The Growing Up of Writing

This month, for the AW Blog Chain we talked about birthday’s and “growing up”. Many of us remember growing pains as we grew through each of the life stages behind us but did you know that our writing experiences similar growing pains?

The Labor of our Love of Writing

The Labor of our Love of Writing

It all began, years before it all began. We gestated our love of language and writing through our own growth stages. Many writers can remember the joy of written creations shaping childhood. We daydreamed of the creativity we would, one day, bring into this world.

Eventually, the nesting period culminated in the pain and loss of childhood innocence. We brought our writing out into the harsh light of day. No longer could we cocoon our inspiration and ideas in the womb of secret passions. And so, our writing was born into the world. For the first time, others admired the wonder. Our baby was beautiful, at least in our own eyes, and the real journey was just beginning.

Each idea, story, or article is born in the same way. It starts, nestled safely in our minds and hearts until we push through the anxiety and pain to bring it out onto the page.

Cutting our Writing Teeth

After those labor pains, writing wandered through weeks of sleepless nights. We would delve into it at a moment’s notice any hour of the day. Often, we were tired, sometimes a little sad, but we were also high on the joy and wonder of creation.

As our writing grows up, however, teething inevitably arrives with sore gums, misery, and sometimes tears. Frustration dampens the thrill. What was once easy and effortless became a chore.

It is in this stage too that we begin to truly judge our writing. Our critical eye develops and we start to see our babies as they really are.

The pain of teething makes us want to stop. Many would-be writers do stop at this point, unaware that we explore new wonders, new tastes, after our teeth come in.

Temper Tantrums, Trouble Makers, and Id.

Temper Tantrums, Trouble Makers, and Id.

Have you ever met a three year old that was an angel ALL the time? I didn’t think so. Because after teething, children come into their twos, threes, and fours. These are the years of discovery. They find their personality, their Id, their sense of self and belonging. And in discovering how they influence the world around them, and that they are a single cog in the wheel of life, they rebel and test their boundaries.

Our writing also goes through this stage. After it’s munched on a few crunchy husks and found it’s teeth it reaches a stage of discovery. It becomes curious, it explores, it takes chances, and it gets hurt and scared. It tests its boundaries and throws tantrums.

This age of our writing is a wonderful part of growing up. It is when we discover our true voice and come to cherish what is unique about what we have to share with the world. These years feel the longest and sometimes, no matter how grown up we become, we revert to those trouble-making three-year-olds. Fear builds and we need to test our boundaries. We need to be reassured that we are safe and protected.

Striking Out with Writer Independence

Around the age of ten, most of us went through a new stage, we discovered that we could do things on our own. We no longer needed permission, we could make choices and decisions for ourselves. But, we were insecure in making choices so sometimes we would get clingy, emotional, angry, frustrated, and scared.

Once past the tantrum stage, our writing goes through a few years where it wanders in the youthful enthusiasm of childhood before it starts to understand danger and risk. Before then, it acts without realizing that what it does might be hazardous but as understanding dawns it begins to question what is right and it realizes that its power to affect others can do as much harm as good.

This stage of development is one that is truly magical but often overlooked. It feels like an in-between, we often just think the ten year old is a ten year old. Not quite a child, not quite a teenager, still young, carefree, and without the worries of the world on their shoulders. But a ten year old worries, and our ten year old writing become concerned too. As the weight of those worries build in the coming years it leads into the next stage.

Responding to Responsibility - Teenage Rebellion

Responding to Responsibility – Teenage Rebellion

When that former ten year old now about fourteen realizes they’ve had enough of the sense of responsibility that comes with growing up they rebel. They toss off the shackles of responsibility. They want to be carefree again. They want to make bad choices and they don’t want to be concerned with consequence. They want to be three-years-old again, when right and wrong didn’t matter and when they were still oblivious to danger.

