Tips On Writing

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wanna know how I started writing?
I made the horrific mistake at my rural middle school talent contest of singing Delta Dawn (while holding a faded rose, mind you) to a crowd that made the boys from Deliverance look like the Walton brothers. I was booed offstage.
I ran, stage left, directly at my mother and began to yell. “How could you let me humiliate myself like that?”
“You were only being true to yourself,” she said. “And no one should ever stand in the way of such honesty, or such fearlessness.”
She then presented me with a little, leather writing journal and a copy of Erma Bombeck’s “At Wit’s End” and said, “You will need both of these to make sense of your world.”
Writing– and humor – not only helped me make sense of the world but they saved my life.
I quickly learned, however, that writers – all artists really – aren’t ever really given the OK to write, or to create, no matter how much it means to their very existence. And, because of that, most artists start scared, defined not by inspiration but by fear.
Story time again.
Roughly eight years ago, I began writing my first memoir, America’s Boy. Check that: I
actually started it as a novel, as I was too afraid to tell my own story of growing up in the Ozarks. Luckily, I had a muse, an editor, a critic and a believer in the form of my partner, Gary. After reading what I had written, he said: “It sounds nothing like you.” I was crushed. But it was just what I needed to hear.
And so I started over, eventually visiting my family cabin and writing by long hand what would turn out to be the first chapter of America’s Boy while seated on a stoop with my feet in an Ozarks creek.
There was a point – finally, a point – as I sat with my feet in the creek when I was simply writing. Not thinking, writing. Writing as I had – before fear – when my mom gave me that writing journal.
And everything simply clicked. My voice, my humor, my tone, my narrative flowed from my soul. I wasn’t writing any longer. I was my writing. The transition from Wade the person to Wade the writer was seamless.
It came because I finally was able to overcome those fears that had shackled me my whole life:

What would people think?

Did I have the right to tell my story?

What if people hated what I wrote?

Am I good enough?

No one can make it as an author, right? What if I fail?

Who the hell do I think I am, calling myself “a writer”?

For a while, these fears paralyzed me again.
I made the decision – without Gary’s knowledge – to reach out to a number of authors I admired, whose work I loved. I wasn’t asking for a hand-out, or a connection, I was seeking the simplest of things: A response. A single line. “It’s gonna be OK, kid.” “You can do it, Wade.” They didn’t even have to mean it. I just needed to know that they had once been like me.
I just needed to know that it was OK to keep going.
That there was no “golden key to the kingdom.”
I got zero responses.
And, that’s when it hit me: Rather than be paralyzed by my fear, I decided to believe in my writing, I believed I could change the world.
I realized that all published writers were once unpublished writers.
I realized that writers are like babies taking their first steps: You have to do it by yourself, but it helps a whole lot to have someone helping you along the way.
I finished my memoir, I spent months editing it until I was moving around commas, and I did my homework. I spent months writing my query. I spent months researching agents. I spent months believing in myself, even though it seemed no one else – besides Gary and my mom – did.
One week after submitting 15 query letters to agents I admired, I had received seven offers to read my manuscript. Less than a week after that, I had three formal offers of representation.
I believe that if you have a unique voice, discernable talent, an incredible work ethic, amazing professionalism, skin of steel, a heart of equal parts stone, empathy and love, and a feeling that if you aren’t writing, you may just curl up and die – then you can make it as an author.
I believe that if you just want to write, without a goal of being published – to write a family history, to diary for yourself, to become a more powerful business writer – that you need a hearty, “YES! Good for you! Go for it!”
And that’s why I formed Wade’s Writers, and why I hold writing workshops. I am the guy who got no response and became a bestseller. I am the guy who decided if he ever had any level of success, he would attempt to help other emerging writers.
So here I am.
I can’t make you write. But I do think I can make you a better writer. More importantly, I can give you tools to succeed. I can give you inspiration and hope. I can help you crush those fears – in life and craft – that are holding you back.
If you want to write, I urge you to join me at one of my workshops or retreats. (Gary will be there to hold your hand, too!).
Remember, every published writer was an unpublished writer.
You just have to start.


Blogger losing2live said...

This post is an anwer to my prayers. I have spent years writing several memoirs and fiction novels. I dream of publishing my work but find myself crippled with fear. What will my friends and family say? Will they even read my work? Is it good enough to be published? I decided to look for some writing groups or workshops to attend. While scouring the internet, I notice my son's chiuaua doing the butt slide across my carpet with something dangling from his back side. Yesterday, he had feasted on a comforter. Today, it was attempting to break free. After a frantic call to the vetrinarian and assurance that he would live I continued my writer's workshop search online. The next workshop I found featured you, Wade. What better sign could God give me? He lead me directly to the creator and editor of a novel based on humorous dog tales. It looks like I will be meeting you at a future retreat, possibly in Petoskey. Thank you for having a heart to help others hoping to write a masterpiece!

February 16, 2012 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Lil Jen said...

I've spent the last six years writing for a newspaper and only recently was given the opportunity to write a weekly "slice of life" column. It is, by far, my favorite aspect of my job as an editor. It never ceases to amaze me when people approach me to tell me they enjoyed something I wrote; that I made them laugh. Every time I file a column, I ask myself why I bother and who would possibly care to read it? And yet, I can't help myself. Thanks for your blog posts about your efforts to help aspiring writers. Even though I spend every day putting pen to paper (or fingers to computer keys, as it were), I don't often stop to consider the fact that I am, indeed, a writer. Maybe one day, with this in mind, I'll pursue publishing on a larger scale.
Keep up the good work, Wade.

February 17, 2012 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Wade Rouse said...

Thanks for message and please e-mail Gary if you have any questions about future workshops or retreats.

February 27, 2012 at 4:39 PM  

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