Last Saturday I attended the second annual All Write Now! Conference on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.
The opening keynote speaker was Dr. Susan Swartwout, whose gothic poetry book, Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit, will be available soon from Brick Mantel Books.
During her presentation, Dr. Swartwout spoke with wisdom, grace, and enthusiasm on the topic of writing talismans.
According to the dictionary, a talisman is "something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects."
Dr. Swartwout shared that during her career she was given the talismans of "persistence" and "crap shoot" by two writers, so she wanted to pass along a few talismans other writers can use.
* Write daily. "Don't ignore your muse." No matter if you journal, blog, or prefer another form of writing, find the will, desire, and drive to write every day.
* Write yourself. "Don't try to be your favorite writer." Write what you know, or what you can know, or what you want to learn more about.
* Never stop learning. Read! Reach outside your comfort zone and read works you wouldn't normally read. Enlarge your vocabulary. She quoted E.L. Doctorow, "Start from nothing and learn as you go."
* Spill it! Write as fast as you can. Let your ideas flow honestly. Don't listen to the voice of your internal editor, or your mother, or someone else trying to filter your words on the page. And keep in mind your first draft is your worst draft.
* Take risks. Don't take the easy way by avoiding uncomfortable topics, but also don't overshare. She gave an example of a man who wrote in too much detail about one of his body parts. She suggested keeping a dream journal to record your dreams as soon as you wake up so you can capture the "raw ghosts" wandering around trying to break through your subconscious.
* Write with enthusiasm! She compared writing with enthusiasm to smiling when answering the phone. Write with zest and have fun. The first thing a writer should be is excited!
She wrapped up her talk by suggesting writers use their superpowers for good, because, she said, "Nobody else can do it but you!"
So, how about you? Do you have a writing talisman to share?