Hi writers! Julie Tyler, here. One of our goals at From Nothing To Novel is to invite fellow writers to join us as guest bloggers and share their advice and experiences. Whitney and I love creating great content, and now we’ll be curating it, too! In so doing, we’ll be expanding our community of passionate writers and boosting the value we offer for everyone.
Today, I am over-the-moon excited to introduce From Nothing To Novel‘s first guest blogger, Luis Marin. Luis is a business development consultant, who’s also emerging as a public speaker and blogger. Luis and I met through my writers’ group in Miami Beach. He is delighted to share what it’s like to write non-fiction and learn from writers of fiction and other genres.
Without further ado, Here is Luis’s story:
What’s a non-fiction writer doing in the company of fiction writers?
“You’re the average of the five people you spend most time with,” said Jim Rohn, business philosopher, in some of his most celebrated words.
I take those words to heart. The people we surround ourselves with either lift us up or sink us. Who we are and become is greatly influenced by those around us.
I had two goals for 2016 and beyond: (1) Defeat sixteen years of paralyzing fear of public speaking and actually become a good presenter, and (2) Improve my writing skills, by moving away from the dry and technical style I had and moving toward the warm and engaging style I wanted.
Following Jim Rohn’s advise I surrounded myself with people who had goals similar to mine. During the first half of 2016, I joined a Toastmaster’s Club. Spending time with speakers and incorporating the great feedback I got began to chip away at my fear, and I slowly improved my technique. I’m still a work-in-progress but going through the process validated Jim’s idea: I improved as a presenter and became the “average” of the other speakers.
During the second half of 2016, I searched for a writers’ group, asking myself, ‘Will being with writers help me improve my own writing skills? Will my words convey rich imagery? Will my writing help me build connections with others? Will I become the average of the other writers?’
I answered ‘yes’ to all these questions when I found Julie’s group, comprised mostly of fiction writers, with the occasional poet, screenwriter, or non-fiction writer, like me.
We meet every other Monday, and each time I attend I can feel my stone-cold prose acquire a bit of soul. Instead of telling, I learn to show readers my ideas. Here’s an example:
“It takes vision, planning, resources and action to develop a project successfully.”
“A plan built on awareness can make a three-day trip on one-day’s worth of resources possible. The first ingredient of project success is visualizing the end result in detail. The clearer our vision is, the easier it will be to map out the steps to get there. Will the resources we have support our plan? What else do we need? A realistic approach increases the chances of reaching the finish line. The final ingredient to completing a project is non-stop action. Put one foot in front of the other until all the steps of our plan are complete.”
This break-through lead to another and another, until I started recognizing the influences of others’ writing and the benefits of the feedback we all give and receive as members of the group. Each constructive comment serves as a lesson for all.
As a business consultant and one of the only non-fiction writers in Julie’s group, I seek feedback on my drafts of business development advice I plan to give to my clients. What’s interesting for me is learning from the novel one of our members is working on, the feeling captured by another member’s poem, or the personality of a character in a movie script. Every page I read and every observation I hear one of our members make enriches my experience and teaches me more about how to improve my non-fiction prose.
The words on other members’ pages contain rich imagery, the moments they describe are rich, and reading the personalities of the characters is like getting to know real people. All of these add up to an amazing experience for me as an aspiring writer. I am so lucky to have been welcomed into the midst of fiction writers and other great wordsmiths. My average, as a writer, has improved. I have learned to improve the cohesiveness of my writing. The first piece I brought to the group was all over the place. Over time, my writing has become more succinct. My ideas are becoming more focused, leading to stronger conclusions.
My participation in the group has triggered a new goal for 2018, one inspired by a recreation of Jim Rohn’s words:
“Become a millionaire, not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.”
Being a part of the writers’ group and being influenced by these great writers inspired me to modify Rohn’s words to something like this:
“Write you own novel, not for the millions of copies you can sell, but for what it will make of you to create it.”
I am lucky to be part of this great group. The feedback I get is moving me in the direction of my goal to improve my prose. Each meeting brings me one step closer to becoming a good writer. I am becoming the average of the wonderful people I surround myself with.
Who is surrounding you?
Readers! Do you want to be a guest blogger on From Nothing To Novel? Contact us today at FromNothingToNovel@gmail.com to find out how!
And, if you enjoyed Luis’ post, check out one by another of our contributing authors, Genna Gazelka! She writes about writing literary quality genre fiction.