More writing wisdom you won’t actually find in my book

imageWith my new book coming out in little more than a month, it seemed like a good time for another sneak peak at a passage of writing wisdom that isn’t actually in it.

That’s right! If you like what you read here, there’s more where that came from!

Just not in my book.

You may be asking, “Why is he even doing this?”

I know my publisher is.

My hope is that you’ll read what I didn’t include in my book and think to yourself, “Man! If this is the kind of stuff he left out, imagine how much he must be kicking himself for the @#%& he left in!”

Or something like that.

Anyway, as I wait for the final edit to arrive, here’s an excerpt I didn’t include for one reason (beer) or another (vodka)  — but which I wanted to share with you because, as writers, we all need a little encouragement sometimes… 

How to avoid becoming a writing zombie

As a columnist, I’m often asked what it takes to survive. While this is often a rhetorical question posed by my editor, usually in conjunction with a “possible assignment” that I may not return from, it got me thinking about the parallels between traits needed to survive the writing world and the world following a zombie apocalypse.

As you will see, there are some eerie similarities. And not just between agents and brain-eating zombies.

First, you have to accept the fact that, like zombie apocalypse survivors, writers are in the minority. The odds often seem overwhelming — because they are. Only the strongest writers survive the hoards of editors, agents and publishers, many of whom have an unquenchable appetite for the next serving of hot… intellectual property.

As a writer, you hage to arm yourself with the resources necessary to survive the threat and surround yourself with a support network you can count on.

Owning a crossbow doesn’t hurt, either. Especially when it comes time to negotiate your book contract.

But let’s say you don’t have a crossbow. Keep in mind that whether your support network is made up of other writers or simply people who have your best interests in mind, what matters is that someone has your back whenever you put yourself at risk as a writer — someone who can dress the wounds and be willing to tell you if you’re beginning to turn. And by “turning” I mean losing yourself to a writing world that can harden you over time.

Sometimes without even realizing it.

At least until you begin to stink and wear really outdated clothes.

Finally, as with any true zombie apocalypse survivor, you must make time to revel in the small victories and appreciate the things that make you a writer. In the same way the characters of The Walking Dead have come to recognize and savor the smallest things that define the living — warmth, a heartbeat, aromas, tastes, no more reality television — writing survivors must remember to do the same.

The joy of turning the perfect phrase, communicating an idea in a unique way, discovering something about yourself or a character you hadn’t anticipated — these are just a few of the pleasures that define the writer who lives in all of us.

Whether it’s the zombie apocalypse or the writing world, being a survivor means never losing hope; it means always believing in tomorrow; and surrounding yourself with people who share those same qualities.

And again: carrying a crossbow is never a bad idea, just in case…





(This has NOT been an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist,” due out Sept. 24 from Port Hole Publishing)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

23 thoughts on “More writing wisdom you won’t actually find in my book”

  1. Honestly Ned, I find that crossbows make very poor close in weapons – unless you hit the other person over the head with the bow. When I picture your struggle with editors, I envision a much more personal encounter – like this one of you and your editor:

  2. Loved this one. 🙂 I wish I could double like this since you managed to combine my two favorite things, zombies and writing, in a single post. Maybe the zombies in my head (what…isn’t that a thing?) can rate it better: they’ll give you ten rotting fingers up (and four thumbs) – and they were saving that for dinner so it’s (stinking) high (to heaven) praise!

  3. While I am the fan of the crossbow (Hellllooooo, Daryl Dickson), I am your fan even more.

    More than once over the last few years you have popped into my head. In those instances, I have thought about how you blog, write, comment, and work consistently. You rarely fall off the radar, and always find the time and energy to help insecure or neurotic writers (*raises hand). You never seem to burn out, and you stay firmly grounded. I’ve often wondered how you do it.
    Thank you for sharing this insight as well as a sneak peek into your book.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. That is quite a compliment, knowing how you feel about Daryl… 😉 And I have to say I am blessed with a truly supportive family, both at home and here in the blogosphere, that keeps me inspired and grounded — and I’m very thankful to have you as part of that family. Especially when I need to borrow your lawn mower 😉

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