Peggy Bechko: Love Your Brain

Brain-stimulationby Peggy Bechko

We love our brains, we writers do. Really. I mean look, you toss stuff in (experience, memories, tragedy, love, human stupidity…) and stuff comes out in the form of stories, scripts, novels, even writing for commercial use such as advertising. Waaaay too cool, right?

It is.

But it doesn’t just all ‘happen’. At least that’s the case for most writers. Usually there’s some work buried in there along with the fun and games. You know, research, outlining, editing, rethinking. Writing, rewriting.

So to get from input to output writers need to actually ‘do’ things. Like create our own inspiration. Think about what inspires you as a writer and surround yourself with that which stimulates you and your imagination. Discipline (oooo, that dirty word), persistence and wild creativity insure you won’t fall prey to writer’s block (whatever that is or is not in your experience).

A good writer can’t slack off on the hard stuff I mentioned earlier, you know the research, outlining, editing, etc. It may seem like a lot of extra work, but it pays off big dividends in the end. Do the work, reap the rewards.

How many times have writers heard follow your heart, not the market? Well, I say follow both. Write what moves you, but if an idea sparks that runs parallel to what the market is currently producing, go for it. Sometimes you need to turn inward to yourself for advice, not outward. Write what feels right to you, whatever that is. That is, outside of what you might have to write to pay the rent. It’s a fine tightrope we sometimes walk.

Oh, and did I mention you need to develop a thick skin? If you, as a writer, don’t want to feel picked on, depressed and frustrated most of the time that thick skin is an absolute necessity. Criticism, wherever it comes from, can seem like a personal attack (and frankly there are those rare times when it IS), but that later rare time aside, criticism, especially when it comes from trusted sources like agents, writing partners, editors, etc. is part of the process.

Criticism, when it’s constructive, is something you can learn from and use to make your script, novel, whatever, better. Review criticism carefully and do just that. Use what you can and pass by what doesn’t ring true for you. And don’t take any of it personally, even the one that is most distinctly personal. Not worth your expended energy to worry about it when you have your next story coming up.

So take it all in, absorb like a sponge all of those life’s experiences; marinate it for a while and see what comes out. Writing, like life, is quite an adventure.