Monday, June 14, 2010

Debra – 4 Things To Improve Your Chances

1. Blink
This is a little something I’ve gleaned from BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell. Science has provided some intriguing and startling evidence that there is power in decisions made in the blink of an eye. Instinct, intuition, “precognition” are looking more and more like the end result of a gazillion minute pieces of data that your brain processes behind a closed door. (No “if, ands or buts” allowed in the room.) These feelings, hunches and urges are gifts delivered to you in the blink of an eye because your brain has seen a pattern, combined seemingly irrelevant data into a significant whole, or kicked into survival mode. We should pay attention to those gifts.

Writing is creative. Developing those instincts can lead you to wonderfully authentic, confident and organic work. Don’t throttle your instinctive creativity by being afraid to stray from the carefully mapped out route.

2. Think

Beware of blinking. You can’t rely solely on divine inspiration. Gathering knowledge, experiencing life, honing craft, developing structure and paying attention to character arc are only some of the things you really do need to do. Why? So that the “war room” in your brain can make those subtle connections or see a pattern and nudge you. You get inspiration from perspiration.

Also, not every “blinked instinct” is a truth. Personal bias can sneak in. If you’ve carefully constructed a novel requiring a beta hero and in the middle of a tough scene you suddenly just KNOW the problem will be solved if you switch to an Alpha…be careful you aren’t acting on the fact that three people online mentioned that Alphas are hot and you need one to sell a book. You may be priming the pump instead of having that true moment of gestalt.


3. Ink

Words on paper. Lots of them. Especially “The End.”

4. Link

You’ve got to make connections. You need support. You need guidance. You need to support and give guidance. You need to hand that manuscript off to a publisher.


Blink. Think. Ink. Link.

26 comments:

Cindy Gerard said...

Love it Deb. I'm going to reread this a few times today and try to employ methods.
THANKS

Helen Brenna said...

Nice and succinct, Deb. Good advice for every writer, regardless of the stage in her career!

Leanne said...

Cool, Deb. Did you like this book? I've been wanting to read something motivational lately. Would you consider this a good choice?

Terry Odell said...

Great post. Thanks

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- Why thank you, ma'am. It's not the blog I intended to write last night but when I got around to typing, it's what came out instead of the stuffy "do's and don'ts of submission."

Debra Dixon said...

Helen- I think I rhymed my way into a truisim. (g)

Debra Dixon said...

Leanne-- I'm about halfway through the book and I have been very "interested" in what Gladwell is putting in front of me.

It's not a fascinating, OMG! sort of reading but if you like nonfiction this is a good one.

Gladwell is a story teller. You'll spend most of the time reading about the case studies and the various experiments (with people). I find myself guessing what things mean and wanting to get to the results of the studies.

I'd definitely recommend it.

Debra Dixon said...

Terry-- Thanks. We don't do a lot of writer posts. I had had the idea that I should start doing a few. Sort of ignored it and then read Blink.

I'm not sure if I "blinked" the idea of doing a few writing posts or not. But I'm treating it like a blink and waiting to see what it means in hindsight.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Deb, together with theories about how much of our behavior is triggered by primitive instincts--survival of individual, species, etc--you get such an interesting picture of the human animal trying to function effectively in this crazy 21st century world.

KylieBrant said...

Great advice, Deb. I know that when I waffle over a line or paragraph I'm really just wasting time, LOL!

Debra Dixon said...

Kathleen-- I totally believe that romance is so powerful because it is about survival of the species gennome. Men don't quite get it because their drive is the survival and protection of the living.

They think in terms of right now and not the future.

Or at least that's my philosophy today. (g)

Debra Dixon said...

Kylie-- Oooh, good point.

That's taking it to the micro level and reminding us that exercising that "blink" muscle can make us more protective.

Debra Dixon said...

Thanks to ForestJane, I've corrected "hutches" to be "hunches."

Duh.

Banging head on desk.

lois greiman said...

It's often difficult to know whether we're overthinking things. The Niki ad: Just do it! often speaks to me.

Janga said...

Thanks for the advice. It was just what I needed to hear today since I've spent the morning second guessing myself about a ms and avoiding the query process once again.

Michele Hauf said...

Love those simple words. Also a proponent of 'just do it', as Lois says. It doesn't get any easier than that.

Christie Ridgway said...

I needed this today, Deb! I am revising and I'm thinking of reordering some scenes. Was worried about going "off the map." I think I'll listen to my gut today!

TerriOsburn said...

Great blog and great timing for me. I'm revising my first finished MS (yes, I finished one - aren't you amazed?!) and the idea of making good sized changes to what I have is freaking me out a bit. I maybe print this off and throw it on the wall with the storyboard.

Thanks!

Betina Krahn said...

Deb, you're about to achieve iconic status a second time-- for this amazing little scheme of rhyme. I've already set it to memory and taken it to heart.

Spread the word, guys. . .

Debra Dixon said...

Lois and Michele--

I think the folks who are good at "just do it' are also people who are comfortable with their blink response.

Yep, I think that may be a symptom of folks who've come to value the push from within.

Debra Dixon said...

Janga-- Arrgh. Second guessing is just downright no fun at all.

But querying is full of wonderful possibilities. Get ye to the keyboard and make some possibility!

It'll be good.

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- You'll have to let us know how happy you are with the results once you've penciled in the new path on the map!

Debra Dixon said...

Terri -- Yay! I'm very proud. Good on you!!! Seriously, doing a revision on your first finished manuscript is such a milestone for a writer.

I can also understand the freak-out. It seems so counter-intuitive to "unfinsh" something you just finished.

But don't forget that you've got this "blink" war room inside you to help you. Pay attention to those changes that feel right.

And your "twin" is pleased as punch!

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- LOL! Thank you.

I think every writer struggles with these four. I'm going to memorize it too!

Keri Ford said...

Very cute Deb!

I snagged a pitch appointment with you at nationals! if you need snacks or drinks to get through it...get your order in.

Debra Dixon said...

Keri-- Yes! If you come in with a Coke Zero or Diet Dr. Pepper or real Dr. Pepper, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to ask to see whatever you pitch.

Seriously, though, I'll be looking forward to talking to you!