Today’s Friday Guest Post is by Carol, who writes as C.L. Roth. C. L. Roth’s first novel will be available on Kindle in January of 2012. Check out her blog.
C. L. Roth was born in Kingman, Kansas and grew up in Lyons, Kansas. Even though she grew up in central Kansas, her heart lies in the Flint Hills of Eastern Kansas. The beauty of the hill country never leaves her. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, full-time caregiver, artist, and writer. She has a deep love of nature, in particular dogs and horses.
A Matter of Balance
I am blessed with a creative mind. But is a creative mind the component needed to become an effective writer?
I have no idea if creativity is a result of nature; one is simply born with it. Or if it’s a result of nurture; the impact of how you are raised. It’s most likely a bit of both.
In some of my early childhood memories, my make-believe world is stronger than real events. So writing comes easy to me. Characters romp through my head with ease. Stories pop up on a regular basis. I have notebooks stuck in various boxes and shelves that hold snippets of stories and ideas. So I would have to say that creativity is necessary to write.
But is it enough? When I look at the years I’ve spent writing vs. the years I’ve been published, then I have to say, no.
As my drive to be a writer grew, my frustration level also grew. I could come up with story ideas at the drop of a hat. My characters were as real to me as breathing. Why couldn’t I get these products to market?
Because, it’s not enough to be creative.
My life had given me right brain activity in abundance. I was heavy on ideas, and weak in follow through. Luckily, left brain activity, the analytical, logical part of the brain, can be learned. The craft of writing, the actual nuts and bolts of writing, can be taught.
First I analyzed my writing life; both the strengths and weaknesses. I concentrated on my weakness because recognition of a problem is step one. You can’t fix what you can’t see.
Step two is coming up with a plan of action.
In my case, finishing projects is a huge problem. The snippets of stories started vs. stories finished, is truly embarrassing. I needed strategies to finish my projects. A few of these strategies are using scene cards to establish the arc of the story. Making sure I know the genre I’m writing in, the audience I’m writing for, and how long the book needs to be.
Finishing work isn’t enough. To be published, you have to send those babies out into the world. Learning how to do market research is a critical component.
Writing those query letters, and actually mailing them, is necessary. I don’t give this part of the process very much thought. I simply do the job to the best of my ability and mail the queries.
I’m a poor planner. It was important to me to learn how to structure my days in order to increase my productivity. I use dry erase boards for this. They come in different sizes. I can prop them up so I can easily see them or actually hang them on the wall.
I have trouble maintaining focus, so the strategy I use there is breaking my goals down into long range, medium range, and short term goals. I write those goals in the appropriate spaces on the boards. They are visual reminders of what I need to do and why. No detail is too small.
Creativity will give you the ideas but it’s the left brain, analytical mind that will give you the product. You need both to be an effective, productive writer. Balance is the key. Too much creativity and you end up with notebooks littering your closets and shelves. Too much the other way and you’ll have a product nobody wants to read.
Marketing is tough. My creative brain threw a hissy fit when it found out it had to market. But the left brain, the analytical side convinced the flighty, creative side that marketing is a strategy game and that’s all it took. Dangling a game in front of the muse is much like shining a laser light in front of a kitten. Bait taken. The creative brain is having a great deal of fun thinking up ways to market.
Balance. Strengthening weaknesses. Planning strategies. Playing mind games. All these things combine to create an effective writer. For me, the greatest of these is Balance.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and welcome your comments.