The Writer's Connection, SM
a publication of The Virtual Writing Coach SM
In This Issue:
2. Publisher's Note
3. The Writer's Life
4. Getting into Action
The Writer's Connection explores the creative process of writing and the interplay between thoughts, feelings, and actions. We are an interactive community of authors and readers who share ideas to enhance our knowledge, skills, and experiences in writing fiction in any genre, but our emphasis remains mystery and suspense thrillers.
Published monthly, the Newsletter offers writing tips for authors, coaching suggestions, editing, and marketing information.
Topics are presented from the perspective of Keith Barton and represent only his ideas on producing your first manuscript, and are provided to the general public. Because we are an interactive community of writers, other viewpoints are welcomed and may be printed in future monthly newsletters with permission from Keith Barton.
2. Publisher's Note
Dear Writer's Connection Subscriber,
This month features information about the writer's life.
3. The Writer's Life
The Writer’s Life is one of polar opposites—love and hate, impulse and restraint, creativity and drudgery, rapid fire insights and writer’s block. I didn’t ask for this life but now that it has its hold on me, I can’t let go. It’s like a shark forever circling me in this sea of life—its fin constantly reminding me of deadlines, blank screens, stories to tell, and another flight into my world of fantasy. It’s easy NOT to write. To make writing a priority you have to give up something else. So what will it be? Exercise? Food? Golf? TV? Steven Covey says that habits are born every day but it takes seven days to make them stick. Maybe that’s why it took God seven days to make this world we live in.
To quote Paul Raymond Martin (Inspiration and Motivation, Writer’s Digest, 2005) “writing is more than an occupation, more than a profession. Writing is an identity. Calling yourself a writer does not make you one. You must WRITE. And that’s the hard part—what to write about? So many of us get caught up in craft and technique, outlines, pacing, plots, rhyme schemes, character development. We spend hours reading our favorite authors, going to writing seminars, attending award’s ceremonies for those few of us who “really make it” as writers so we can quit our day jobs. But writing must define who you are as a person. You write because you HAVE to. It’s like an addiction—you can’t remove the needle from your arm because you’ll relapse and become bland and tasteless. Yes, once you’ve created Frankenstein’s Monster within you, writing will become an obsession, an aphrodisiac, your life preserver.
To begin writing you must tell a story. Don’t worry about the grammar, flow, correct wording. Just start typing. Let your mind carry you to past, dark places, open wounds, celebrated successes, failures, discovery, and challenges. I once worked for a boss who said “don’t be afraid to ask the question, if you’re not afraid to hear he answer.” Writing takes on a similar formula—don’t be afraid to write if you’re not afraid to see the result. Don’t worry about writing for an audience. Writing for me started out as my therapy. After the reality of seeing patients everyday, the last thing I wanted to write about was psychology. Thus, it’s no surprise that I’ve written only one psychological thriller. I want a respite from my reality and that’s why I choose to write action thrillers. I can create characters, kill them off, make them fall in love, do terrible things to one another. Or I can publish a series of couplets describing love’s delights and hurts. Or I can write monthly newsletters that inform and entertain.
Some have said that a good fiction writer is a good liar. Think about this. Fiction is nothing more than exaggerated truth. Take a mundane subject like riding the metro everyday to work and it becomes a runaway bus on a collision course because some crazed weirdo wants to take everyone with him to his grave (this actually became a movie with Sandra Bullock). You also have to be a storyteller. I grew up listening to my grandfather on his front porch on Summer Avenue in Waco, Texas (maybe that’s why I like action thrillers) telling me stories about his PI and night security work. I would make nightly rounds with him and his snubbed-nose .38 special. Or I would accompany my grandmother to the Veteran’s Psychiatric Hospital in Waco and listen to her stories about the doctors and their patients. All heady stuff for an eight-year old with an imagination for the impossible. Or I would later recount my father’s naval travels as backdrops for my stories involving water and the beautiful scenery of Bermuda and Hawaii. Readers want to be transported to exciting places with interesting characters and twisted plots that keep them guessing; or they want to relive history from the vantage point of a civil war love story; or they want to escape into another solar system and explore the worlds of tomorrow.
So for every reader there must be a writer and here’s the kicker—that writer is YOU. The simple truth is that if you like to read, you will enjoy writing MORE. Be a sponge and soak up life’s experiences; practice storytelling; take the magic carpet ride. To quote Martin again, “writing is a great way of life and a lousy way to make a living.” But who cares? Keep the day job but enjoy the night.
1. Keep a journal for seven days. Write a 500-word article on your material.
2. Now write the same article as historical fiction.
3. Now write the same article as a futuristic piece.
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Keith Barton, Ph.D.
(c) Copyright 2010 A. Keith Barton, Ph.D.
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The Writer's Connection SM Mission:
The Writer's Connection SM is dedicated to helping first-time authors create their first manuscript for publication and to offer an exchange of ideas and opinions from our readers who might be interested in becoming authors.
The Writer's Connection™ is a publication of The Virtual Writing Coach and Keith Barton, Ph.D. and a registered trademark.
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About Keith Barton, Ph.D.
Dr. Barton received his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Texas at Austin and has been a practicing therapist for over thirty years. He is currently enrolled in MentorCoach and is accepting new clients. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina, consultant to Fortune 500 companies in executive development, founded and managed Texas Community Living Ventures, Inc., in 1986 for providing group home services to persons with mental retardation, and has been running a clinical practice in Northwest Houston since 1990. He writes part-time with the goal of completing one novel a year. His desire to coach others derives from his passionate interest in helping others become attuned to their creative powers of storytelling.
Dr. Barton has training in coaching, cognitive and family therapy and health psychology. He has published articles, made presentations and conducted workshops about:
Anxiety and achievement
The relationship between psychology and spirituality
Copyright by Virtual Writing Coach and Keith Barton, 2001-2010.