"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: December 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

So - What's Next For You?

So - we made it to the end of the year. 

I hope last year was all that you wanted - and needed - from your present life.

We often think that the new year is a time to recycle all those old resolutions. 

I think this can be a mistake. 

Because we then send a message to our brains that goals and ambitions are to be confined to January - and forgotten when the year gets under way!

The time to make resolutions is every day. 

Just five minutes in the morning - say at nine o clock - spent making a short list of the things that are important to you - bearing in mind the long term, as well as the short, will pay huge dividends when it comes to reviewing your progress towards your dream life.

Year's end is really only a time to ask: Am I living my dream life? 

And if not, what can I do to make that happen by the end of next year?

Usually any kind of success these days implies self promotion...

Writers are often expected to self-promote, either through social media, personal appearances or via TV and radio. 

This can be tough for many, more insular writers - actually like me.

I may look confident in my videos but it's really just an illusion created by editing and post production. 

At least it does prove that you can be introverted and still make the media work for you.

Actors and comedians often seem like extroverts - but this too can be an incorrect assumption. 

Performing is a skill that even the most shy writer can accomplish with enough practice - and indeed may become an essential component of a writer's career if we want success in this modern, sound bite, glitz driven age.

Besides which, it's about pushing ourselves, isn't it?

With every new writing project we want to improve, to stretch ourselves just that little bit further.

This should also apply I think to other areas of our lives.

Self-help gurus always talk about the need to get outside of our comfort zones in order to grow. 

And what could be more outside a writer's comfort zone than performing, acting and even speaking?

I understand!

It's rare that any of us like the look or sound of ourselves on film. 

Even Johnny Depp says he can't watch himself on screen!

But I think it's important to overcome these things - in much the same way we need to overcome any kind of social anxiety in order to successfully interact with other people - especially people that can help us.

Think of performing as a writer as a necessary evil...

I hate pitching my work in person, an increasingly often occurrence.

To be honest I find the whole idea of relating written material in verbal form to be slightly odd, even distasteful sometimes. 

I mean, why should writers be considered the best orators of their work?

They rarely are.

And how do publishers, producers and agents have the audacity to turn down ideas without even taking the merest glimpse at our writing?

I could be Shakespeare and these people would never know - just because they didn't think Romeo and Juliet had sufficient 'legs' as a viable idea.

It's a crazy new system.

To me, it's a thinly veiled insult to writers, really. 

It's basically saying that the writing is unimportant - anyone can do that - it's the idea that must sell itself.

Good in principle but I am offended by the unwillingness to even ask the question, Oh, by the way, can you actually write?

These days, the writer is often considered a necessary evil - and not always necessary at that.

I heard an artist friend complaining the other day when he suggested to a millennial they should read a book.

"Oh, yeah," the kid said. "I know books. They're like websites made of paper, right?"

All the best for your own writing projects this year!
Keep writing!

Rob Parnell
Your Success is My Concern
Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Times They Are A'Changin...

It seems the longer time goes on, the more traditional publishers are shutting their doors to new authors. 

Writers I speak to are getting their manuscripts back sooner and more frequently with those customary rejections these days, even if they've had publishing deals in the past.

Anyhoo, where I live, South Australia has more than its fair share of successful writers - Sean Williams, who writes Star Wars novels, for one. 

DM Cornish, whose Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy has a Hollywood option. 

My wife, Robyn Opie, is the author of 85 internationally published books. 

Janeen Brian is the proud author of 75 picture books, the list goes on.

Wannabe professional writers should find this encouraging.

Of course a lot more writers find success online these days, being independent and carving a niche as an authorpreneur.

My subscribers often complain about how long it takes to gain some traction as an independent author.

But don't forget it's never been easy to gain traction as an author, even with a publishing deal.

The average author has always needed to write around five to fifteen novels before they might earn enough to live on. 

And that's assuming they're writing the kind of books a lot of people want to read!

The majority of authors have always struggled to get by - so nothing has really changed, except now we can at least get paid for books we sell monthly. 

But anyway, we get so wrapped up in our own issues, we often forget the real purpose of life: and that is to help each other.

It's sometimes hard to grasp what this actually means.

Does it mean volunteering at a shelter or involving yourself in community projects? 

It might. 

Does it mean coaching your local kid's soccer team or organizing garage sales to raise money for the needy? 


These are the more obvious manifestations of charity and giving. 

Sure, they can smack of unpaid work and a necessary short term duty.

I prefer to think of "giving" as a vocation that we can all participate in - all the time - in our own way, using our own personal talents.

Rich businessmen, for instance, might find their real purpose is to give back to the community by using some of their money to fund humanitarian causes... some do.

In a perfect world, lawyers and doctors would spend at least some of their time working for free (we can dream)...

Working people can, through little acts of kindness, make the day easier and more pleasant for everyone around them...

But what can artists, writers and musicians do?

It's rare that artists have much spare cash - and time away from their work is a luxury few can afford.

I would argue that the most an artist can give is to focus on his or her art. 

The more artists work on their projects, the more they are giving - to the community, to the world at large.

The act of creating is the greatest gift we can give to each other, to the Universe, to whatever you conceive of as God.

Because art can bring light into the darkness, true understanding, and joy into the hearts of us all.

What better gift could a person hope to offer?

It's scientifically proven that happiness can make a person stronger, more resilient, more ambitious, a better, more giving individual.

Plus, like the endless Mobius strip, being a better, more giving person can make us - individually and collectively - happier.

Happiness is apparently infectious. 

Viral, if you like.

You might think that my wife and I are a couple of old hippies. 

We live on the land, trying to build a forest and save the local wildlife.

We work on artistic projects as the mood takes us, and enjoy the benefits of working on books, film and music, and getting paid for being "arty-types."

Some people think we're strange and aloof.

But actually we like to think of ourselves as just slightly ahead of our time.

We believe that, as a culture and a civilization, we are on the brink of a new era of 'Universal Consciousness'.

A time when materialism and technology merge with a new spiritual awareness of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

We're looking forward to a time when greed and self-interest become less important for the majority. 

A time when focusing on compassion and responsibility will literally change our view of reality and help us all to become 'new millennial citizens' of our planet.

We see subtle changes in consciousness everywhere - and you might argue that's because we want to see them, even if they're not really there. 

I don't agree.

Personally, I've always believed that true happiness and personal creativity are inextricably linked.

Whenever I speak with people who are unhappy and unfulfilled, I always try to discover the central cause. 

Underneath all the surface reasons like perceived poverty, workplace angst, family problems and esteem issues, there is always a spark...

A little fire that knows instinctively we would be much happier if we were free - and had the time - to simply CREATE.

More and more people are seeing the light of that fire and following their passions - whether that's by starting their own craft businesses, or painting for pure pleasure, or writing on the vague promise of eventual success.

I always encourage people - especially writers, musicians and film makers - to follow their instincts and simply do what their heart is pushing them to embrace.

Because I believe only through creativity - which spawns real fulfillment, true happiness and a more spiritual understanding of the human condition - can we hope to repair the ills of this world and manifest ourselves as the true noble citizens of the universe we've always been destined to become.

Make time today to reflect on these important issues.

By doing so, I believe you can begin to make a real difference to your own life - and by extension, everyone else's - and this year, now.

On that note, you most definitely need to...

Keep writing!

Your Success is My Concern

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy


"You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer." Margaret Atwood

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