The Common Sense Guide for Writers

the common sense guide

Spilled Candy Traditional

Out of Print


“Well, you did it to me again!  My Hi-liter went “Winchester” (out-of-ammo) and I had to break out a new one to use on THE COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR WRITERS.  What a WONDERFUL book!  And not just for writers.  I read the book in two sittings.  I just could not put it down…”                                                                                                         — Dick Brauer


Chapter Excerpt:


Guidepost 1:  Courage
Guidepost 2:  Getting a Grip
Guidepost 3:  Flexible
Guidepost 4:  Fear of Success
Guidepost 5:  Develop Thick Skin
Guidepost 6:  Mind-set
Guidepost 7:  Define Your Mission
Guidepost 8:  Nurture
Guidepost 9:  Do the Right Thing
Guidepost 10:  Gratitude
Guidepost 11:  Know When to Quit
Guidepost 12:  Recognize Potential
Guidepost 13:  Start Wherever You Are
Guidepost 14:  Holding On Too Tightly Chokes
Guidepost 15:  The Big Picture
Guidepost 16:  Responsibility Isn’t a Coat
Guidepost 17:  Success IS in How You Play the Game
Guidepost 18:  Love “Em Through It
Bonus Section
Bonus 1:  Fragility of Life… and Death
Bonus 2:  Believe, Believe, Believe…
Bonus 3:  Surviving the Tough Times
Bonus 4:  Losing is Winning?
Bonus 5:  Life Interrupts
Bonus 6:  Sunshine, Cemeteries, Diamonds
Bonus 7:  Balance:  Writing, Obligations
Bonus 8:  New Year’s Day—Grace
Bonus 9:  Planning the Year Ahead
Bonus 10:  When Life Interrupts
Bonus 11:  Chances
Bonus 12:  If it Ain’t One Thing
Bonus 13:  Happy Birthday to Me
Bonus 14:  Lost Treasures
Bonus 15:  When I Grow Up…