Our writing loves this stage. If you’re in it you won’t know it but your voice is dramatically different in this stage. It’s not even really “you” so much it’s the mask you put on, the face you show others. This is also the age where you’ll find your writing most mimics others. You wear the masks of other people as your writing tries to fit in.

You’ll often find in this stage you begin to harness the ability to put deep emotional ties into your writing. That angst you felt as a teenager is angst your teenage writing gives voice. Before your writing reaches adulthood it can bleed on the page, everything is intense, without filter. It often lacks direction and almost never has a plan. It also ignores consequence. But it’s only steps away from the balance, understanding, and grounding of adulthood.

Balance, Understanding, and Grounding

All of these stages eventually lead to adulthood. You’ve been reckless, you’ve abandoned responsibility, you’ve discovered your sense of being separate and distinct from others, you’ve taken a bite out of life, and become your own person. You step away from your family and begin building a place for yourself in the world. You’re still learning who you are, because none of us ever really stop, but you’ve got a firmer grasp of yourself and your emotions. You’ve learned that you have a place in the world and that, to some degree, you have the power to shape that place.

When our writing reaches this same level of maturity it too has learned that it has a place in the world and that it has the power to shape that place. We’ve learned to harness our raw emotions, to give them essence and strength on the page. But we’ve also learned that those emotions play a part in the greater whole of our story. They aren’t just there for the sake of being there, they, in their very being, have significance to the story and to the characters.

We’ve also learned through growing up that there are times when writing is hard and there are times when we can write from the core of our three year old, we can write from the minds of our ten year old, we can write from the heart of our fourteen year old, and that all of those things are within the adulthood of our writing. In this, maturity of our writing, we have greater command and control. We know how to manipulate language, and to put our influence on the page.

In adulthood, we’ve also learned the importance of having a message. Our writing is no longer aimless, it conveys, it transforms, and it brings value to those around us. We’ve learned to be giving and we’ve learned to use our strengths to make a difference for others, and ourselves.

What have you learned as your writing was growing up? Do you think you’re still in one of these other stages? Do you recognize any stages I’ve not mentioned? How has your own writing grown?

See what other Absolute Writers have to say about “Growing Up”:

Personal Insecurities And The Quest For Success

With the New Year firmly upon us the web is alight with New Year Resolutions and inspirational goals. It is time to examine the year gone by and look ahead to decide what 2009 will bring.

For me, 2009 holds fear and uncertainty. With any opportunity for major growth and development there is an element of risk. This year, my youngest starts full-time school; expectations rise for all of us.

This is my final year to establish my freelancing career to a self-sustaining level before all other income sources are withdrawn. This, I suppose, is my primary concern. For two years I’ve tinkered through good intentions. Each month I would vow to make headway towards regular and steady income opportunities but I look back and find myself no closer to my goals then when I set them.

I’m inspired by the success of my friends and colleagues but challenged by personal insecurities and emotional retardation. I try not to allow myself to divert responsibility but every hurdle challenges my faith in myself.

What inner demons challenge you in your quest for success?

Book Review: How You Leave Them Feeling

Title: How You Leave Them Feeling
Author: Jesse Ferrell
Publisher: JessTalk, hardback, 254 pages
ISBN 10: 0977881008

“Simply put, how you leave other people feeling and how people perceive you have a profound effect on the quality of your life,” declares the jacket blurb on Jesse Ferrell’s “How You Leave Them Feeling“. Ferrell encourages readers to adopt his approach in any interaction. The goal is to leave each person feeling good about himself and thus feeling good about you. When you do this, Mr. Ferrell maintains, you will be on the way to living the life you deserve, getting what you want out of life, and “living the good life now.”

Ferrell begins with a rousing introduction in which he explains the idea of the book. He describes how he saw that his own success was based on his ability to consistently leave clients and others feeling good about themselves. Then he sets the table for the main course by listing the principles on which he has built his own life. (He calls them the “Seven Essential Laws of Life”.)

