Thursday, April 15, 2010

Make It Personal

Quote: "You're taking this very personal. Tom, this is business and this man is taking it very, very personal."
~Sonny, from the Godfather

Song Playing: Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

In real life we talk about business versus pleasure. You always here the villain in action movies tell the grungy hero “this was just business” after trying to kill him/his wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/mother etc. Later, with the hero inevitably catches up with him, he grunts “No, this was personal.” And then spits in his face or something.

My point is just like those action movies, make everything in your writing as personal as you can. Obviously not certain aspects of publishing—you’d drive yourself nuts if you took it as a personal insult every time someone rejected a query, and swear bloody revenge if an agent dared to reject a full manuscript.

As with anything, a balance is required. If you treat your writing like a second job, you have better chances of success. If you track your queries, your writing progress, work on your WIPs with a regular schedule, you can expect to have results. You might not published, but logic dictates that you are honing your craft and becoming more savvy, so when you ARE published you can just keep trucking as you have.

But, you’re not just churning out hubcaps or microwaves. You’re making books. And at the risk of stating the obvious, writing a book is a very personal endeavor.

So make the book personal. Not that you should put yourself as the main character, your mom as the MC’s mom, and so on. But write about something that fills you with burning passion, that make you sit up and want to shake the person next to you. It’s not enough to have a good idea, or a great character. I have known writers with those things. They produced a rough draft, but lost all desire to continue on. What they wrote about didn’t move them enough.

I am not saying you have to write DEEP and LITERARY things, but that the subjects, situations, and events matter to you.

I am sure most of you know this already. But I figured a nice reminder once in a while wouldn’t hurt either. Yesterday I was ready to toss my manuscript out the window I was so frustrated with it. But I took a ten minute break, listened to some music, perused the inspiration folder I made for it, and grew excited again, because I had written about something that filled me with a burning passion, that hasn't died even a year and a half later.

That about wraps up this public service announcement. What ways you do you keep yourself inspired?


  1. Great Post, and good advice. I've heard and read, "Write what you know." so many times, and yet still that advice eludes me every now and then. I like what you said, "... make [it] personal."

    I completely agree; write something you care about.

  2. I write to surprise myself. I never know what the next chapter will reveal, even to me. Ah, the grace of insanity.

  3. @Michael: Thanks! I thought I was stating the obvious, but not so obvious to write about something you are frothing at the mouth about.

    @Christi: I love that surprise! It's like a present! For you!