I’m terrified of reading to an audience. At a podium, I completely lose sight of who I am and I can barely even pronounce my own name. This fear has gotten better over the years — experience really does help in this area. If I’m lucky, I can use this anxiety as a source of humor on stage (and if I’m not lucky, I have to be rolled off stage while still in the fetal position). But it still scares the crap out of me.
I started out this video with the intent of trying to get writers to stop using Microsoft Word and ended up paying tribute to an overly-sentimental romantic comedy from the 80s. It’s a new level of failure.
Even though I’m passionate about the writing tools that I use, I also worry about spending too much time thinking about the tools rather than thinking about the product. I’d rather have a clunky tool and solid writing practice than a brilliant tool and little to show with it.
So here it is. My quasi-passionate (and ultimately failed) rant against Microsoft Word:
My next presentation will go live this Saturday. Without saying too much about the content, the presentation will incorporate my survey results when asking folks on Twitter, Facebook, and Email which writing program they use. Thank you to those who participated in the survey so that I could turn you into a meaningless piece of a pie chart.
And here’s a little bit of book news…
This week, my friend Kate Maruyama coached me through yet another writing life crisis. So permit me to spill the borcht.
Now that my book is close to publication, now that I have a galley copy in my hand, now that I can see this beautiful thing right in front of me, I’m horrified. Because: what if my book is actually no good?
In this episode of my writing crisis, we walk through my take on networking as a terrified coward. But it gets more complicated because I’ve mistakenly succeeded in a few areas, while failing at others. More than other Failed Writer videos, this is an area of the writing life I’m still pretty undecided about — even more of a work-in-progress than other areas. But it’s something I’ve had to confront as my book approaches the publication date.
So here goes, Failed Writer Crisis #12:
- A MacBook Air
- An iPad
- An iPhone
I don’t know what people officially classify these things but I call them computers. And I do heavy-duty writing (or writing-related) tasks on all three of these computers. But I do slightly different things with each one. So I stupidly end up carrying all three around with me most of the time. Bad on my back (and bad for the way people mock me), but good for my writing.
I intended this video to be about the way I once organized my whole submission plan for magazines. I had this fancy pants spreadsheet characterizing my every step. But a few minutes into making this video, I realized how much I have changed over the years. Now there’s a wife. There are kids. I don’t have time to fetishize the process. But it’s more than that. I also see how we writers are so compelled to obsess over the accolades we think we deserve before fully maturing our writing chops. And so this video turned into a talk about the need to write. To write a lot.
Without doing a lick of research (or even bothering to read his book), I swiped Malcolm Gladwell’s notion that it takes 10,000 hours to master a particular craft. (Don’t quote me on this!) I just love the idea of that number because it is a damn big number. And I think it is roughly true. It takes a long time for most of us mortals to get good at writing.
And so here is my not-entirely-educated take on it:
There’s an aspect of the publishing process that I’ve been obsessed with and it has to do with the editing work I did with my editor/publisher. I’m not talking about the copyediting (which was also interesting) but the type of editing where serious reshaping of the book can happen. Let me elaborate…
I’m a coward. When faced with a big project – something time consuming, something that will require sacrifices to be made – my instinct is to run away. Fast. No looking back. For that reason, it took me a long time to come around to the point where I (somewhat) enjoy the challenge of a big project. I’m talking about something like writing a novel or being in a long-term relationship. These are things that require work. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.
The funny thing is that a key method I use to confront these big projects is so simple, so low-tech (so cheap in therapy costs!) that it almost seems like it’s cheating. And here it is: