ZeldaDad

Most helpful thing you've learned

31 posts in this topic

So, I thought I'd go ahead and kick this forum off with it's first thread. I've been following Writing Excuses pretty much since the day I found out about Brandon as an author. Since then I have learned a great deal about writing. Creative writing is what I would love to do as a living, particularly writing novels.

My question to you is, what is the best advice/most influential thing you have taken away from this podcast?

For me, I'd have to say it is the discussions they have on publishing. This is an aspect of writing I hadn't ever let myself think about until I started listening to the 'cast. The Writing Excuses team has done a wonderful job of outlining exactly what steps you need to take toward this goal and how to go about taking them.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man, what indeed? I've learned so much from this podcast that it literally has transformed my writing. Is it cheating to say all of it? Because... it's all of it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haha. No, I'll allow that. It is all really good. For me, publishing was just the aspect I never dwell on so hearing it really helped. However, I see a cast about Rewriting coming up and.... I really need to majorly rewrite my current project so we'll see what happens.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've learned a lot from the podcasts, but if I have to say the most helpful it would be BICHOK. That and to writing for fun reasons as goals.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it would be possible to list everything I have learned from Writing Excuses. It has definitely helped my writing tremendously, and it also provides insight on writing as a career which is always important.

Only downside is that creative writing classes in college (including more advanced ones) feel amateurish now- like I know more before the class than I will learn from it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it would be possible to list everything I have learned from Writing Excuses. It has definitely helped my writing tremendously, and it also provides insight on writing as a career which is always important.

Only downside is that creative writing classes in college (including more advanced ones) feel amateurish now- like I know more before the class than I will learn from it.

I agree with this completely. I listen to every episode with a notebook and so far I've filled about 70 pages. I am taking a Creative Writing class in college and sometimes when we are work shopping I just want to scream at them to go listen the podcast so we can stop being so repetitive.

Some of my favorite episodes include the first episode where Mary was a guest (the Puppetry one), the living with the artist podcast, and everything where they meet with editors and agents. I find that the ones where they try to apply what they talked about to their old work just don't work very well. The fifteen minute podcast format just isn't the best way to teach about line editing and such imo.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^^That's impressive. I'm not much of a note taker, so I basically absorb what I can, and if I want to brush up on something, I'll go and rewatch the relevant episode (only 15 minutes long...).

I feel the same way in class-I have to resist an urge to facepalm every few minutes, and I hardly talk because I don't feel like stating the obvious. I actually recommended the podcast to one of my writing teachers (the best one I've had thus far), and he seemed interested, though I'm not sure how it would be worked into a class.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have listened from Seasons 1 Episode 1 to Seasons 3 Episode 5 within a weeks time. I think the most notable thing that I have learned so far has come from the last episode of Season 2. In that episode the point that was being steamrolled over my brain is to write. They reflect on everything that had been discussed in all of Season 2 and in light of someone they call Nameless who was having difficulty putting mind to page.

The best part of this was when Dan (if I remember correctly) asked of the listeners to realize something. He said to make the distinction between wanting to become a writer and wanting to complete the epic book. This opened my eyes and has me forgoing listening to Writing Excuses hour on end. I do have an epic story that I want to tell, but I want to tell it to the best of my ability. This means that I need to forgo creating and obsessing over this world to write in multitude of anything and everything. I need to dip my pen in the well and perfect my craft before making my masterpiece ready for the public. I need to write novels, novellas, short stories, and possibly even writing in different genres to understand what kind of writer I am and what style I am most comfortable with.

Thanks Brandon, Howard, and Dan.

(I haven't listened to much of Mary, but I am sure that I will be thanking you in the near future too!)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that one of the best things I've learned is that you don't have to have a classical fantasy setting for a fantasy book.

I created another world as my setting instead.

It is set on an earth-sized moon circling a huge planet in a solar system similar to ours. This gave me many ideas around religious expressions based on what happens in the sky and the extreme tidal effects of the seas.

