A Trick To Better Writing

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Do you ever wish for a magic motivational trick? One that will take your writing to places it’s never been before? Step right this way, folks, and I’ll amaze you with how I improved my writing.

I invested in myself. Tadaa!

Er, it occurs to me that you might need to see how the trick works.

Back in the day when I decided to get serious about writing fiction, I sat down at my computer and typed away. But there was a problem. My stories lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.

Okay, that’s not true. I knew what my stories lacked. I needed to brush up on important story elements. Stuff like plotting, pacing, theme, characterization, and setting. I needed feedback. I needed an instructor. And I needed money in order to take the writing class that would provide all that stuff.

Now, I happen to be married to a swell guy. We’ll call him The Beneficent Mr. Hall (because that’s what I call him). And he certainly would’ve given me the money I needed. But I knew that if I spent my own money, I’d work harder. So I set out to earn that money.

I wrote essays and entered contests and pestered editors to run my column, and eventually, the dollars added up. I took a beginner’s class that wasn’t too expensive. After I finished that class, I knew I needed an advanced class. So I wrote more essays, and tried web content writing. It wasn’t always fun, writing about topics like, “How Owls Can Keep Your Backyard Safe From Predators.” But I kept my eye on the goal and earned enough money for the next class.

I continue to sell my words, investing money back into my career. I won’t quit because I have too much of my own money invested. And besides, I know my fiction writing is getting better and better.

You can motivate yourself, too. Even if your writing’s not at the point where it’s earning big bucks, think outside the box. I have a friend who teaches piano lessons to supplement her writing income so that she can afford conference fees.

The trick is in the personal financial investment. Believe in yourself enough to put your own hard-earned money in your writing and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll get back. Tadaa!

~from Cathy C. Hall (The Magnificent)

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Debra Mayhew said...

Inspiring (and funny!) post, Cathy! It's a great motivator when you invest in yourself. Plus it will mean that much more when the book contract comes in!

Aspie Writer said...

This is so true, and so hard to do at the same time. Investing in myself involved believing in myself enough to spend money on ME. That was the hard part for me...still is, but I am working on it little by little.

I began by buying and reading books (this is the one thing I can spend money on without guilt), and then took a few classes online from a local community college's continuing education department. Then I had what I thought was a brilliant idea… I would go back to school and work on my English degree. For sure, this would make my writing better! Unfortunately, that was not true. I had to take classes I did not want to take, and they sucked all the time out of my day; all the time that I could have spent on writing.

I love your way of earning the money by actually writing, in order to reinvest it. Not only does it give you a way to make money, but you are actually practicing the craft that you set out to learn.

I have my eye on several WOW classes that I want to take, but can't seem to justify spending my family's money on...but if I can earn it... I like where this can lead me. The list of classes I want to take is swelling!

Cathy C. Hall said...

@Aspie writer, I'm so glad you're thinking of a WOW! class--they weren't available when I took MY first class but they're exactly the kind of great value (with wonderful feedback!)that can jumpstart your writing. And P.S. The workshop (plus airfare)that I just took cost nearly $3,000 and yep, I paid every penny. It WAS hard to spend that kind of money on myself but it was my way of saying, "I'm all in." Go all in! You're worth it!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You're right---personal monetary investment is a grand motivator. "Put your money where your mouth is" might better work as "put your money where your writing is." It isn't always easy to part with it, but it is nearly always worth it. :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

What a wonderful mindset, Cathy. It's just like with kids. They don't always take care of their things, they're eager to spend OUR money but when they move out on their own (not dormitory own but REAL own), they suddenly get extremely frugal.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice. My best calculation is that I have invested at least $10,000 in writing classes, membership in professional/reputable writing associations and national conferences since 2000. To date, I have earned back $100 (a writing award at one of the conferences). Some might question my sanity, but I stand behind all of my investments in my writing and would argue to my last breath that the expense was worth it...even if I never earn another dollar at writing. That said, I would add one little supplimentary piece of advice to this. As a part of all the classes and conferences writers receive quite a bit of feedback. Try to welcome every bit of feedback as an educational and welcome blessing....even though the feedback can be contradictory and just plain wrong. (Sometimes, quite frankly, the feedback writers receive from professionals, instructors and fellow students is dead wrong). Always remember this (my favorite) Neil Gaiman quote about writing & revising:
"Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." Which reminds me, I need to go post that quote on my blog.

sally said...

Ummm...you mean putting the conferences on credit cards and then begging God for the money to pay the bills later is not the way I was supposed to it? Ouch. I blew it.

heh heh Not really kidding. But no use crying over spilt milk or credit card debt, I always say.

You are so smart to earn the money before you spend it. What a concept.

And I have also been looking at the WOW classes thinking some of them look mighty good. But I have a five-day speaker's conference in two weeks and then I have WIK, so I think I'm hold for a while. My credit cards only go up so high.

Hey, did you see that the Highlights Foundation is opening up the farmhouse for writers' retreats? Would that be awesome or what. Good prices, too.

Donna Volkenannt said...

You certainly have inspired me. I need to keep my eyes on the prize.
Oh, and I did get an e-mail from the Highlights Foundation about their writers' retreat. That would be a wonderful investment, and the prices are reasonable.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Lisa, I should have used your saying as the title to this post! And Sioux, I am constantly amazed at the lifestyle changes of grown-up, moved-out kids, when THEY'RE paying the bills! :-)

Trisha, why not share your hard-earned writing wisdom in a guest post for WOW!? (I agree that feedback is tricky business. It takes awhile, I think, to know what's good feedback.)

I did see that about Highlights, Sally and Donna! Very reasonable. I'd say we could all go at the same time but something tells me we wouldn't get any writing done! :-)

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