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Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo (Novel and Creative Writing Book, National Novel Writing Month NaNoWriMo Guide) Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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From the Publisher
Each year, I talk to hundreds of people who have perfected a peculiar and disturbing art: the art of telling themselves why they can’t jump in and write the novel of their dreams.
“I’ve never taken any classes. I don’t have an MFA.”
“I have a lot of ideas for stories, but I’m not a real writer.”
Or, worst of all, they say, “I’m not a creative type.”
I call this the other syndrome—as in "other people do this, but not me.” We’ve all been there, right? We open up the pages of a magazine, and we read a profile of a magnificently cloaked and coiffed artistic being—a twirling scarf, moody eyes, locks of hair falling over a pensive brow. We read the witticisms and wisdom the celebrated artistic being dispenses while drinking a bottle of wine with a reporter one afternoon in a charming hamlet in Italy. The artistic being tells of creative challenges and victories achieved, and then drops in an anecdote or two about a conversation with a famous author, a good friend. There’s a joke about a movie deal that fell through, and then an aside about the one that won an Oscar. There’s talk about a recently published book, which called to them and gave them artistic fulfillment like no other book ever has.
And, as we sit in our house that is so very far from Italy, and we look across the kitchen, over the dishes on the counter, to the cheap bottle of wine from Safeway, and the phone rings with a call from a telemarketer, just as a bill slides off the stack of bills, we tell ourselves, “Other people are writers. Other people get the good fortune to have been born with a twirling scarf around their neck. Other people get to traipse through Italy to find a fantastic novel calling them. Other people get to be who they want to be—whether it’s through family connections, blessed luck, or natural talent. But that’s not me. That’s other people."
And you know what, we’re right. The life of an artist is for others—because we just said so, and in saying so, we make it true.
But here’s the rub. Even after negating our creative potential, we’re bound to wake up the next day to a tickle of an idea dancing in a far corner of our mind, a memory that is trying to push a door open, a strange other world that is calling us. We wash those dishes, we pay that stack of bills, we drink that cheap bottle of wine, but we know there’s something else—we know there’s something more.
And there is something more. There’s the creative life. You don’t need a certificate for it; you don’t need to apply to do it; you don’t even need to ask permission to do it. You just have to claim it. You might not wear scarves in Italy, but you can make your own version of the artistic life, no matter where you live or what demands of life you face.
It’s not always easy, of course. There will be naysayers, those people who think it’s silly or trivial to be a “creative type,” those who think it’s audacious and pretentious for you to write a novel, those who think you can’t do it because you lack the qualifications. You’ve decided to escape the mire of your creative slough, and sometimes that threatens others. But you’re not embracing your creativity because it’s an easy path. You’re doing it because you have something to say. And no one gets to tell you that what you have to say doesn’t matter, because it matters to you.
The arts don’t belong to a chosen few. Quite the opposite: every one of us is chosen to be a creator by virtue of being human. If you’re not convinced of this, just step into any preschool and observe the unbridled creative energy of kids as they immerse themselves in finger painting, telling wild stories, banging on drums, and dancing just for the sake of dancing. They’re creative types because they breathe.
And you’re a writer because you write. There’s no other definition. Don’t fall into the common trap of hesitating to call yourself a writer if you haven’t published a book. It can easily happen. Agatha Christie said that even after she’d written ten books, she didn’t really consider herself a “bona fide author.” You earn your bona fides each time you pick up a pen and write your story. So start by telling yourself you’re a writer. Then tell the world. Don’t mumble it, be proud of it, because to be a writer takes moxie and verve.
Your task as a human being and as an artist is to find that
maker within, to decide that you’re not 'other,' you’re a creator. Honor the impetus that bids you to write—revere it, bow to it, hug it, bathe in it, nurture it. That impetus is what makes life meaningful. It’s what makes you, you.
Try this: Take the Pledge
- First, tell yourself, 'I am a creator.'
- Then tell someone else. Tell them you write.
- Tell them why writing is important to you. You don’t have to tell them your story. Just be proud to call yourself a writer. Practice asserting it.
-Taking Cover podcast
"Looking for encouragement and tips to get started writing? 'Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo' by Grant Faulkner, is sure to motivate you."
-Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
"If you feel like you need a bit of direction or encouragement, Faulkner has gathered wisdom from gifted writers who overcame obstacles in order to get their writing out into the world."
"I love this book, and I've been reading the entries one at a time, one every few days, since early November. Grant is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, and as a writer and author, he shares his own inspirations and challenges. Pick this up for the pep talks you're gonna need this year."
- Huffington Post
About the Author
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Faulkner pairs beautifully written paragraphs about his writing experiences -- "It's as if I'm lost in a foreign city, and I'm trying to find my way home, but I can only follow hunches, scents in the air, touches of memory." -- with practical, actionable advice: "So find your way, embrace your way, but don't become too rigid. Experimenting with your process is a way to open yourself up to new possibilities."
I plan on reading one of his 52 "pep talks" every day before I start writing for the next 52 days, and I look forward to his encouraging words cheering me on.
If you write, then you should pick this up to get inspired to keep writing even when resistance comes knocking.