The One Thing Every Writer Needs To Be A Success

Over the last decade or so, I’ve written tens of thousands of words. Every once in a while I think how Charles Dickens or Ernest Hemingway might have felt about the tools the writer has today. Were they alive my excuses for not finishing a project on time would fall flat and, in regards to Mr. Hemingway for sure, they might even punch me in the face.

Today, the writer has thousands of tools. Occasionally, I get distracted by the sheer volume. I think, maybe if I have XYZ tool then, for sure, I’ll become a much better writer! This, as you know, is foolishness.

The one resource that has never failed to get me going or keep me focused is my writers group, the Weaklings. They are my comrades in arms pushing me forward when I need to press onward. They are my refuge and friend in the foxhole, when the charge ahead is becoming too much. They never cease to be present and check in.

DSCN1688Sure, that program can instantly create an amazing outline. But can it read the manuscript for plot holes? Paying for that writer’s magazine can help find a list of agents, but can it connect you with one? Also, what software out there will tell you gently, with a firm voice and warmth in their eyes that what you are writing is not up to snuff and you’ll have to give the draft another go?

People are essential. It’s one of the reasons we created Jot. No, it might be the reason. We realized that we have a connected group helping each other through writing quagmires. But other’s do not. We wanted to create a space where that is possible.

To those who consistently attend Jot, thank you. But I ask something of you. How about step out and be bold. If you don’t have a writer’s group, why not try to create one there, on the spot?

Sharing your work is not a sure way to become a New York Times Bestseller. But, it is a sure way to grow as a writer and lighten the load. They may even buy one of your books if you work hard enough to finish one.

How has a writing confidant helped you grow?

Check in later in June for details about the next Jot Coming in September!

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What Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters

Hello Jotters! We are less than two weeks away from Jot 3.

The Weaklings could not be more excited about the latest addition of Jot. Not only do we have an excellent line up of presenters, but are offering a free poetry workshop byMatthew Landrum, Poetry Editor of Structo Magazine (limited spaces available).

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Thomas McClurg. He’s a local indie author and is presenting on the topic of screenwriting.

1. I assume most of our attendees are book writers (fiction, nonfiction, memoir etc.) or poets. Tell me why you think Jot attendees should consider taking a stab at screen writing.

Short answer: Because I think it’s a fascinating discipline. I find the act of creating scenes and characters with words and imagining that they are being translated into a film by actors and directors to be a treat for the imagination. Doubly so for me because I have a great love of movies.

On a more practical side, I think the act of studying any discipline related to writing, be it fiction, non fiction, stageplays, screenplays, etc… is beneficial. They all have things that can help inform us on the discipline we love most, whatever that might be. You never know what might inspire you.

2. For novelists, there are staple books that all writers should read (Elements of Style, Bird by Bird, etc.). What books should screenwriters be reading?

The “Hollywood Standard” would be the only absolute must I can think of. Formatting is huge for screenplays. The book goes through in detail what the formatting requirements are for screenwriting.

“Save the Cat” is a highly regarded book on the topic. I personally enjoyed reading one by the name of “Your Screenplay Sucks” and the less provocative sounding “The Writer’s Guide to Writing Your Screenplay”

3. What are some of the amateur mistakes a beginning screenwriter can make?

Being to wordy and writing like a novel. Novelistic writing will bloat your screenplay. Whittling things down to the barest and brightest of words is a big challenge. And then not understanding formatting. Formatting errors are the surest way to draw attention to the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing.

4. If a Jot attendee wanted to submit a screenplay, where do you think they should start?

It’s a very closed industry. Networking is huge, huge, huge. I would suggest taking courses somewhere. Chances are the instructors were in the business at one point (or still are) and can point you in the right direction. Outside of that realm, there are tons of competitions and festivals where people in the industry are looking for quality work. For example, a competition I entered had as the top prize the screenplay being optioned to agents and producers (along with $10,000.00)

And as extreme as it sounds, moving to LA. is another way. It’s cliche to say that someone packed their bags and moved to California to become a movie star, but that happens, for all parts of the industry, screenwriters included, because that’s where the industry is, that’s where the movers and shakers are.

5. What movies should I watch to see good examples of excellent screenwriting?

Bad movies don’t get made from good screenplays and good movies don’t get made from bad screenplays. Simple as that. There’s a lot more to it, quality actors and directors play enormous roles, but the screenplay still has to be solid.

Take any critically acclaimed film and there’s a good chance the screenplay is worth reading. Fun thing about screenwriting is you can read bunches of scripts online for free. www.simplyscripts.com http://www.script-o-rama.com are two huge databases of screenplays. They are generally quick reads and there’s no better way to learn then to just read the scripts to your favorite movies.

Please post any questions for Thomas below, or seek him out at the conference.

See you Friday March 14th!

The Jot Conference returns on Friday, September 13th, 2013!

megaphoneYou read it correctly. We’ll be having another JOT: GR Writers Mini-Conference on Friday, September 13th, 2013. We’re working on the outline for the evening now and will be posting updates here as we get things finalized. Here’s what is set in stone:

When: Friday, September 13th, 2013 at 7pm

Where: Baker Book House

What: We’ll be focusing on the same three key goals we focused on for the first JOT conference – Meet. Learn. Write.

Our first goal is to provide writers with an time to meet each other and strengthen the Grand Rapids literary scene through a fun community event.
Our second goal is to provide excellent content for writers to learn something about the craft or the industry.
Our third goal is provide busy writers with space and time to actually write and not just talk about it. We’re all busy, but by attending JOT you are insured some quality writing time in a beautiful local book store.

Cost: Totally FREE.

Who: For sure The Weaklings will be there (Josh, Matt, Bob, and Andy) along with some friends in the publishing industry and writing community. More to come!

We’ve got a lot planned for JOT this September. Watch this space, and our Facebook page, for updates. We’ll be posting them as we’ve got them. Hope to see you there!

Keep writing!

-Andy Rogers

Why You Should Attend Jot

Writers are unique individuals. Not because they tend to be odd or nerdy or both, but because they spend their time doing something that most would consider torture – that is – writing something. Writing is hard work. It’s a task that requires an enormous amount of effort. It calls for perseverance. It needs constant encouragement.

This is where Jot comes in.

Jot is for new and aspiring authors. It’s for established authors, writers mired in the drafting or writer’s block stage, and for those interested getting their feet wet, having yet to put words on the page.

Why should you attend Jot?

Because it’s a date with your inner writer. It’s a time to reflect on your writing life, to learn tips, rub shoulders with other authors and, possibly, make a writing friend or two in the area.

Who should attend Jot?

Anyone interested in writing. Whether you are standoffish about it or plunging into your work, it is a free experience to get some encouragement to dip your toe in the water or to keep swimming when there is no sight of land.

Thanks for reading the post, we look forward to meeting each of you.