Life is magnificent, and it’s rough.
For writers and other creative people, sometimes it’s worse than tough, and when it is, our basic instincts insist we find someone else to blame.
And so we do.
We blame our publisher, our editor or agent; our spouse or kids; our in-laws, parents or siblings.  We blame a cover artist, a copyeditor—or, if necessary, a rushed salesclerk, a slow-moving driver or a harried postal worker.  We blame any and everyone except us.
But sooner or later, we realize that we’re the ones working hardest at making our lives most tough, and then we’re astonished.
Why do we do this to us?
More importantly…
How can we not do this to us?
Writers mirror humanity.  And as humans, too often we don’t talk or listen to ourselves or consciously decide what we want from life much less from our careers.  We’re too busy scrambling to earn a living, raising our families, trying to sell what we’ve written.  Responsibilities constantly bombard us, and each of them cries, “Take care of me first.”
We’re so busy that we’re stressed to our outer limits and so we do what is human…
We ignore.
We zone out rather than tune in to career choices that actively seek to manifest what we really want in our lives.  And we convince ourselves that we need the refuge.  The escape.
We need the rest!
But the truth is that there is no refuge.
We’re not escaping from anything.
And we are not resting.
And, though we might try, we can’t say zoned out forever.  Eventually, life intrudes and drags us back to it.  When we are forced to return, we’re no less stressed and our lives and careers are no less busy or any more harmonious or focused than they were before we tuned out the world with our “ignore it and it’ll go away” attitudes and we visited the zone.  So that raises the inevitable question:
What are we accomplishing by zoning out?
And that raises the inevitable answer:
If we’re accomplishing nothing, then we’re just drifting day-to-day, year-to-year, without stopping to think about who we are (which manifests in millions of ways in our writing) or what we hope to accomplish in our work.  And worse, we’re practicing avoidance.
Talking to ourselves and hearing what we really think can be dangerous.  We might not like what we find out.  We might put ourselves in a position where we have to do something.  God forbid, we might actually have to change.
We don’t like change.
Whether it’s a career decision or one that forces us to alter our perception of a belief, we fear change.  It’s a fact—and a natural human response.  Forget whether the change is good or bad—that doesn’t matter.  Change is spooky.  It scares the socks off us be cause no matter how far out of balance we feel, or how little personal harmony we enjoy, or how much stress we’re under, we are more comfortable with what we know than with the unknown.
Change means different.
Different agent.  Different editor.  Different publishing house.
Different type of writing.  Different techniques in writing.  A different approach to promoting or marketing our works.
And different in any form forces us to traipse out of our known comfort zone and onto new ground.  Ground we’re not sure is solid.  Who can say what pitfalls lurk there in the unknown, just waiting to knock us to our knees?  We could fall through a crack.  Expose our roots.  Make a career misstep from which we’ll never recover.
Who wants to risk it?
The simple truth is that we all want to risk it.  We deny it—often at the top of our lungs and from the depths of our souls—but, at some point in our lives and careers, we all want more . . . or less.
Even though we’re afraid of change, we want it.  At times, we even crave it.  We want more money, more perks, more fulfillment from what we’re producing.  We want more joy in actually performing the work, higher print runs, better distribution.  We want more harmony with ourselves and others, and more security.  We also want less stress, less discontent, less upset and isolation and fear.
We want balance.
We want to feel connected and purposeful.  To know our works hold value.  Actually, we want to know that our lives mater.  That we matter.  And we want to know that what we’re writing and what we’re doing matters.  Oh, yes.  We want change.
Typically, we think that change requires a major investment on our parts.  We cringe, duck and dodge it, telling ourselves that we have no time, desire or interest in making yet another major investment or commitment—we’re running ourselves ragged already.  Just the idea of changing has us feeling so overwhelmed that we do nothing.
But the urges persist.
I’m sick of writing the same old stuff.
I should push the boundaries more.
I should try to write a different kind of book.
Then fear and doubt step in to debate, and they are strong and persuasive.
Sick of writing the same old stuff?  You’ve worked for years to get where you are.  Now you just want to write something different?
Are you ready to start over at square one?
In this competitive market?
You’re making a decent living.  Pushing the boundaries and writing something different is fine, but what if it doesn’t sell?  Can you afford to invest the time it’ll take to write a book that might not sell?  Can you justify—to yourself, your spouse, your family and friends and writing peers—spending the time to write a book that you know just has a good shot at being published but no guarantees?
Come on.  Have you lost it?
Strong and persuasive.
And, we decide, these are all sensible, logical reasons not to make any changes.  The urges persist, but we’re armed with fear and doubt’s logic and sense and reason now, so we wiggle our way around them.  We rationalize through the niggles and nudges and even the cravings and we bury them under “busy-ness.”
But the urges come back.  They always come back.  Frankly, they turn into real nags.
Yet we’ve had a little practice now, and we put it to use.  We’re good at shoving these urges away, and even at denying they exist.  We work hard at it, swearing there is no way that we can take on one more major project—especially one that will change us.  We tell ourselves we can’t risk a speculative venture—even if it excites us to the point of distraction.  It’s just not fair to our professional associates, who have devoted considerable resources to building our careers, or to our supporters, or to our families, who depend on our income.  We just can’t do it. It’s a luxury not a necessity; one we can’t afford.
We tell ourselves all that and more.
And we believe ourselves.
Well, it’s time to dispel the myth.  Change does not require anything major from us.  It does require something from us:  a little patience, a little common sense, and a little courage.
In this book, my mission is to offer you an opportunity to see how you can simplify our career choices—and by extension, your life—by simplifying your thinking.  How you can identify who you are and decide what matters most to you.
As a summa cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks for Writers, I’ve survived many career lessons.  Those, of course, directly impact a writer’s personal life, not to mention her sanity.
Often, as a requirement to personal growth, the writer must bite the bullet and take the risks.  At times, she compromises.  (Writes that speculative book on the side . . . anyway.)  At other times, she just has to wing it.  But if the writer acts from the vantage point of being informed, relying on training, experience, and intuition—the writer’s own and that of other writers and professional associates—then she greatly enhances her odds for success without scraping her knees and knuckles and nose.
The writer’s career road is full of potholes and pitfalls.  Dangerous curves abound and yield signs are plentiful.  As a new writer, you’re rolling along on square wheels.  As you gain experience, you round off the sharp edges.
Each personal experience acts as a guidepost.  Guideposts better the writer’s odds of living her professional and personal life with greater harmony, more peace and fewer wounds.
Who among us doesn’t rejoice at the possibility of suffering fewer wounds?
Any writer or creative genius that wants a more fulfilled life can have one by thinking and making conscious decisions.  By exercising a little common sense, and by summoning her own inner courage.
You supply the courage.


That’s Guidepost #1 in The Common Sense Guide for Writers.


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