The Write Vision: How to Develop Your Creativity and Productivity as a Writer
Introduction and a Bit About Me
We all want to write, right? At least lots of us think we do. We have happy fantasies of becoming a bestselling, or at least self-supporting, novelist, or an award-winning poet, or a popular blogger. Then we try to turn those dreams into reality. Many of us struggle to take even that first step, producing a completed manuscript. Then you have to do something with it, which can be even more intimidating. But fear not! Lots of people manage to write and publish their projects, and you absolutely can too. You have to want to badly enough, but you also have to be smart about it and find ways to turn your inner vision into outer reality. Only you can supply the desire and the creative spark you need, but the rest is something you can pick up along the way.
So why read this blog and not some other? The short answer is: read both! Many people (including me) find reading about writing to be a helpful method to jumpstart a stalled creative process. Everyone has different tips and tricks, so if you’re stuck or confused or just want an inspiration boost, reading other people’s ideas can give you fresh insights and things to try. This particular blog, however, will go a little more in-depth into certain aspects of the act of creation and production. As well as a writer, I’m an academic who’s studied the lives and works of other writers extensively. So I’ll be sharing things I’ve learned from my own experience, but also what other writers have done, and tying it in to concepts from fields like psychology and meditation. This will help you tap into a deeper level of creativity and give you a broad selection of concepts and techniques to work with.
In these posts I’m going to lay out some practical tips for going from absolutely nothing to a finished book. This is aimed at anyone who wants to write a book, thesis/dissertation, or other large project, for whatever market. I’m particularly thinking of those of you who are struggling to get started or to finish your first project, but more seasoned writers may also find some of the things here helpful. I’ll start with finding your inspiration and generating ideas, move on to the writing process, both how to start it and how to finish it, and how to work around writer’s block. I’ll also give tips and suggestions on editing, proofreading, and formatting that will specifically be aimed at those interested in indie/self-publishing, but can be useful for any author.
And now a bit more about me: I graduated summa cum laude from UNC-Charlotte with a BA in International Studies and then went on to earn an MA in Russian Translation from Columbia University and a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from UNC-Chapel Hill. After working several temporary university positions, I am currently Assistant Professor of Russian at Wake Forest University. I have also written numerous short stories and several novels, most in the epic fantasy genre. I had a fair amount of luck placing my short stories in e-zines and anthologies, and even getting awards for them, but for the past few years have focused most of my fiction writing efforts on novels for my epic fantasy series The Zemnian Series. I decided to go the indie publishing route because creative control was paramount for me, as was getting my stories into the hands of my readers. I haven’t topped all the bestseller lists and made a bazillion bucks off my fiction (yet!), but I have received awards for both The Midnight Land and The Breathing Sea, the first parts of my series, and accomplished my goal of getting my books into the hands of lots of readers. I’m also an active book blogger and currently ranked in the top 5000 reviewers on Amazon.com.
So what does that mean? It means that over the past 20 years I have generated a crap-ton, and I mean a crap-ton, of text. A considerable portion of that text has gone on to go out into the world in some form, and helped me accomplish my professional and creative goals. Specifically, I have:
- Completed and defended an MA thesis and a PhD dissertation at R1 institutions.
- Completed and placed academic papers, articles, and essays in conferences, invited publications, and peer-reviewed journals.
- Produced academic cover letters, CVs, research and teaching statements, and all the other components of your average 10-100 page academic job application, that were effective in getting me interviews and job offers in the highly competitive academic job market.
- Completed a book-length academic monograph and the book proposals to go with it; the proposal has successful gained the interest of an academic press.
- Mentored numerous colleagues and students through the thesis/dissertation process, as well as helped them with their job materials.
- Completed and published full-length works of fiction that have gone on to win awards.
- Written hundreds of well-received book reviews.
In short, I have a lot of experience producing large quantities of text, often under high-pressure or highly competitive conditions, that has received the recognition and approbation of my peers and put me in a profession that largely involves reading and writing and teaching others how to read and write. I have also helped others do the same.
Looking at that list above makes me feel like I’m bragging. But the point is not that I’m special, but that you can do all this too. I’m not special, or at least, no more than anyone else. Everyone who can read and write can become a competent and productive writer. While I think it’s true that some people have more talent than others, the most important thing is hard work. All the talent in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t develop it. And if you write regularly, I can 100% guarantee that you will get better and faster than you are now.
If you’re not writing, you’re not developing your creativity, your craft, and your dreams. If you are writing, you are doing all those things. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
When in doubt, write!