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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guest Post by Ian Isaro

More guest posts from my friends from AQC.  Today is Ian Isaro.  In a few days Joyce Alton will be here with her guest post.  I've enjoyed EF Jace's thoughts, so now it is time for Ian.

  I met Ian Isaro in the speculative fiction forum over at AQC connect.  He always has some great insights that he shares with all of us. 

Here is Ian, with his advice for staying motivated with your writing. 


It's easy to get bogged down in self-criticism. There are a thousand things to do wrong when writing a story and every reader has a different opinion about what quality means. Yet you can't ignore them, because criticism is how you improve your writing.

So the trick is staying motivated and also self-critical: developing a thick skin instead of ignoring any criticism. I can't say I've mastered it, but I have some suggestions that might help.

- Find a good balance of writing and editing. One of the best antidotes to editorial cynicism is to enjoy yourself in the raw creative process.

- Accept that success has more to do with difficult-to-pinpoint "x factors" than any standard of technical proficiency. Pick a popular series you don't like and relax.

- Step back and get some perspective. A lot of "unbreakable laws" of writing only came into being in the last 50 years. Think about how many rules Shakespeare and Dickens ignore. Realize how different speculative fiction looked with it was written by Tolkien and Wells.

- Receive a mix of critiques. Find people who tear apart your story on a structural or sentence level, but also those capable of evaluating what works well. For authors, strengths are often more important than weaknesses, so it's important to be aware of them.

- Read. Read for pleasure even if you can't turn off your inner editor. It will strengthen your ear for prose and keep you outside the world of editing conventional wisdom.

Never stop trying to improve. But in the end, remember that every book an author revised and polished, that went through several editors to be professionally published, has then had people drop it saying, "Couldn't get into it because the writing was bad." You can't master a subjective craft until you have your own standard to strive toward.

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Great advice Ian.  Thank you for taking the time to do a guest post.  You can check out Ian's blog and Ian's Smashwords profile.  Pop over and see what he is up to.

1 comment:

Joyce Alton said...

So true. Love this post, Ian.