of a premise, but that doesn't mean others are. You may think writing X + U is a bad idea, but that doesn't mean someone else won't think it's a brilliant pairing. Your style won't be the same as someone else's, and that's okay. Their voice will differ from yours as well. It's okay.

Now, I'm not saying you have to love, accept, or buy every story, query, or synopsis that you get. I'm not saying to you have to write a detailed letter of explanation for every rejection you give. But can we ditch the snark in social media for a week? Can we ditch it in our conversations? Can't we write a blogpost saying why we love writers or what they consistently do right? Instead of the "reasons why I'm rejecting this" feeds can we focus on "reasons I love this" feeds instead? If you're critiquing someone else's work, is it so difficult to highlight all the many more places they are getting it right instead of the fewer places they are getting it wrong?

Perhaps I'm the crazy one. I'm guilty of succumbing to the writing world negativity at times too. It's something I intend to change. If any of this has agreed with you, will you join me in a positivity week starting today?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Music to Write By #8: Groovin' with Command and Conquer

... And I'm back.

Let's get back into things with not one but two fun songs to help boost your writing productivity and creativity. Both of these songs were remixed by Scott Peeples on OC Remix and both come from the game Command and Conquer. They're laid-back, chilling out kinds of songs with some funky things woven in. Personally, I like listening to them while outlining, brainstorming, or editing.

First up: Command and Conquer: 'On the Prowl Redux'

And next: Command and Conquer: Red Alert 'Mud Mix'

Question for you:
What's your current theme song or mood music for the story you're working on?