Saturday, September 1, 2012

The 7 Cardinal Virtues of Writing...

Writers love the Seven Deadly Sins. And why not? They're all the fun things we want to indulge ourselves in. I mean, who wouldn't love to have a great meal followed by rich, angry sex in a hall of mirrors with people we envy, and then take it really easy afterwards?
The Sins make good fodder for communicators because they're an easily recognized checklist. So writers adapt them for all kinds of things -- the Seven Deadly Sins of Business . . . the Seven Deadly Sins of Baseball . . .
Even I succumbed to peer pressure in my book and wrote about the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing.
But so few writers (and people in general, really) pay much attention to the Seven Cardinal Virtues. Did you even know they existed? I'm a Catholic school survivor and I never heard of the Virtues until I was thirty-something.
But who cares. Here:
Passion: Back in my film school days I was given a printout of the five stages of movie development. The first was "wild enthusiasm." The second was "utter despair." The point was to remind us that filmmaking takes all of your soul and all of your energy, so you need to go in with overwhelming love for what you're doing. That way, by the end, you at least still kind of like what you did.
Writing works like this too. It's a lot of work to be a writer, and even more work to be an author. Writing has a very Darwinian dynamic. If you don't have passion for your work, you won't finish it.
Daring: Fear is for losers, wimps, and posers. Fear is bullshit. Daring, on the other hand, is an essential virtue for writers. Try new things. Invent new characters. Say things no one has ever said. Be bold. Be unapologetic. Take chances and don't look back.
Entrepreneurship: I mentioned that there's a difference between authors and writers. Authors write like it's their job. Because it is. Get to work and stay working. Put a plan into action to get your story done and stick to it. Remember -- goals are dreams with deadlines.
Ego: The great violinist Isaac Stern once said that you need enough ego to know you belong on that stage.  Amen. Don't be a flaming ass about it, but embrace enough of your ego to know that your words are worth other people's investments in time, emotion, and money. Know you belong on that page.
Humility: You need enough ego to know you belong, but you need enough humility to know that you're just a writer. You're just one of the many out there with a book. Know you have something worth saying, but get over yourself about what you've written.
Half-full Glasses: The world loves to huck poo at people who dare. Get a raincoat and accept this fact. But there are also scores of people willing to help you, selflessly. Embrace people who believe in you, who support you and who encourage you. And pay it back in kind.
Curiosity: Open your eyes and look around. Find new experiences. Leave your comfort zone and ask questions about the new zone you enter. Life is a banquet if you want it to be, so buy a ticket and ask about the food. Read books on subjects you don't know anything about. See movies you don't understand. Experience new and interesting things, just to see how they play out.
Scott Morgan,
Speaker, Author, Editor, Proofreader, Creative Writing Developer

Write for the Jugular!

                      Bestselling Author of
Character Development from the Inside Out,
               How I Make A Living In Writing

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