In the thirteen chapters that follow, he delivers the details of his Seven Essential Laws and explains how they relate to leaving others feeling good about themselves and you. He explores subjects of attitude, communication, personal and professional development, building a support network, maintaining a healthy balance in life and more, illustrating liberally with real-life anecdotes and summing up with bits of catchy wisdom.

Some memorable points of the book for me were:

  • The idea of the personal signature or unique style by which each of us becomes known.
  • An emphasis on kindness and giving to others.
  • The importance of attitude – along with a piece of good advice: “When in doubt, leave it out… it is far easier to revisit a situation and provide additional messages than it is to take back a wrongful or inappropriate remark stemming from an attitude glitch.”
  • The importance of listening: “Sharpening your listening skills will bring you more respect and interpersonal growth than just about any other endeavor. People like to feel they are being heard. When you clearly listen to others, you are honoring the power of communication by investing the time to take in their message.”
  • The challenge to leave everything – and everyone – better than you found them.

The readability of Ferrell’s practical and crisply written material is helped by consistent organization and formatting. The text is laid out with lots of white space between paragraphs and broken up with bold-face headings. The main points of each chapter are listed again at the conclusion as action steps. A list of summary points (one-sentence statements that describe how following the actions steps will impact the reader’s behavior) and affirmations (brief positive statements for the reader to repeat or reflect on) conclude each chapter.

Jesse Ferrell, the man, comes across as enthusiastic, likable, a great friend and team player with lots of drive, integrity and clear goals. As a former executive within the Las Vegas casino marketing industry, he is now president and CEO of a professional speaking company, JessTalk Speaking Services, and seems eminently qualified to write a book of this kind. His experience in the corporate world gives added value to the personal and professional development section via the diary system he has developed and illustrates. He now works as a life coach and the “JessTalk Life Quadrant Model” he has developed for clients drives home his point about the need for and means of achieving a balanced lifestyle.

I gained much from the book. However, I would not adopt it carte blanche as my personal road guide. It is written from a humanistic perspective and is birthed out of a New Age worldview (bad energy, good energy, karma, the Cosmos, evolved soul, mantra, Mother Nature, envisioning/visualization are all terms or concepts found within). With that in mind, however, I would say that you can learn much of value from “How You Leave Them Feeling” whatever your creed.

I have encountered many of its principles in my own belief system and I decided, as I read it, to use what I could and simply discard the things with which I didn’t agree. It has certainly made me think twice about how I will treat the next telemarketer, panhandler, supermarket clerk or whomever – and that’s got to be a good thing.

Also available to download with Amazon's Kindle.

Violet Nesdoly, a poet, Christian and Children’s Author said, “The world of words has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. As a kid, whenever my Mom needed me for a job, it was a sure thing she’d find me between the covers of a book.”

You can get to know her better by reading her blog, Line Upon Line, where she shares inspiration, poetry, and thoughts on writing life. You can also find out more about Jesse Ferrell on his site, JessTalk Speaking and Coaching Services.

If you’re interested in having a review or article posted on Writer’s Round-About please send a query letter to

Your Goal Timeline: Start Now!

You should now have three lists filled to the brim with your dreams and desires for your future. Do you feel inspired? Excited? Uplifted? With these lists you can make your dreams come true. Of course, a list is just a list, so how do we take these lists and turn them into actionable goals?

Today, it’s time to prioritize your lists. Let us start with our “Personal Development Goals“. Which of these goals would you like to have within your grasp this year? Write the number 1 next to those goals. Write a 3 next to goals you’d like to accomplish within 3 years. Then write a 5 for five year goals, a 10 for ten year goals, and a 20 for twenty year goals.

This gives you a timeline of sorts for your goals. You will begin to see which you need to get working on right away. Those goals that you want to bring into reality within the coming year are high priority goals. They need your attention today. Goals that have longer time spans should not be neglected but they are further in the distance and can be approached more casually.

Next, repeat this process for your “Thing Goals” and your “Economic Goals“.

