The Herm Edwards Guide to Writing (part one)

I love football. If you’ve seen the news at all, you know that a certain player has been charged with some pretty serious crimes. This reminded me of clips I had seen from Herm Edwards, longtime player and coach, in his speech at the NFL Rookie Symposium. Turns out the whole thing is on YouTube. Watching it, there is a lot of points that apply to writing (and, really, life), so I’ll break it down here:

(Update: apparently it’s not embedding. Curses. Linked now)

Not many things in life are free. Some are., but not much. Be prepared to spend some money and treat this as an investment.

Nobody cares.  This is really life advise- but there aren’t excuses. Not for writing poorly, not for having an unedited (or poorly edited) book, not for having a horrible cover, plot, anything. The reader does not care. They want a good book, that’s it. As writers, we talk about a lot of stuff around writing, on twitter, on tumblr, on G+, on our blogs and websites. None of that matters to the person who just wants to sit down with a good book. Don’t think it does.

It’s not a right, it’s a privilege. Just because you finished a manuscript does not mean you should be published. With the ease of self-publishing, you can, but that’s about it. Think about every book you’ve read that you loved, that moved you. Think about those authors; there aren’t many of them. It’s a privilege to be able to write something that people love. As above, don’t think just because your book exists that it is the greatest thing ever. You should be proud you did it- like the college football player, it’s no small feat, but it doesn’t mean you’re a superstar.

God gave you talent: That’s not to start a theology debate, just to say whatever talent you have, you were not the one who gave it to you, be it a little or a lot. Live up to your talent. Improve your talent. If you watch sports, you see that there are always ‘busts’, massively talented individuals who fail to perform to even regular expectations. You still have to put in the work, practice, improve. And if you only have a little and you work your butt off? You’re better than the person with all the talent in the world who does no work.

Have Priories: Where does writing fall on it? I’ve talked about goals before. If writing is near the bottom (or even fourth or fifth), I have bad news for you: You’re probably not a writer. You may write, and there’s noting wrong with that- but it’s a hobby (more on that in a bit). Megan Paasch is taking the summer off to be with her kids & husband. Does that mean she’s not going to get writing done? Lord, no. She has her priories, and family should be pretty high on them. But too many above writing, and pretty soon, you’re not a writer.

Your Habits Create who you are: I love this statement. What are your habits, specifically when it comes to writing? In the internet age we live in, this is crucial. Write down your habits when you write- how often do you check email, twitter, facebook, etc? What about the habits before you write? Your habits define you, and your writing. Change them if you have to and be ruthless (it’s part of the reason I’m taking a week off– I’ve developed some bad habits that I need to break).

It’s Fickle: He speaks to a lot of this, but in short: Don’t think you’re bigger than it. Bigger than your book, than the industry, any of it. Your book might get shredded in reviews and you’re forgotten. You might never get discovered. No one is bigger than it, and you are not the exception. We have a saying in my (day job) profession: You’re only as good as your last project. That’s what people remember. Maybe your book takes off and everyone loves you- they might not in a year, in five, ever again. See the first point- you still have to put the work in.

In any case, it’s a great thing to watch, he has a ton of good advise in there. Hope you enjoy my putting a writing spin on it! Part 2 Monday.



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