One result was that when the earth-sized moon is between the huge planet and the sun. When that happens it looks like a huge eye is looking down on the people (the moon-shadow being the iris). That is just one cool thing that this brought out.

There have been several other pieces of advice that's been really helpful.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Because I'm a bit odd, I'd have to go with one of their early episodes. They were talking about world-builder's disease and Sanderson mentioned that he usually spends a month on prep. That single bit of information has been ridiculously useful to me. Why? Well, before that I had no perspective. Was I writing too much prep? Too little? Did I need prep? Questions haunted me, so I had a really hard time writing. Just knowing a professional answer, even though I didn't follow it, gave me enough perspective to set the questions aside and start writing.

That said,the other piece of information that I've found very useful is the general sentiment (it's been said said many times, many ways) that in order to be a writer, one has to be willing to suck.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could someone link me to the first episode? I can't find it. I would greatly apreciate it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, the most helpful thing to me is just listening to them talk. Even the random ridiculous episodes or the After Dark ones (actually,especially those), because it makes me realize that these amazing artists aren't things to put up on a pedestal, they are living, breathing people, with lives and friends and connections.

And it isn't even just hearing the mistakes in their early work, it is being able to hear them interact like... Like normal people.

And Tulir, here ya go!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, lyssie.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Hi! I'm new here.)

I've built a habit of listening with a Word doc open, and I'll note anything that lands somewhere between "ooh, I have to remember that!" and *lightning strikes*. Since I just this week started up on Evernote, I'm importing them into there for magical Web 3.0 accessibility.

I'd have to agree with most everyone above, though; it's the bits of wisdom across episodes, and getting to know Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mary that combine to make this the most useful podcast I've found.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Hi! I'm new here.)

I've built a habit of listening with a Word doc open, and I'll note anything that lands somewhere between "ooh, I have to remember that!" and *lightning strikes*. Since I just this week started up on Evernote, I'm importing them into there for magical Web 3.0 accessibility.

I'd have to agree with most everyone above, though; it's the bits of wisdom across episodes, and getting to know Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mary that combine to make this the most useful podcast I've found.

Welcome! I upvoted you for your username. Which do you prefer, serif or sans serif?

And to keep on topic, the concept that ideas are cheap, and everything they have ever said about discovery writing.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too hard to find the most helpful, but I can think of the least helpful right off the bat.

"Treat writing like a job."

I've heard this before, usually by bestselling authors who write 2-3 mediocre books a year. In this case, I think it was Kevin J. Anderson. I tried doing it that way, and it cost me about 10 years because... I have a job. I'm not going to go to work, then look forward to going home so I can... Go to work? Then it feels like, obviously, work.

From this, I came up with my own advice, though: "Treat writing like something you love to do."

If I'm not writing, then I must not love writing as much as I want to believe. But if I really love to write then... of course I'm not going to have trouble writing every day. Right? :)

Okay, I also just thought of the most helpful piece of advice. Kill your babies. I worked on one story for almost a decade. In February, I scratched everything and started over, and I now have more written in my new novel than I ever had for that one I worked on for 10 years.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, sorry Jack, I accidentally downvoted you. I... don't think there is a way to undo that.

Second, though, I think you might misunderstand what treating writing like work means. As top-tier writers, like Sanderson or Anderson (apparently, having patronym for a surname is fortuitous), use it, it seems to just mean that you consistently practice in order to have a writing career. They aren't talking about how to have a secretive love affair with writing.

To help illustrate the point, consider the difference between exercising because you enjoy exercising, and exercising to run a marathon. You can't just run whenever the fancy takes you for as long as the fancy takes you and still expect to be able to do well in a marathon. Likewise with a writing career.

Considering that Sanderson was just spending all day at ComicCon then going back to his hotel room to write for 5 hours, I think we can safely assume that he loves writing. However, he said himself on writing excuses that he hates the 50-75% portion of a book and, unless he treated writing like work, he wouldn't do that. He loves writing when he is doing it, even when he is writing those loathed sections, by the end, he is having a blast.

