Last night my husband and I were watching a movie titled, 7 Days in Utopia, with Robert Duvall and Lucas Black. Lucas plays the part of a young golfer who loses his cool, runs away and ends up in a car crash in Utopia. Robert Duvall is a retired golfer who owns the field where the car crash happens. Anyway, Robert Duvall has learned a lot from life and dares Lucas to spend seven days in Utopia and Robert Duval guarantees he can help him with his golf game.
As I listened to the various things Robert Duvall tries to teach the young golfer, I found those teachings apply to life, to the things we want to do as authors and writers. I’d like to share a few of them with you.
1. Find some conviction. He goes on to say that without conviction, an off-handed comment can erode your confidence. Isn’t that true? I’ve read some e-mails on one of the loops I’m a member of about how devastated a young author was because a reader gave them a bad review or didn’t rate their story as high as they thought it should be. Writing can be a tough business. Every day we have to sit down and tell our stories and hope that everyone will like them. I guarantee you, not everyone will, and that’s a hard fact to swallow. But if we have conviction that we’re doing what we want to do, doing the best we can, developing our stories and characters, we’ll find readers and some of them will not only like the story, they’ll love it. Remember, the reason why we started writing -- Conviction. If you’re doing what you dreamed of doing, the rest will follow.
2. Find rhythm, balance and patience. Wow, how many times have we been told we have to find rhythm and balance in our stories. Don’t provide too many facts too soon. Make sure the story has a rhythm, a step-by-step plot that builds tension, pulls the reader in, yet has balance throughout. Don’t tell the reader too much too fast. Patience is required to do that. Develop the skills required. Find that emotional control to not rush things.
3. If you want to play like a professional – act like one. I’ve heard this over and over again. If you believe you are an author, be one. If you have written the greatest story of all time, show the world you’re a fantastic author. Be professional in all you do. Treat your craft as a professional because if you are writing and are striving to be published, you are a professional.
4. Start with a blank canvas, think with your mind, then draw it. In our case, write the story. I don’t know about most of you, but I have to visualize a scene, the dialogue, the characters’ reactions to everything before I can sit down and put the words on paper. It works best for me. I remember reading where an author was determined to push her output from 2,000 words a day to over 10,000 words a day. How did she do it? She thought out what she wanted to write before she sat down and put it on paper. So I recommend, get out that blank piece of paper or blank computer screen after you have thought out what you want to say. Once you’ve done that, start writing. It works.
5. Have respect for tradition and passion for the truth. We’ve all been told that we can’t do something the way we want to, that it hasn’t been done, that the publishers, readers, editors, etc, won’t accept it because it breaks with tradition. Well, I believe we need to respect the tried and true, the traditional ways, but then we need to find the truth of what we want to do and go for it. Find that passion that you once had and run with it. The publishing world has changed so much in these last few years that sometimes it’s hard to find the traditional ways so I say, if it works for you, go for it with a passion.
6. Confidence comes with being prepared. Boy is that the truth. Have you ever had to get up and speak to a crowd? I have, and let me tell you, if I’m not prepared with notes, history, and a few things I want to talk about, it’s hard. But if I’ve done my homework, prepared my notes, I can speak in front of people with the best of them. So, be prepared. Do your best. Find passion for what you’re doing. Confidence will follow you.
7. The main theme of the movie I watched was:
See itFeel it
Think about it. If you can see it and feel it, you can trust it. If you can trust it, you believe. If you believe, you’ll succeed.
Have a good one!