HABIT 6: Synergize

Or, Die Hard: The Solitary Writing Life

I’m going to do something a little different with Habit 6. For the past 5 I’ve gone into the Franklin Covey school of thought behind the habit, then how we can apply said habit to both our writing lives and the story telling process.

This time I’m going talk about of one the greatest benefits of the writing life—in this day and age of the Dread and Ever-Ruling Interwebz, no writer need ever be alone again. The whole solitary writer staring purposefully out a garret window somewhere in New England (Hellllloooooo, HP Lovecraft) no longer applies.  In fact, it no longer even comes close to applying. Now there are a mob of writers below, throwing rocks at the window and asking Mom if Solitary Writer can come out play with the rest of the misfits.

Seen the social media landscape lately? My goodness, there’s a lot of us out there. And more coming all the time, with e-business models blowing up seven landscapes in a single explosion. It seems everyone and their neighbor’s cousin’s best friend’s dog’s gerbil is doing some kind of writing, and the possibilities equally endless.

Naturally some silliness must ensue. But then, we’re writers. Silliness is par for the course. And I am all about the silly.

Franklin Covey describes synergy (Hey, Frank—the 1990s called and they want their vocab back)as coming together to find creative solutions to old problems.

Well, duh. Isn’t that what being a writer all about?

Today it’s as easy as plugging in the old dial-up and firing up the tools of the trade. There’s writing and critique groups all over the place. Word sprints and writing prompts on Twitter. Got writer’s block? Need to know the name of a weird medieval torture device?  Need to cheer a word count or commiserate a lack thereof?  The support you need is no further than a few tappity-taps away.

Candles Bolstered Against The Wind

There’s an old saying that a candle is never diminished by lighting another candle, and it’s true. In fact, with every candle you light the darkness recedes just a little bit more. And this job is hard, yo.  And the pay sucks monkey balls. Why, in the name of the Big Cheese Playwright Guy, would we want to do it alone?

Let’s face it: no one gets it but us. Every day at lunch a bunch of us hard-core readers sit together. Read, read, read. Loved this, didn’t like that so much, what’s up with that other thing? Of all us misfits, however, only myself and one other person are story tellers. When one of us talks about how the pacing or voice didn’t work for us, or loving the use of subtext here, the subtle characterization there, midpoints and plot points and who knows what else, the other will nod knowledgably and make some sort of witty in-joke or comparison. Meanwhile the rest of the table has backed away slowly until it’s safe to make a run for it.

That’s because storytellers speak the same language, no matter the medium in which we speak it. Not only do we know why we liked or didn’t like a certain aspect of a certain work, we can pinpoint the technical aspects of the why. Jargon in this biz sounds an awful lot like speaking in tongues.

I may be weird, but at least I’m not alone in my weirdness. And neither are any of you. We’re in this crazy, hang gliding over hell journey together, and it’s nice to know there’s folk on the other side of the abyss prepared to catch us when we stumble.

Point being, for every success we experience, we need to pay it forward and thank the people who helped us get there. For every success someone else experiences, no matter our personal feelings, we need to cheer them on. This is a tough biz. A win for one of us is a win for all of us.

Little Black Book

So we’ve talked about synergy. We’ve talked about sharing the writerly love by lighting candles. We’ve talked about the sharing of ideas and creative solutions to age-old problems.

If you’re anything like me, fellow Word Wranglers, you often find you have, if anything, too MANY ideas.

In fact, I’ve gotta a (literally) little black book of them. And I’m not afraid to share them with anyone and everyone, even on the Dire Interwebz. You can take all my ideas and run for the hills, cackling the evilest of laughs, and I won’t care. Know why?

Because there are no new ideas.

Say it with me now:



Here’s the other secret: Size doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with it that counts. You gotta be bold. You gotta be fearless. You gotta have confidence (but not overly much), and you gotta have technique. Otherwise you’re just waving it around aimlessly to no effect.

One part talent, two parts craft, and just a soupcon of savvy–that’s the ticket.

You can take a hundred people, give them the same idea, and you’ll come up with a hundred wildly different stories. Some versions will be better than mine. Maybe all of them. But that’s okay. I’m in awe of the tremendous talent out there. I’m thrilled to itty-bitty-bits to be keeping such company. I’m completely serious.

So serious, in fact, I’m going to start posting my ideas on this blog. And if one of you takes one of those ideas and becomes a millionaire with a mansion and a yacht and laughs like a maniac all the way to the bank, then hey—I can say “I knew you when”. Or not.  Either way, our community will be richer for another success.

And I’ll find another candle to light.

Next Time: Interlude in Chocolate


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