Guidelines For Bringing on the Heat

I just got back from the 41st Annual Summer SCBWI Conference in LA. Over the course of the long weekend I was mulling over the topic for this blog--heat. I kept trying to find a connection that worked for me.

Back home and with a little perspective under my belt, I realize that while there were many conference themes that kept appearing over and over again--one of them did have to do with heat--the kind of heat that is caused by pressure.

Writers feel an enormous amount of pressure in this business. The tension and criticism that we experience can result in a rash, less than thought out explosion of emotion. It makes us feel immediately better to let off some steam, unfortunately this usually just adds more fuel to the fire. So I thought I would give you some tips and thoughts about navigating the heat that comes along with being a writer.

*If you MUST write down your anger and frustration--try a rough draft on paper first. Work some place where there isn't an easy SEND button. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet. Writing in the heat of the moment usually makes us feel better--we're writers for god's sake--it's what we do! But I've seen too many people burned by their words, even when they haven't been that incendiary. A well crafted blog post, will still be a well crafted blog post if you wait a day to get some perspective. A fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-rant will not likely look as attractive in the morning. Give yourself the gift of time when you're angry. Or better yet, channel that emotion right into your manuscript, sell that baby and kiss Karma because she was looking out for you. 

*Find out more information before you jump to conclusions. Life is like a giant game of telephone and you have no idea where you are in the translation. Someone might start the game by saying...

Kittens wear mittens while writing in script. 

But by the end--the last person might hear...

Kitty, won't touch your manuscript, even if she's wearing mittens.

That B*&ch!!! I hate Kitty!!! I can't believe she said that. I'll tell her a thing or two...Oh, wasn't Kitty the agent? And she wasn't even talking about my manuscript? Oppsies. Be sure you know what you're talking about before you respond to it. Avoid jumping into flash mobs of angry people--flash mobs of dancers are perfectly fine though.

The LA12SCBWI Hippie Hop Flash Mob for Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser!!!

*You're better than that. Sure, we all loose our minds from time to time. I'm not ashamed to say that once when I got mad at my husband, I hid all the bath towels and admired the wet foot prints on the floor in the morning. We are human and stuff happens. BUT, throwing a temper tantrum in the privacy of my own home is different than throwing one at work. I find it hard to imagine that when I was a teacher, I'd ever sneak into the principal's office in the middle of winter and make off with her coat. Even if her name was Kitty and she wanted me to be outside for recess when it was too cold. You just don't do that.

The "office space" for a writer is vast. We are being watched constantly. And I don't just mean published authors. Pre-pupblished authors MUST conduct themselves as if they are already in the business full-time. This is not negotiable. Jill Corcoran spoke at the SCBWI LA agent panel about NOT signing certain writers once she saw the things that they were saying on social media. It is hard enough to get published without shooting yourself in the foot. Remember what your office space is.

*Grow a set for the things you believe in. Yeah, so this is counter intuitive to all the advice I just gave you, but it's the truth. There will be times you need to speak out. There are people starving in the world, there are miscarriages of justice that need defenders. We see the children who need a voice because theirs has been stolen. Without a doubt, there are things worth getting fired up about and it's my personal opinion that if you take the time to carefully craft your statement to the world, do your research, understand that not everyone is going to agree with you AND you can live with that--then you'll probably be someone's hero.  And that is a very awesome thing...maybe even HOT!


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