Nobody Cares About Your Writing … Until They Do

“Why do you think you’re so important, anyway?  Seriously, how big of an ego must you have to believe people actually want to read your thoughts?  It’s not like you’re an expert, right?”

These are ruminations we all have when we try to write–myself included.  The truth is, this can feel like a futile, pointless endeavor at times, especially if you’re struggling to find a large audience.  I venture to guess that many of us have considered calling it quits–again, myself included.

So why do we keep writing?

That’s the real question, isn’t it?

I can only speak from my own perspective, but I believe many of you will share my outlook.  I keep writing for two very specific reasons.

The first reason is that I’m stubborn.  I like to write, damn it!  I enjoy this process!  Is it time-consuming?  Yes!  Frustrating?  Yes!  Hard!  You bet!  But, believe it or not, it brings me joy.  I like creating.  Watching words flow from my fingertips onto the page is a magical, thrilling experience.  Quit writing because I’ve yet to find a broad audience?  No way!  There’s no quitting, but there’s plenty of stubborn.

Secondly, I firmly believe I will one day catch on.  I’ve got a small, loyal following, and those wonderful people help to keep me on track.  It never fails–when I’m feeling down, I’ll notice a new, positive review, or I’ll have a kind remark sent to me via social media, on this website, or in an email.  If this small group of readers, whom I deeply respect as an intelligent audience, if they find something redeeming about my writing, then surely more people will, too.  I honestly believe that.

So, yeah, right now, relatively speaking, nobody cares about my writing.  But one day–one day–I’ll be an overnight success story.  Never mind this overnight success is currently on its thirteenth year.

Nobody cares about your writing … until they do.

And when they do, all that time, all that effort, all that heartache, all that passion–it will all be worth it.

So believe in yourself.

Keep writing.

Write your reviews, your songs, your opinion pieces, your fiction, your editorials, your poetry, your plays–write and never quit!

Because they will care about your writing.

It’s just a matter of time.

Believe in yourself, and they will soon believe in you, too.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)

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Dr Nekros Book Three Cover

Your Past Is a Treasure Trove – Use It!

There’s an old saying that you can’t go home again.  But that phrase is in direct contradiction with the popular scribe’s adage to “write what you know.”

When trying to come up with ideas, look no further than your past.  If you are a fiction writer, your life’s experiences are amazing and worthy of exploration.  Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you give us a word-for-word reenactment of what actually occurred.  But in regards to theme, regret, what-ifs … the past is a powerful writing prompt.

I firmly believe most fiction writers use some kind of personal experience with each and every piece of writing that they create.  The trick is not to get too constrained by the facts.  A writer must always be willing to fictionalize.  A writer needs to know when it’s the proper time to embellish, embolden, and flat-out lie.

Here are a few personal examples.  My short story “Bitterness” is about a young boy trapped inside of a closed camper by his older brother.  This absolutely happened to me in real life.  The ending is fabricated, but much of the story is based on truth–just embellished a little.  “Childhood Demons” is based upon the fact that I used to see creepy demon faces in the wood paneling of my bedroom.  That’s the basis of the story, but everything else is (thankfully) complete fiction.  My dad once told me about how, when he and my mother were newly married, he had to rescue the family dog and her puppies from an area flooding under their trailer.  This sparked the idea that turned into “Mother’s Day.”

A few ideas I’ve lately been bouncing around include the time a coach asked me why I quit high school basketball–I lied through my teeth to him.  Another potential story is about when a drunk knocked on my apartment door in the middle of the night and insisted the apartment belonged to him.  Finally, I think a funny story could be about the time I got smart with a telemarketer and they got even more aggressive with me.  These are just ideas.  Who knows if I’ll follow through with them?

The point is, everyday something happens in your life that could be a story.  Take an event, turn up your imagination, and ask, “What if?”  What if I’d fought back against that bully?  What if I’d taken that amazing job offer?  What if I gave that homeless person a dollar?

Our lives are ripe with possibilities.  We live the literal, but the imaginable is infinite.  So … what’s your story?

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

The Myth Of Uninterrupted Writing Time

There’s a mythical tale about the writer who wrote, uninterrupted, day after day after day.  The world outside stayed away, society kept at bay, and the writer wrote what he may.  Inspiration struck, which was always his luck, and nothing he ever wrote sucked.

Yeah, no.

That’s not the real world.  If you’re a writer waiting to only write when afforded uninterrupted time, I’ve got some harsh words for you: you will either never write, or you will never truly live.

For example … My daughter had some friends over tonight to watch a movie.  During that time, my wife spent special time with our youngest child.  Between getting drinks, making popcorn, checking in, etc., I edited my latest work.  Did I have to stop every so often?  You bet.  At this very moment, I’m the only one awake in my house.  It’s eleven at night.  I wanted to write this article today.  But, I wanted to first edit that other piece as well.  So here I am.

