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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Are you a writer?

   
Author Topic: Are you a writer?
RMatthewWare
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Robert Heinlein said:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

Matt


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Avatar300
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Everything but number one is irrelevant to the question.
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Zero
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good point
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rcorporon
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I think there's a huge difference between an "author" and a "writer."

I write, so I'm a writer. I haven't publsehd a book yet, so I'm not really an "author."


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kings_falcon
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Yes, but I agree only #1 matters. But to follow the list.

1) Frequently
2) Two books finished, and one short story
3) mostly yes.
4) The book's doing the rounds, the short story will be there after it's polished and up here for feedback
5) Plan on it.


I think if you can tick of #2 you are an author. Being published is a completely different issue.


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RMatthewWare
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I think you're a writer so long as writing is a passion. If you can continue to write whether people like what you write or not, you're still a writer. You're only not a writer when you give up. Sure, being a published writer would be fun. Being a rich writer will be even more fun. But for now, I'm a simple writer, and that's fun enough.

Matt


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franc li
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I don't know about #3.

Perhaps for the writing challenge that is being bandied about we should rewrite some Heinlein.


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Tara
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I don't understand #3 at all. Does he mean you should write your whole book straight through and then never touch it again? That's impossible, unless you're, like, Asimov.
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Christine
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I'm struggling with #3 myself. Especially since I have gone all the way through to #5 and sold a novel, I can't see why it hurt me that I actually wrote 3 nearly full drafts of the novel before I sent it out. It didn't seem to have hurt me.

I guess maybe there is some truth to the idea that you need to know when to stop if you want to be a *successful* writer. (author?) Of course, only #1 is required to be a writer.

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited February 22, 2007).]


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Spaceman
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Christine, it sounds like you redrafted, not rewrote. That's one reason why I have a lot of training stories floating around. After hearing the virtues of the one-draft writer hailed by such people as Isaac Asimov, OSC, and, of course, Heinlein, I intentionally trained myself to be a one-draft writer. IMHO, quantity will produce quality, and if you go into the story thinking that this will be mostly right on the first draft, you've got 90% of the battle won.

For me, the battle is mostly fought before I put down the first word. Like Mozart in Amadeus, the music is written "up here." The rest is just scribbling and bibbling, bibbling and scribbing. That's how one draft writing works, the story is done before you start.

That doesn't mean I never tinker. I often have the need to back-fill. When a story has bigger problems, it's not worth a rewrite. Instead, you redraft. What's the difference? When you rewrite, you go through the story fixing things here and there, and moving this sentence over there, adding a little here, taking this out, rewording this and making it more like so, and massaging and evermore manipulating until you've rewritten it into a pile of emotionless letters. When you redraft, you start the story from scratch and run thorugh it again.

This interpretation comes not from me, but from Dean Wesley Smith, who used to hang out with Damon Knight, and knew Heinlein.

I'm redrafting a novel right now. The original has too many problems to rewrite.

Anyway, I'm not proposing anybody change to one-draft writing if something else works better. My way works for me, but people did raise the question of what rule #3 means. That's my not-so-short answer.

[This message has been edited by Spaceman (edited February 22, 2007).]


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Jim Rage
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Well said, Spaceman. Dean would be proud.

This proved to be a very interesting discussion over in DWS's forums a couple of weeks ago.

The opinions varied greatly...a lot more than I expected.

^JR^


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RMatthewWare
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Christine, you only did 3 drafts? You must be wonder woman or something

I'm on draft 4 and I'll get to at least 5 before I start sending my novel to the world.

Matt


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Spaceman
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Hey, Jim,

Welcome to Hatrack. There's a decent bunch over here, even if they tend toward fantasy. :P


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rstegman
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A quote I have in all my signatures on all the boards I visit is,

"If you write, you are a writer. If you are not talented, you will not get published as often, or at all." -Orson Scott Card

I believe in it so much, I live it..........

Asimov said that Heinlien edited just once and that was it. Few authors have that much skill. Asimov found he had to edit at least twice (or was it three times).

[This message has been edited by rstegman (edited February 23, 2007).]


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dee_boncci
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On re-drafting/rewriting (what's the difference, by the way?)

I can't imagine not redoing my WIP novel. I'll be thrilled if 30% of the material stands resonably close to as-is. I guess it's a function of how I work. I've found I write to discover the story rather than think up a story then transcribe it. I've tried the latter, and it just wasn't effective. Maybe after I work though the process a few times I'll be more efficient.

On the original topic, I would not be considered a writer under those rules. Lucky for me, I'm not subjected to them.


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Christine
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RMatthewWare: The three draft novel (and yes, it was reDRAFTED not reWRITTEn...I hadn't known there was a difference) was kind of an anomaly, but it was also just the thing I needed.