Remember, this is an opportunity to throw off constraining beliefs. You don’t need to create boundaries based on outdated beliefs. Ignore what is ‘feasible’ and let yourself truly believe that you can have anything you want.

Ask yourself: “What do I want ultimately,
what do I want now.” ~ Tony Robbins

What are some of your one year goals? I’d love to read some of your goals so please feel free to share them in the comments section! Do you have a favorite goal on each of your lists?

Create Your Wishlist: Personal Development Goals

Personal Development Goals:

Anthony Robbins Companies
Personal Development Goals focus on the person you want to be, they deal with your emotional self, your mental states, your spiritual beliefs and achievements, your physical body, who you are and who you want to become.

  • What would you like to do?
  • Where would you like to go?
  • What would you like to create?
  • What skills would you like to develop?
  • What abilities would you like?
  • What are some character traits you’d like to develop within yourself?
  • What would you like to master?
  • how do you want to feel about yourself?
  • What are some fears you’d like to conquer?

Consider travel, education, creativity, and hobbies. Think about your spiritual beliefs and the spiritual accomplishments you’d like to make. Focus on your physical body, your health, your energy, your mind.

Personal Development Goals include those relating to your Career.

  • What kind of job do you want?
  • What would you like to study?
  • What would you like to add to your resume?
  • Who would you like to work for?
  • What do you want from staff you hire?
  • What direction do you want your career to take?

Your personal goals may include places you’d like to visit, people you want to meet, charities you’ve wanted to volunteer with, or languages you wish you could speak. Remember, when you list these goals that nothing is impossible. Be creative, be outrageous, dream! Explore your desires, cherish your wishes, reach for the stars and ask for the moon. This is YOUR wishlist, you can have everything you want, write it down, Now!

Site Review: Writelink [Guest Post by Jean Knill]

What Can WriteLink Offer You?

Jean Knill is an talented writer and I’ve adored reading her lively and genuine voice. You can read more about Jean and her writing life on her blog, Jean’s Musings and at WriteLink.

As one of the millions who’ve always wanted to write, I started freelancing in the 1980s. I achieved some success among UK specialist newspapers, magazines and trade journals. Then life took over and, single again, I had to concentrate on a day job to house, feed, clothe and entertain my children.

I always knew what I wanted to do when I was able to retire from the day job. One day I was silver surfing when I found Writelink. And that’s when my rejuvenated writing took off.

Writelink is a UK based website with an international membership. Reading membership of the site is free, but to get the most from it, you pay £15 a year to become a writing member. The core group of these members are the most supportive folk you could wish to meet.

The site has been through many stages of development, but when I got involved, there were already a number of helpful sections. In the Arena, writing members can post work in progress for others to review and give a star rating. Arena sections allow for articles, short fiction, book chapters and poetry, but only one at a time is allowed in each.

The ambition of all new members is to get a total of 40 stars on piece of work, so it is spotlighted and moved to a permanent section. Other work is removed after 10 days, but during that time, authors can note the comments of their peers to help them edit and polish their work. They might also get views on markets and how to target them.

Once a writer is spotlighted, they can submit to the Resources Section. Anyone who is already published will receive automatic spotlight status when they join. New work is added to the Resources section each month, when new submission guidelines are issued for the next lot. Authors are paid £20 for work accepted for Resources. Not long after I joined, my piece on Making the Most of Writelink was accepted for Resources. Another article of mine, Internet Middle Men, is currently featured.

Other helpful sections of Writelink are a library of e-books, free for members, and lists of markets and competitions, which are updated monthly. Writelink also runs its own monthly competitions, which are great fun. There is also a forum for members to chat, get more advice, or share their successes and their grievances.

Many of the site developments over the last couple of years have been controversial. The latest is the addition of a blog site, which will eventually swallow all the other sections from the old site, and do away with it. It’s happening slowly and carefully, and getting lots of feedback from members. The one downside is that, as members take on the blogging, they use the old site less, so it’s more difficult for new members to get enough reviews to become spotlighted.