My point is, writing is like regular exercise.  You have to be committed to it, you have to want to do it, and you have to fit it in wherever your schedule allows.  It’s rare that I get more than thirty minutes uninterrupted at a time when home.  Sometimes I piecemeal a simple story or article throughout the course of an entire day.  Ten minutes here, five minutes there–it adds up.  Is that ideal?  No, of course not.

But for me, the ideal is being an engaged father, an attentive husband, a good friend, and an active participant in this thing called life.  I will never sacrifice those things for uninterrupted writing time.

Maybe if I ever hit it big time and could afford to stay home and write while my kids were at school, maybe then I could get those large chunks of uninterrupted writing time, but I enjoy working full-time.  My career as a high school English teacher fulfills me deeply, and it allows me to immerse myself in many different points of view and walks of life.  I feel as though working in a public school grants me the privilege of understanding the entire scope of modern day society.

I’ve been more productive in terms of writing these last two years than ever before, and I’ve also been at my busiest.  I work my writing in whenever I can.  It isn’t always pretty, and it’s usually never uninterrupted, but it happens because I want it to.

That’s the crux of what I want to say: writers must want to write.  Regularly.  Faithfully.  Even zealously.  It’s work.  It’s fun work, to be sure, but it’s work.

So, please, don’t fall prey to the myth.  Stop waiting for the perfect time to write and just start writing.

Get to work.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

What’s In a Name?

I’ve noticed that authors have a great deal of difficulty doing something rather necessary — naming characters.  Names have such power that this endeavor should never be taken lightly.  After all, the name an author assigns a character will likely outlast the author him or herself, especially if the piece catches on.  Can you imagine Hannibal Lecter  by any other name?  Or Hermoine Granger?

On a personal note, I have struggled with this venture as well.  Here are four strategies I’ve developed over the years that have always proven helpful.  This doesn’t have to be limited to naming literary characters, by the way.  Feel free to take advantage if looking to name a pet or child.

  1. Use Your Allusion
    Perhaps your character has something very much in common with another famous person or place.  For example, it’s rare to find a villain in popular culture named “Arthur.”  That name has become so synonymous with “good” and “noble” that the name alone can establish characterization.  “Paris” insinuates sophistication.  “Diana” connotes royalty.  Unfortunately, some previously established names are forever off-limits.  You’ll never get away with using “Einstein,” “Sherlock,” or “Beyonce.”
  2. With a Little Help From Your Friends
    Along the lines of the previous advice, look to your own circle of friends or social network for inspiration.  If you have a friend who is incredibly intelligent and you correlate that name with intellect, tack it onto your character.  The subconscious connection will round your character out and ground them to your mind’s reality.  Conversely, let’s say you have a friend of a friend who is a total jerk.  The name of that person alone may be all the push you need to set that character’s creative tone.  Of course, tread lightly with this strategy.  Friends will read perhaps too deeply into characters named after them.  What may have been a relatively simple decision by you could severely alter a relationship if they don’t care for their namesake.
  3. This Is Gibberish
    If writing science fiction or fantasy stories, nonsense words will likely prove very useful.  I remember a wonderful interview in which Neil Gaiman said “Coraline,” the name of his famous character, occurred simply due to a typo.  He meant to write “Caroline.”  This era has the distinct benefit of the internet, which provides countless “name generators” for every genre imaginable.  I also like to use the old school method of simply combining parts of words that describe the actual character.  Let’s say I have a science fiction character who is deceitful and murderous, yet also charming.  I may put together a name such as “Chare Itous.”  Be aware, though, that the more outlandish the name, the more likely you are to lose your reader.  Readers need names that standout and are easy to remember.  To this day, I can only recall a handful of the names from “The Lord Of the Rings.”
  4. The Randomness Of It All
    If you want to avoid friends and family making any kinds of associations, and if you desire for your characters to remain free of any preconceived notions as the byproduct of an allusion, then I suggest allowing fate to decide for you.  Put a phone book in front of you, close your eyes, open it, and point.  Use the first name of the person you’ve selected as your character’s first name.  Repeat this process for the last name.  By doing this, you will truly allow your writing to establish the characterization of your creations.  This method dodges any shortcuts, crutches, or flat-out plagiarism.  It’s pure.  It’s authentic.  It’s random.  Of course, the internet has generators for random names as well, but it’s nowhere near as fun.

Naming a character can sometimes become an overwhelming endeavor.  I hope these four strategies are useful so that you can get on to the most important thing — actually writing!

Hello, Name, Tag, Sticker, Paper, Event, Greeting

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Hannah Cane has taken the underground competitive thumb wrestling world by storm. Her intellect, improvisation, and unrelenting willpower plays a role in defeating her opponents with such efficiency that she’s been nicknamed “The Machine.” At the championship match, however, she’s accused of fraudulence. Is there any way an average sized woman could somehow cheat her way to victory against men twice her size? The answer will surprise you.

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THUMB WAR

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