I spent years writing and rewriting one particular novel. I would turn to other things for short periods of time, write a few chapters, give up, and go back to that one novel....I'm sure many of you have one like it.

Finally, one day, about 3 years ago, I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to sit down, plan out a novel, and write it from beginning to end no matter what. I took an on-line course to help with motivation and chose a topic that was quite different from what I normally wrote. I thought this would be challenging, help diversify me as a writer, and keep me from thinking about the things I normally wrote.

I got discouraged a few times, especially when the one-draft method didn't exactly work for me. I ended up making two sweeping changes to the plot with necessitated redrafting. But I did finish it, and that was a first for me.

It opened things up for me, though. I wrote another complete novel this past summer (one that I may only need to edit rather than redraft) and now, finally, I'm back on that one story -- the one I've written and written and written and written -- but now I know I'm on my last draft. For better or for worse, I've learned how to finish a project and decide that it is done, even knowing that it could always be just a little bit better if I went through it one more time. Sooner or later, you just have to stop.


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RMatthewWare
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Dee boncii,
Do you write an outline before you begin to write? Before I wrote my novel I had the entire thing outlined, every chapter, start to finish. Then I started writing to basically fill in the story. Now while editing the story is twice as long, but it did help to have an outline to keep things straight. I now have a good outline for the second book and rough plot ideas for three books after that.

I never outline short stories, though.

Matt


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Murphy7
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Am I a writer? I truly believe that anyone who writes, is a writer. I think of the journals I've read of pioneer women and men, who wrote of simple lives fraught with uncertainties and threats. Often their language was fractured and unrefined. But how their words grabbed my heart! Anyone who has a story, a poem, a thought or a feeling that will not be quieted until it has been written down, is a writer. To my mind, a writer becomes an author, when he/she has completed the piece.

Becoming published is most writers' dream. But that dream carries with it all the contorting saws and hammers employed to make the story suitable for publishing. I agree that many of the tools used for preparation to publish also hone the story and discipline the writer. But the baker of cookies, was a baker before he sold the cookies. ;->

Kathy


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Robert Nowall
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Heinlein was a great writer...but Heinlein and his rules muddy the water. #1 and #2 are good rules...

...but as for #3, everybody should do their best work before showing it to an editor, which means "rewrite." Heinlein did a lot of rewriting purely on his own, if the letters in Grumbles from the Grave are any judge.

...#4 has some value---but if you think something is not up to your own standards, don't send it out.

...and if I followed #5, I'd still be sending out thirty-year-old stories that even I think are awful.

*****

I consider myself a writer. I used to say my regular job was only a hobby...but my "hobby" pays my bills and my avocation pays nothing. I've had to be realistic about it, which is why I keep going through periods of little writing. (The last few months have been pretty good---the last week-and-a-half has been sensational.)


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dee_boncci
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RMatthewWare

The most direct answer is no, I did not use an outline.

I've read tons of stuff on writing in the last couple years since the bug bit me. That exposed me to different ways one could approach writing a novel. I was initially attracted to the idea of using an outline, because it made a lot of sense. So I started off trying to outline first. To make a long story short, I kept getting bogged down with the outline, so I finally said to heck with it and just sat down and wrote the thing. Next time, I'll start with an outline again and see if I do better. I also intend to create an outline for the first/current one in preparation for the revisions I intend.

There's a quote I read in a place I forgot from a notable writer I forgot that said. "Sure I'll give you an outline of my story, just as soon as I finish writing it." That's not where I intended to get when I started out, but it is where I wound up.

It's encouraging to hear you had good success using an outline. I understand it's a minority approach, and gives me a measure of hope that I might pull it off someday.


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Spaceman
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quote:
But I did finish it, and that was a first for me.

It's amazing what can happen to a person when they discover the ability to complete a project. I had many false starts on my novel, and when I finally decided to finish it, I became a writer. There's no looking back.


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RMatthewWare
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I once heard someone say that there's a hundred ways to cook an egg. He was actually talking about cooking eggs, but it applies to writing. There's a hundred different ways to write a book or a short story, and as least as many ways to get published. You just have to find your fit.

Matt


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Spaceman
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All of the ways include finishing the book.
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RMatthewWare
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Yes.

Matt


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Dulci
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Be nice if the published writers say such things like that--and not that each of their individual ways are law! That can sure bandy about the up-and-comings who worship the ground that they walk on and try and emulate something that they're just not meant to do.

A quote from the author Sol Stein that I completey agree with: "A writer is someone who cannot not write."


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AndrewR
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Except that I am a writer who can "not write."

At least, for some periods of time.


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