Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fruit for thought - Dara Girard

Summer is the time for fun and flavorful foods. When I was thinking of what to write for this blog I was inspired by an article by Wally Amos, founder of Uncle Wally’s Muffin Company and author of the book, Watermelon Magic. From the word watermelon he came up with his Watermelon Credo to help others through rough times and to inspire them. After reading his credo, I realized I could use the same word and apply it to encourage those of us in the writing life. So, here’s my take ….

W – Writing is key. I am always surprised when I hear someone telling me that they want to be a writer, and I find out they haven’t written anything. Write, no matter what. You do not need permission to write, nor do you only write if you can get paid. If you want to succeed in the publishing industry, you must write, and write and write some more. This is the one industry where you have to ‘train’ yourself.

A – Always give yourself permission to make a mistake. Don’t try to make sure that you write a ‘breakout’ novel or get published in Newsweek. Some of what you write will be crappy, but if you keep going, honing your skills, you WILL improve and in time be proud of yourself.

T – Time management is up to you. I am always amused when I hear someone say that if they could stop working fulltime, or when their kids leave the house, then they will be able to write. That’s the WRONG attitude. Start writing now. If you work fulltime, find time before you leave for work (get up 30 minutes earlier), or during lunch, while riding the subway, or just before or after dinner. Time is what you make it. Skip that T.V. show, or going shopping, and instead write. YOU have to find and make the time, time will not just show up for you.

E – Enthusiasm. If you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, don’t do it. I have never had to be forced to write. I just do. I started early, at the age of 6, writing in my mother’s journal, and have never stopped. Have enthusiasm for what you are writing, for the people you meet in the field at conferences and workshops. Have enthusiasm for what’s new in the industry and keep abreast of what genres are selling and where the trends are. Enthusiasm and passion are two ingredients that will keep you going when things get tough and are vital to success in this field.

R – Responsibility is in YOUR hands. You are responsible for your success as a writer. No matter how many “no thank you” letters you get, you are the only one responsible for keeping going. You are responsible for continuing to write, and continuing to send out – in spite of negative letters. (Note I do not use the word that begins with the letter “r” I prefer to call them No Thank you letters).

M – Making decisions to stay in the game is key and you will have to make them each and every day. What should the title of your book be? What genre should you write in? Should you write a single title or a series? Where do you want your career to go? Which publishing house would you like to be with? On, and on…..just like other areas of our lives the writing world is filled with day to day decisions. Don’t feel stifled or paralyzed, just make a decision and deal with the outcome.

E – Energy is a necessary element of life. Take the time to eat well, exercise and sleep well. You will need energy, even if you’re sitting on your butt most of the day.

L – Let go. When you hit a wall with your writing, or you find yourself facing tough times, (i.e. you have to part ways with your agent, your editor hated your last submission, your sales were down) – let go. Take time for you. Step away from whatever you are working on or doing and do something entirely different. Go ice skating or roller skating. Instead of stuffing your face with junk food because you are down, go visit model homes at a new development or take yourself to a funny movie (Yes, it’s okay to go to the movies by yourself).

O – Onward. Take each day, a day at a time. Don’t worry about mistakes or what you did in the past. Remember, you can’t drive a car forward if you are always looking in your rearview mirror.

N – Never give up. In this industry there are many pit falls, don’t let them get to you down. Keep your dream alive, no matter what.

Do you have some ‘encouraging’ phrases that can correspond with one or more of the letters in the word Watermelon? Please share them with us.

Dara Girard


Alison said...

I thought you advice to 'make the decisions and move on' was excellent!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alison I'm glad you agree!

EllenToo said...

I think many of the things you came up with could apply to life in other endeavors. Especially T-Time Management is up to you and O-onward, take each day as it comes.

Mary said...

The watermelon credo, I like that. I have one encouraging phrase that my brother told me a few years ago that goes along with this...

W- When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Ellen, yes you're right you can definitely apply the Credo to regular life.

Oooh Mary I like your brother's words. I'm going to remember them--Thanks!

Michele L. said...

Hi Dara,

I absolutely love your watermelon credo! Amazing take on life problems and how to tackle and overcome them.

The one that has always stuck in my head is this motto,

If at first you don't succeed, give up and try something easier!

It sure is easy to set a very high goal for ourselves. Then when we fail, we are so hard on ourselves. It is always best to start out simple and work your way up to that big Kahuna in the sky. Then your reward seems so much sweeter and you appreciate it more when you had to work harder for it.

Take er' easy and enjoy life, I always say.

Anonymous said...

Wow Michele, I'd never heard that before. Thanks for sharing it makes perfect sense and stops you from giving up!

penney said...

Hi Dara I love your watermelon credo a great way to take the day on.
Great read today.