Writing: Remove the Rose-Colored Glasses

Writing - glassesValentine’s Day has passed. I hope your loved ones benefited. Romance is great for relationships, but no so good for progressing in your writing.

A recent comment from Dana Mentink sparked this blog post idea. I commented on her article “Why there is no such thing as Writer’s Block…” This was her response:

“Thanks Peter. I checked out your blog. Full of good practical advice. Sometimes I think writing is presented as this mysterious art form when really I find it’s mostly just a lot of very hard work!”

I agree. There are some writer-types (friends of yours, not you) who wear the rose-colored writing-glasses. They attend workshops, and occasionally write a line or two, secretly hoping someone will knock on their door and discover them. Because you are a good friend, here are some suggestions to help them remove the glasses.

1. Work. I can’t say it better. Writing isn’t a mysterious art form we grasp after wrestling with the universe and pleading with our gray matter to drop us a morsel. It is rolling up your sleeves, grabbing a shovel and digging. Need inspiration? Don’t wait around for it; go chase it down.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso

2. Read. Writing requires sharpening your skills. While working on contributing your nuggets to the world, read what others have written too. I would recommend reading at least one good book per month, plus reading or re-reading a book on writing.

Free- Writing- Free or Not3. Invest. You may have to invest in some writing tools, books and conferences along the way. For a time, your writing might have to become a priority over movies, eating out, and the tall-double-mocha-fill-in- the-blank from Starbucks.
Warning: My inside voice coming out – Here’s a thought about those writing books and other tools – you can check out books from the library and there is a wealth of information on the internet, but consider investing in those who have gone before you. If they took time to put their heart down on paper to guide you, perhaps their thoughts are worth a few of your dollars to learn from them. They are hoping to get paid for their time and effort too.

4. Write. Yes, write more than you talk about it. Write letters, submissions and proposals, and then send them out. Even when you don’t have an assignment, you can fill up a sheet of paper or your computer screen anyway. You have to keep in practice or you get rusty. Words will fly from your fingers bound for all corners of the earth, or they will fall flat based on the time you devote.

Writing - shovelIf I have caused cracks in your friend’s rose-colored glasses, I am sorry. My intention was to let in some light. Let them know there are two choices: get the lens fixed and continue on, or trash the glasses altogether and invest in a shovel. Glasses or shovel, I’ll still say “Hello” at conferences. I’ll still encourage you here on this blog and I’ll keep writing as an example to follow.

If you liked this, here are a couple of related posts.
Writer’s Reality Check
Writing’s Legends

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24 comments on “Writing: Remove the Rose-Colored Glasses
  1. Thank you for the post, Peter! I’m new to your blog and been checking out past posts and really enjoying the process.

    I like what you said about “write more than you talk about it” — reminded me of the saying “God gave us only one mouth but two ears for a reason”. 🙂

    • Great point, one I try to adhere too. Thank you for your feedback. I love comments, suggestions and email, so stop back. Aside from this one, two of the most popular recent post were the one on rejection and the one about excuses. Have a great day.

  2. My “friend” liked your post and says thanks!

  3. Gwen says:

    Such good advice! I totally agree with “Write more than you talk about it.” I’ve become a bit secretive about my writing — whether fiction or commercial — because I find not only is talking about your work often a waste of time, but it also dilutes the power and enthusiasm for your writing.

    When you’re itching with a great idea, you need to put that energy to work, well, working. Not talking. And if your great idea is poorly received by the person you talk with, then you’re really apt to never put in the work on it. I’ve been in that situation before, and it’s a terrible thing to have a deflated concept before it even sees the page!

  4. tyroper says:

    I liked this comment:
    “4. Write. Yes, write more than you talk about it.”
    Great practical post.

  5. dmswriter says:

    Great post, Peter. Writing really is about work – sitting down when you don’t feel like it, sticking with it when you’d rather be doing something, anything else! The cool thing about writing? The fact that the piece you just finished is fresh and new – it’s never existed before in the whole history of the earth, and you own it, you wrote it. This thought keeps me motivated during my down times.

  6. EHayes says:

    But I was so depending on my muse to do all the work for me. Shucks. 🙂

    Great post, Peter. It does take a lot of work, which means writing a bunch of stuff that no one will ever see. And sometimes putting down that murder mystery thriller to spend some time with a professional development book.

    And it’s worth it.

    • Hi Erica, I’m enjoying these comments as much as writing the post. The muse will wander off now and then, but when it finds you still writing it gets jelous and jumps in. In the end you can go for easy or you can go for worth it.

  7. Sahm King says:

    On the work thing, you mean to tell me that a novel won’t just materialize in MS Word for me? Dreaming up awesome is hard as it is. I suppose it’s a good point, though… 🙁

  8. If something is important to you–whether it’s exercising or writing–you’ll make time for it, invest in it, and be the best you can be at it. Great post!

  9. Papizilla says:

    Reblogged this on The Ranting Papizilla and commented:
    There you go my friends. Check it out.

  10. Dionne says:

    I like what you said about trading in the investment of writing with some of our steady luxuries (fabulous coffee drinks or other frivolous stuff, etc.). I think there’s something to be said for also trading in a bit of time right? Maybe get up 30 minutes earlier to work out at the gym and work out with your words. Or “schedule” in the writing. I think it’s so easy to allow other things in our life to take priority over our writing (believe me I get it). But writing just doesn’t happen does it? A writer carves out the time to make writing happen (whether it’s income producing writing or not). Just as we might schedule anything else, we have to schedule in our writing. Nice post!

  11. mcwoman says:

    Peter — Right on! I get a kick out of “friends” who criticize and never attempt to pick up a pen themselves and have the courage to put their words out to the universe. To actually WRITE something isn’t magical — like you said, it’s a combination of reading, writing and writing some more.

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"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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