Skip to main content

Other Writers Are Not Your Enemy

As much as you might think otherwise, you're not actually in competition with other writers.

I know sometimes that might seem counter-intuitive, but there's nothing that says you're in a rivalry with other writers vying for shelf-space. Or for a publishing deal. Or for column-inches in a print publication.

You shouldn't do anything but try to lift up other writers as best you can. It does no harm to be kind and help as much as you can. It doesn't matter if they're getting the gigs you want. Be happy for them.

They'll remember it.

You won't be that petty person who made snide remarks or got jealous that they got a job you wanted.

You'll be that supportive one who offered nothing but gracious applause and the warmth of making them feel like it deserved it.

No one wants to deal with the other sort of writer.

Trust that if you're nice and easy to work with that you'll get what's coming to you. Don't be a jerk. Your path might be harder than someone else's. It might be a lot harder, but you're still on the path. Occasionally it's easier, and that's worth celebrating.

And don't be nice because you think it's going to get you ahead or that it will win you something, be nice because being nice is its own reward.

If you can't celebrate someone else, or say anything nice about a fellow writer or their writing, then don't say anything at all.

It's as simple as that.

We have egos. It's what makes writing such a delicate balance because our egos are so delicate, right? We have to turn our ego off enough to make ourselves vulnerable on the page, and then we need to convince ourselves later that it's good enough to show other people. Then we spend time evaluating our writing against the writing of others and ebb between thinking we're better than everyone and worse than everyone.

We're all over the map and we all work hard to get there.

When you're driving, you don't pay attention to the piece of road in front of some other driver, you keep your eyes on the road in front of you. You can occasionally pull over and look at road maps to see what routes others have taken, but your path will be uniquely yours. Time spent pulled over in this fashion is helpful for a moment to help you recalibrate, but ultimately you're not moving forward toward your destination.

At least this is the way I'll try to be. I'll encourage other writers on their road, but I won't take my eyes off my destination, nor my foot from the gas pedal.

One pit stop I'm making this week is the reading series I've been shepherding at the Salt Lake City Library. Called Write Out Loud! we read stories to each other and talk about writing on the third Thursday of every month at 7:00pm. You can go here for more details. 

I'm really excited about this week for a lot of reasons, but chief among them is that my 12-year-old daughter has decided she wants to try her hand at writing a book and requested a slot on the reading list for the event on Thursday. This is what this event is for, really. To give writers of all skill levels a place to read and feel comfortable. And it's a place that I've found comfortable enough for me that I would feel confident that my daughter is going to have a good time here.

And I don't think it would be the same sort of event if I viewed myself as an opponent of every writer who ever showed up.

As per my publications for the week, I had a new piece come out on StarWars.Com called The Cinema Behind Star Wars: The Bridge on the River Kwai. I've been writing a TON of material for other people, too. Including pieces for Star Wars Insider, Salt Lake City Weekly, and some other places I can't quite talk about yet. Just keep watching this space to stay informed.

I would like to remind everyone that Escape Vector and The Aeronaut are both currently available for preorder (signed by me here, and through Amazon here.) It would mean a lot to me, more than you know, if you could pre-order them if you're going to buy them.

As a reminder, here's a list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process. There are links to dozens of essays I've written about each individual bullet point and I think some people find it helpful.

As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 

And please, please, please don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on twitter and Facebook!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Anatomy of an Opening: The End of the Affair

Instead of breaking down a scene from a movie, this time we'll break down the opening of a book. (Previously, I've done scenes from City Lights, Citizen Kane, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I've also broken down the opening to Starship Troopers.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is absolutely one of my favorite books. The writing is lyrical and story heart-wrenching and beautiful. Greene's style of writing is such that he always has me gripped, whether it's the beginning of the book or the end. And he shows you so much about the character in his opening lines.

So, here are the first two paragraphs from the book:
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which, to look ahead. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who - when he has been seriously noted at all - has been praised for his technical ability, but d…

50+ Rules and Tips About Writing I've Collected Over the Years

I have twenty or thirty notebooks and journals filled up with snippets about writing, my plans for stories, bits of dialogue, interesting ideas, plotlines, scraps of short stories, and a dozen other things. I carry one with me at all times and it takes me a couple of months to fill one up.

One of the things I've kept in one of my notebooks was a collection of writing tips and rules that I've collected over the years in my travels. From teachers, from books, from wherever. Most of my career has been spent screenwriting, so a lot of these are most applicable to that, but I wanted to present them so they might be of use to you as well.

I've never stopped collecting these over the years and I never will.

To start the list are Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing. They are the first in my notebook and, I think, the most useful. I'll add a star to those I think are applicable most to screenwriting. Some of these aren't applicable to everyone in every situation, but…

Anatomy of a Scene - City Lights

We're going to break down another scene this week, and it's one of my favorites in cinema history. It comes from the ending of City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, which I think is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. 
It's a touching film from 1931 and I would make it mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn to tell a story.
The scene we're going to be breaking down comes from the very end of the film, so if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go watch the film. You can rent it for $3.99 in HD on Amazon or for free on Hulu with a free trial or plus subscription. You should just buy the Blu-ray, though. You're going to want to revisit it.
For those of you familiar with the movie, or for those of you who are going to ignore my pleas to watch it and go ahead with this post anyway, I'm going to set this clip up a bit before you watch it.
City Lights tells the story of Chaplin's Tramp and how he falls in love with a blind flower …