Here’s a collection of quotes I often use with writers before we listen to each other’s work. What resonates with you?
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. — Ralph Nichols
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. ~Winston Churchill
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force…When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life…When we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other…and it is this little creative fountain inside us that begins to spring and cast up new thoughts and unexpected laughter and wisdom. …Well, it is when people really listen to us, with quiet fascinated attention, that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way. ~~Brenda Ueland
It is the province of knowledge to speak And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. ~~Oliver Wendell Holmes
The first duty of love is to listen. ~~Oliver Wendell Holmes
The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. ~~Henry David Thoreau
An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside of one’s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, step in inside his or her shoes. ~~M. Scott Peck, MD
“No one, and I mean no one, writes alone in an attic with no support. Think about it: in order to stay in an attic all day doing your thing, someone has to shop, cook and clean for you, do the laundry, bring you new supplies. If we’ve heard of a writer, someone edited and published them. Someone bought the books.
“My point is: the myth of the lonely artist serves none of us. If you have a dream to write, get a buddy, take a class, find a group, or get support to find alone time if that is what you need.” — Elizabeth Stark
What are you searching for?
So how do you find the support you need? Check out the following resources:
The resources are out there and many stories sit inside your head, waiting to be told. Writer Advice has a manuscript consultation service, which I run, and I also teach Independent Study, working one-on-one with you and your writing, through Story Circle Network. Why face the blank page alone when there are resources to help you?
You can see a sample of my writing in the free section of Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62here.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Thinking is great. Doing is better. To encourage you to keep writing, I’d like to share a few excerpts from an interview Carol Smallwood did with me about my new book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. The title says it all, but the memoir says it in so much more detail.
When I started making notes for the book, while Richard and I were dating, I was filled with “what ifs.”
What if this wasn’t the real deal?
What if I lost my identity and my money—not that I had an overwhelming amount.
What if I couldn’t live with 62-years of being alone?
I journaled about these questions and much more. Writing gave me perspective and insight. We got married on February 17, 2012.
Once the book came out, it was time for interviews. Carol Smallwood, a prolific librarian, asked some great questions, and I was happy to answer them. I loved it when she asked, “From working closely with writers, what advice would you give someone struggling with getting started as a writer?
So here are A Dozen Flexible Rules for Struggling Writers:
Write daily. Start by writing for 10-20 minutes.
Give yourself permission to get lost in your writing
Write about whatever you want, and if one day you want to write a list, start there.
Go wherever the writing takes you. No one ever has to read it but you.
When you are done, reread what you’ve written and underline 2-3 places that have energy for you.
Pick one the next day that you really like and start there.
Or write another list.
Or write about whatever is on your mind.
Can’t write? Read a story.
Look at how professionals put a story together.
Go back to your journal and say what you liked about the story.
Let the writing go wherever it wants before repeating Steps 5 & 6.
Start anywhere! Writing daily matters. Your techniques will improve. So will the speed at which you get ideas.
I’ve been writing Monday through Friday for the last 6 weeks or so. Theoretically, I write first thing in the morning—but I usually do some stretches, feed Eddie McPuppers, and pour a cup of coffee before I start. Usually, I write for 10 minutes, but I often go longer. Then polish for another 15-20. I started doing this to help me get back on track after publishing Never Too Late. I don’t consider myself a struggling writer, but this helps so much that I recommend it anytime anyone gets in a slump.
NOTE: If you defy rules:
Quitting is not an option.
Doodling is not an option.
Checking the Internet or my e-mail is not an option.
If I could get going a little earlier, I’d start looking at the flash fiction, flash memoir, and potential for longer stories in this eclectic collection I’m building. You have to have the material before you can start shaping it, and I feel more and more ready to shape and sculpt my stories every day.
As a woman I heard speak recently said, “Write, revise, send, and repeat.” I think I’ve got the first two down. It’s time to start practicing send and repeat, and see where those steps take me.
If you’d like to read Carol’s interview with me and learn more about Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, go to www.writeradvice.com.
B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com. Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was released in December. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregiversand Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.
Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.