A lot of people write for fun. Some of them discover that they have real talent and also begin writing for profit. Personally, I think that whether you’re a revolutionary with a message to tell, whether you’re writing just to stroke your ego, or you hope to make a comfortable income as a businessperson, writing is a lot more fun when you’re making money.
Most people who come to my workshops have said things like,
“I learned more in this one course than I did getting my Master’s degree in Creative Writing.” I’m not sure that that’s entirely accurate, but I do work hard to teach writers the things that they can’t get in college.
Years ago, when I taught creative writing at a major university, I had my class going for a few days when the Dean of the College of Humanities sat in on a couple of my classes. Afterward, he said, “Your curriculum is amazing, but I’ve been thinking: This is the kind of thing that ought to be restricted to Ph.D. candidates. Could we turn this into a 600-level writing class.”
I told him, “No, this is the kind of thing that you need to know in order to become a bestselling writer.” I don’t think that it’s an accident that some of my unpublished students went on to become international bestsellers.
You see, when I was studying creative writing in college, I felt that the curriculum was lacking. I think that new authors need to study four major topics:
1. First, the Fine Art of Storytelling
—What makes a character intriguing or likeable? How do you build a world for your story step by step? How do you layer conflicts so that you give your character gripping problems? What makes a reader want to cry at the end of a story—or grab a friend and try to get them to read your book?
The truth is that most university professors don’t want to touch this topic. Since the 1880s it has been considered kind of taboo. Storytelling isn’t considered an art, it’s a subject studied only by hacks.
Folks studiously ignore the fact that great storytellers often aren’t great writers, yet a book like “50 Shades” will rake in a hundred million dollars while far better literary pieces languish on the shelves.
2. Writing with Style
—Hemingway said that the secret is simple: “All great writing, every great novel, is poetry.”
At one level, that’s absolute rubbish. Great stories are often poorly told.
But at another it’s a profound truth. When you as a storyteller connect to your story at the deepest level, and treat it with dignity, and write it beautifully so that you merge your story with the right poetic elements so that it gains potency, you really are writing poetry.
But poetry alone won’t cut it.
Writing teachers tend to focus almost exclusively on style, as if this were the most important thing in the world. So developing a great style is typically something that you can do very well in college.
3. Staying Inspired
—Years ago I told a young writer that writing was “simultaneously the easiest job to do in the world and the hardest job in the world.” A few years later the writer called me for some help. He’d become a bestseller and was trying to figure out how to shelter his income from taxes, so I suggested ways that he could be investing in his own writing future. Suddenly he blurted out, “I understand! Writing is the hardest job in the world, because when you’re starting out, it can be very hard to stay motivated for month after month, year after year. But once the money starts rolling in, it becomes the easiest job in the world.” I smiled and said, “You’ve got it!”
Most college writing instructors aren’t novelists. They may be poets or writing short stories. They’ve never had to figure out how to stay motivated, get inspired, hold onto the fire in their belly, and struggle to write day by day. They’ve never learned how to savor writing a long work, taking joy in the work itself. They haven’t figured out how to train their subconscious on how to work on literary problems while dealing with day-to-day issues. They haven’t learned to turn their inspiration to write into a writing habit.
4. The Business of Writing
—Every writer is a small businessperson, one that markets its product in dozens of countries around the globe and in various mediums. To be a successful writer, you need to learn how to run your business.
Unfortunately, most writing instructors have never had to work as writers. They’ve never written a book that sold millions. They don’t know how to read a contract or even how to submit a novel to a major publisher.
They don’t understand how or when to release a book.
They don’t know what a writing ring is for, or a book bomb.
They don’t understand the importance of getting presales in order to get on a bestseller list, or how publishers groom certain authors to become their “super leads” much in the same way that a stable owner grooms a horse to run his races.
Because of this, many people spend years learning how to write but then, when they’re ready to launch a career, they make major mistakes that cripple them right out the gate.
So, I’m going to take all of these elements—storytelling, writing with style, how to keep focused and inspired, and the business of writing—and combine them into a new program.
You’ll be able to gain access to online classes, seminars, weekly lessons, writing books, and a new online forum dedicated to helping writers master the art and business of writing—all for a very-low price.
You’ll hear more in the next few weeks, but until then, have your writing friends sign up for my free writing tips at mystorydoctor.com, and remember to have them pick up my book, “Daily Meditations: Writer Tips for 100 Days.”
Please note that the Writer’s Peak Workshop will be closing tomorrow. People who register can either come in person to Provo, Utah, watch it live-streamed, or watch the workshop on HD video. So you can enjoy this from anywhere in the world.
The goal of this workshop is to help you overcome writer’s block and learn to get into the writing groove instantly, so that you write at Peak Performance!