I have very little time to actually read, so I'm usually apt to grab something on a whim that appeals enough to me to carry me through a 30 minute lunch break and maybe my 2 15-minute breaks (if I'm lucky). Anyway, the pick this week is a book I've had on my shelf for some time. It's Writing For The New Age Market by Richard Webster (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003). For some time now I've been working on the idea of writing non-fiction. As if I didn't have enough on my plate I thought I'd add something else to the mix. But I have a desire to share some of what I've learned and to help "pay it forward" when it comes to what I've had the opportunity to experience. I'm a firm believer that we are here to learn some very important lessons during this lifetime and part of those lessons includes passing along what we know so that others can be helped. I'm by no means some know-it-all-expert intent on bringing followers to some cause. But I think there could be a definite benefit to helping others.
So, (getting back off my soapbox) I thought I'd share some interesting insight that Mr. Webster shared in his book. The first is MODELING. No, I have no intention of posing for pictures or finding my face plastered to the side of a wall or bus. But what he talks about is using your observation skills to model your experience after someone you admire. If you want to write prolifically, perhaps you'd model your writing behavior after someone like Nora Roberts. Or if you wish to create a following of loyal readers you might want to consider modeling your career after your favorite author.
WHAT MODELING IS: Observing, creating skills and practices for success, and instituting traits and behaviors from people you admire in order to achieve results similar to what you have observed.
WHAT MODELING ISN'T: Stalking, plagiarizing, creating an expectation that is outside of your own karmic identity.
I never really understood that there was a name for this until I read his passage in the book. I'd been doing it for years. I started out wanting desperately to teach classes on writing, but lacking the confidence it took to stand in front of strangers and put myself out there. For years, I watched and waited and when the opportunity came to present to a regional and then a national conference I knew it was going to take a gigantic leap of faith and a whole lot of preparation in order for me to give the workshop without running for the door. I watched how other presenters offered up their pearls of wisdom and I practiced how I wanted the workshop to come from me. I actually practiced visualization in order to convince myself that I could do what needed to be done. In the end, I modeled myself against every presenter that had ever made a lasting impression on me and it worked.
Master group is the idea that we should surround ourselves with like-minded individuals with whom we can share experiences and offer support. This is usually a smaller group than perhaps a RWA regional chapter, usually limited to enough members that can be counted on one hand. But the idea is that even if you don't talk trade or critique work, you do find support in being around other writers (or whatever is your goal).
When I read this I immediately thought about the group of us that met after the Maine RWA's recent Writer's Retreat last weekend. In the time after the retreat we all gathered together in the lobby for conversation, fun and relaxation. Yes, there was some talk about shop, but it was more a moment to commiserate, celebrate and just enjoy each the company.
If a Master Group offers nothing else, it should offer you a chance to recharge your creative batteries. A chance to relax away from those who don't understand what you do at that computer each day and to feel at home with those who do understand it. It's important.
Do you model your career or your writing practices after someone who inspires you?