Just ordered “On Writing”… Stephen King’s book on, well, writing.

Pretty excited to get this one in the mail. After seeing this list of all of Stephen King’s books, ranked in order of quality (or awesomeness, if you are my bro-in-law), I just had to place an order.

I like books on writing, especially by highly successful writers. I enjoy reading their perspective of how they harness their creativity, how they push through the dog days of writer’s block, and why they love writing.

The world is filled with writers who just write  to get published and make bazillians of dollars-but there are some out there who are true artists, continually refining their craft– and no matter what their profession, a true artist is inspiring to watch.

I remember when my friends took me to Ruth’s Chris to celebrate an achievement. Our waiter was flat-out amazing. Hands down, the best waiter I’ve ever seen, and to date, the only waiter who mesmerized me. I was captivated, holding onto every word as if it was Bryan Cranston delivering his “intervention” monologue (another artist) . This waiter was an artist who loved his job and every item on the menu… and his descriptions were mouthwatering. I was inspired.  Another inspiring artist you should be familiar with is a film-only photographer,  Jonathan Canlas. His photography inspires me. Follow his blog. Today. If you can, fly him out to wherever you are for a photo shoot. You won’t be disappointed.

I consider Stephen King an artist–though I haven’t enjoyed (or read) all of his books.. but he seems to get better with time, and I can respect that. I’m excited to read this book to see how he has refined his craft, and how he has developed as a writer.

What artists inspire you?

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My on again, off again relationship with writing

“And I flew over the handlebars like superman”.

I was in the second grade, and the student teacher was reading my story I had written as an assignment.  She drew special attention to this line of my story, telling us about a “simile”, and how I had used a very advanced form of writing.

The story was basically this: I had gone to stay at my cousins house with my brother for a few days during the summer. During that trip, my cousin Justin showed off his motorcycles–and we raced around in circles… Well, about 15 laps into riding backseat to my older brother, I begged and pleaded to be able to take the handlebars myself. Instead of letting it slowly idle, as instructed, I revved it up, and headed straight for the rough, splintery wooden fence. Last I remember, I turned to see Mike and Justin yelling “TURN!!! TURN!!!” and waving with both arms, frantically, with the universal sign for turning. I didn’t turn the bike–but I turned my head away from them, to stare that greyish brown fence down as I flew over the handlebars like superman.

A few slivers removed from my chin and hands, followed by a heavy dousing of hydrogen peroxide, and I was as good as new–well, except for the wounded pride. See, younger brothers HATE being a burden to cool, older brothers and cousins…and I had officially changed from the younger brother who wasn’t too bad of a tag-along, to the younger brother who ruined a perfectly good motorcycle adventure. But then again, that’s what younger brothers are for, right?

Suffice it to say, I have had zero desire to own a motorcycle since, and even had a bit of a phobia of driving one for quite some time.

But more importantly, because of the attention given in that 2nd grade class, a shy, slightly chubby little blond kid felt “like superman” for an instant, and in that one little instance, developed a love for writing. For the first time I was publicly recognized at being good at something. So that little story turned into more short stories through the years, as I pushed limits in various directions. Junior high and High School’s writing  was all about westerns and action stories, as my friend and I tried to out-do each other in our description of violent gun-fights, and barroom brawls. College I turned more introspective, mostly journaling my feelings and frustrations about dating, grades, etc. After college, I’ve tried various genres and types of writing–but mostly just writing to write.

What I find most soothing and therapeutic is just taking a spiral bound notebook, and putting pen to paper, without stopping for 10-20 minutes. I had a creative writing teacher in college that taught us to “tap into the jugular” with this form of journalling. She said if you don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, or anything else–and just write whatever comes to mind, eventually you will tap into the deep wells of creativity within you, and you’ll be amazed at how many good ideas come up. I’ve literally started such writing exercising writing “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, so I guess I’ll think of something….” then off it goes…. Next thing I know, I’m piecing through something deep within me, something troubling me, possibly an insecurity or an important decision.  I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best ways to understand how to work through various situations in life, it feels quite freeing, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy.

The thing is, as great as writing is, and as much as I feel this constant pull towards writing for pretty much my entire life–I frequently get off track, and start stories or novels I never finish. I have stacks of spiral bound notebooks that are anywhere from 1/4 to 3/4 full, representing different times where I would start over–recommitting to writing each day, first thing in the morning. I’ll go for a while, then stop for a bit. This is what frustrates me. I feel like I could write a novel, maybe even sell a few copies at whatever mega-bookstore is still in business, but for some reason I peter out. It’s almost like going to the gym for me, where I never feel BAD after going to the gym… I never regret it, but I get out of the habit. And why? I mean, think about that. When’s the last time you regretted exercising? Never, right? But how much reluctance do you feel about exercising, especially when you are “getting back in shape”?

Well, that’s how writing is for me. I’ll go strong for a few months, writing something every day. Then just like that, get into some TV show, or get lost in a book in my spare time. As recent as 3 months ago, some friends and I formed a writers group where we could give each other feedback, as we are all apsiring novelists. I showed up to the first meeting with a full outline of my novel, excited to discuss. I got fantastic feedback, but after that, my excitement died down, and my storyline felt more like a new friend who at first was fun to hang out with, but became dull and not as fun to hang around. (or perhaps a younger brother who wrecked my cousin’s motorcycle?)

The other members have gone on to finish their novels, or come really close. I dropped off the deepend–not writing anything, before finally launching this blog–with the intent of writing something ALMOST every day. You can see by the publishing dates how that has gone…

But to sum it all up, I know I’m not the world’s greatest writer–but that’s not why I do it. Writing to me is a lot like running is for people. Very few runners of any marathon actually run it to try to win… but yet thousands run. Why? For many reasons. For the feeling of the run. For the feeling AFTER the run. For personal accomplishment, etc. But the point I’m making, is you don’t have to be a world class runner to be a marathoner any more than you have to be a best selling novelist to be a writer.

And what I’ve found, is writing is like that best friend you have known your whole life. If you go a few days without seeing them, or a few months, you pick up right where you left off. And they welcome you with open arms. Things might feel awkward as you try to remember what to say, but pretty soon you are right back into the warm rhythm of good conversation.

So if you enjoy writing, I encourage you to do it more often. It helps in a lot of ways, or at least, it does for me.

 

[Sales] [Writing] Do it anyway

I found some guy’s blog who had written a poem entitled “So you want to be a writer.” Here’s an excerpt:

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.

then later:

if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

What an absolute LOAD OF CRAP. If I were to write a poem about writing, it would go something like this:

Even if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
Do it anyway.
Even if it never comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
Do it anyway.
Even if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
do it anyway.
Even if you’re feeling completely unmotivated…and the only reason you can scratch up is that you’re doing it is for money or
fame,
do it anyway…

And on and on.

Every book about writing I’ve ever read has advice far more like my example than the absolute line of bull that other writer had come up with. No matter what you choose to do, you’re never going to be motivated all of the time. But do it anyway.

How does this apply to sales? It applies perfectly to sales. If ever you are unmotivated, do it anyway. If you ever have a temporary bout of “call reluctance”, do it anyway. If you ever feel like you’re only doing it for money, do it anyway. If you ever feel like your company doesn’t appreciate you, do it anyway. Sales, like anything that requires motivation and proactivity, is a rough water job. And requires the internal fortitude to ride out the temporary storms that come from occasional set backs.

And what happens from “doing it anyway?” Well, just like a muscle when challenged, your internal fortitude becomes stronger. And you become more greatly armed to stare down the wrath of the next set-back.

So no matter what reason you can think of NOT to make that next sales call, do it anyway.

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