I try to get there as much as I can, but it tends to be in bursts now, since my writing has taken off in different directions, and I’m really busy. But I know I have a huge debt to repay to Writelink and its members. Recently I posted a children’s story in the Arena hoping for some helpful reviews, which I received. So then I made time for about 10 reviews of other people’s work in the Arena.

I’ve dabbled with other writing communities, but never found the same kind of support, or the number of good virtual friends. I’m so pleased I found Writelink first.

Have you had experiences with Writelink? What do you think of the site and the services it provides? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Write With WriteLink!

SG1 Series Part Two: Character Development

Characters are an elemental part of every story. An intriguing plot with a good story-arc is important but without approachable characters your story will never connect with an audience. Readers need characters. Characters are the socket for your stories power supply. It is through your characters that readers can plug into the plot and experience the life of your story.

The Stargate series introduces a multitude of characters in various stages and of differing quality and consideration. Some play bit parts as extras or body count but others grow into the story, we come to love them or hate them, we come to care for the part they play in the story, their injuries and deaths bring anguish and grief or heartfelt cheers.

SG1 – Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal’c

The original SG1 is a team of four diverse characters. Their differences create an initial challenge; they struggle as a unit until they learn to use each others strengths to counter their own weaknesses. It shows the importance of bringing opposites together. These characters are unique in their own fields. It is their united purposes, each individual to their character, which brings them together. A bond is formed that gives this eclectic community a solid friendship. We see the bond develop and grow with the characters as the series progresses.

It is important to blend characters but avoid carbon copies. Each character should be unique and individual. Distinguish them with separate goals, established histories, areas of interest and technique.

The SGC and General Hammond

The Stargate Command is an entity in its own right. It is actually a collection of individuals that work in regulated ways to create a standardized base of operations. There are many faceless characters lead by the General. Most of the time we don’t connect with these individuals but General Hammond represents the unity. His personality molds the actions of the SGC.

Larger forces need a strong head character to represent their interests. Armies can seem like a long column of faceless men but a charismatic leader will show a distinguishing command of his forces. Each of his men is ultimately the voice of this man and a solid leader is one whose men will lay down their own lives to support the orders he puts forth. This is true of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ guys.

The Goa’uld

While the Goa’uld are a nasty bunch in their own right they are an ideal antagonist. They aren’t evil. They have solid reasoning and a collection of emotional reactions that allow readers to associate with them. The Goa’uld act entirely out of an arrogant sense of self preservation and domination. As a people (um… symbiotic race) they act with rational, intelligent thought. They are challenging but not insurmountable.

Antagonists should be normal people. You can create more impact with a sympathetic antagonist then with a diabolical freak. If a reader can see themselves in a protagonist you have a good story but if readers can see themselves to some small degree in the antagonist then you have a charged situation that will keep a reader tied to the outcome.

There are many more characters involved in the Stargate series. Each new person (or group of people) is shown in snippets. Base motivations appear and personality traits are revealed but characters always have an element that remains unseen. It is impossible to know everything and it is important that characters can still do something unexpected or unpredictable.

Over time, we get to know the main characters. Their own personal stories are revealed and delved into. The primary characters are challenged with personal situations forcing them to make choices that distinguish them. Whole episodes play a vital role in adding depth to these characters and introduce situations that push their qualities forward.

  • Use time in your story to slowly reveal your characters.
  • Allow their actions and reactions to portray the depth of their beliefs and desires.
  • Each scene should use your characters strengths and weaknesses.
  • 3D characters have sides we cannot see.
  • A characters relationships reveal vital clues to their personality.
  • Characters always continue to grow and change based on the situations that occur in each moment of their lives.

Finally, just because your story has reached ‘The End’ does not mean your characters have. Characters should still be imperfect in the final scene. Their growth remains incomplete. Some of your characters may have died but most will live on beyond your closing paragraph and while they began at one point and progressed to another in this story there should always be another world to save, another enemy to fight, another day to live and another dream to follow.

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