Your philosophy just seems like an excuse to give up on writing. Everyone has those days when they don't want to write, when they think they're crap, etc. Neil Giggidy Gaiman has them! Either the great authors of our age don't truly love writing, or having an off day is not indicative of a person’s love of writing. It is no reason to give up, and certainly no reason to not write that day.

You said "treating writing like a job" cost you 10 years. I am dubious of that assertion. If you were writing even for just an hour a day for 10 years, that should mean you wrote between 1,780,000 and 890,000 words, or in other word, 18-9 books of average length. I find it hard to believe that such productivity was a waste.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too hard to find the most helpful, but I can think of the least helpful right off the bat.

"Treat writing like a job."

I've heard this before, usually by bestselling authors who write 2-3 mediocre books a year. In this case, I think it was Kevin J. Anderson. I tried doing it that way, and it cost me about 10 years because... I have a job. I'm not going to go to work, then look forward to going home so I can... Go to work? Then it feels like, obviously, work.

From this, I came up with my own advice, though: "Treat writing like something you love to do."

If I'm not writing, then I must not love writing as much as I want to believe. But if I really love to write then... of course I'm not going to have trouble writing every day. Right? :)

Okay, I also just thought of the most helpful piece of advice. Kill your babies. I worked on one story for almost a decade. In February, I scratched everything and started over, and I now have more written in my new novel than I ever had for that one I worked on for 10 years.

Thought is right. You have to treat writing like a job. What you don't do is treat it like an onus( I typed this word into the sentence, looked at it and wondered what the hell the it meant. But I got it right. Odd.). I look at writing as a profession. It takes skill and time to get good at. Admittedly I haven't worked a job I dislike in years. Last week I went over hours by a ton(Like 10 hours over) at my day job. I didn't notice. My boss asked if I felt like I worked too much. My answer was, "I worked that much. Oops." I also did some great writing last week, writing I did because I have a quota to fill. I need to manage my page a day, or my 600 words a day, or whatever I've set. It's not 40 hours a week, but I feel bad if I don't do it. I feel like I'm giving up or that I'll lose what I've gained. That's what treating writing like a job is. Making it an obligation, part of your life.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The most important thing I have learned is that it is an obtainable goal if you work hard enough.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the most important thing I've learned is that you don't have to write your story in order. I know that sounds silly, but I always assumed that everything but edits were written in order. I've had a much easier time since.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've learned a lot from the podcasts, but if I have to say the most helpful it would be BICHOK. That and to writing for fun reasons as goals.

I second the former point. The BICHOK podcast really changed my outlook on writing. I always sat down to write when that moment of inspiration would strike, and if I wasn't "feeling it" I wouldn't write.

This, episode, well, took away that excuse, so I had to do as I was told and go write!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone new to this forum, this seemed a good place to start.

 

For me, the most useful thing I've learned has been seven point story structure. It's really helped me to think about structure beyond the obvious beginning, middle, end, and my plots have got better for it.

 

Mindie's point about writing being an obtainable goal comes a close second.

 

That said, I find something useful pretty much every episode, so 'most useful' really just means 'what I'm using right now'.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's so much that's great, but I can easily point out the single moment that helped me the most.

 

During one of the early 'casts, there's mention of [World builder's disease] and [the eternal re-writer]. I had always felt my revising/re-writing was making progress, but getting called out for it on the podcast helped me finally say "good enough for now" and move on.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with pretty much all the points above (especially BICHOK) but I think, for me, the most helpful thing that I learnt where all the things I already knew. Even if I didn't know that I knew them. Listening to a show where something that they're saying seems really obvious to me is the biggest confidence boost. It's like WOW I'm not completely awful at this writing thing after all.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just started listening and am getting caught up (on season 2 right now).

 

So far I've found WE's advice on approaching agents and editors quite enlightening; especially the importance of networking at cons.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.