A Confucius Consultation

Confucius saysOnce in a while, research done for my current work in progress inspires a blog topic. And whether you call it serendipity or synchronicity, often a few golden research nuggets found along the way prove to be quite inspirational!

Here’s a few Chinese proverbs —and a writer’s take on them—that might be worth taping to your computer.

  1. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.~ Confucius
  • Whether you have all day to write or only a few hours on weekends, keep on plugging along and one day you will finish that novel or book.
  1. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.~Confucius
  • Write as many drafts as it takes to make your story shine.
  • Don’t give up. Keep querying. Keep submitting. Every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes.’
  • The learning comes with the struggle.
  1. Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.~Confucius
  • Write because you must, because writing is your passion. Half-ass attempts are pointless. And good enough is never good enough.
  1. The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.~Confucius
  • The drive to learn the craft of writing, to practice, and hone those skills come from within. You and only you are responsible for your motivation and self-mastery. Friends or significant others may be your cheerleader but only YOU are responsible for sitting your derrière  in the chair and doing what needs to be done.
  1. Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.~Confucius
  • Study the commonplace. Observe the ordinary. Use words to lift the banal and pedestrian from the mundane. Like the poet or artist, it’s the writers job to ‘see’ and explain life in an engaging manner.

6.  By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.~Confucius

  • 1. Reflect on your weaknesses—be they plotting, social media distraction, grammar, or editing—admit you have weaknesses and then overcome them; 2. Learn from the masters, study their style and voice;  3. Write!!! Better a horrendous first draft which can be rewritten than a blank page.
  1. When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.~Confucius
  • Too often we have fixed ideas about how to achieve something. If plan A doesn’t work, try plan B or plan C. Reflect, adapt, modify, and reflect again. What’s working? What isn’t?
  1. The palest ink is better than the best memory.~Confucius
  • Write crap if you must but put your ideas into writing. “The story is all in my head” ( if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that one…) followed by the requisite finger-tapping-head gesture is an excuse. Stop procrastinating.
  1. When reading, don’t let a single word escape your attention; one word may be worth a thousand pieces of gold.~Confucius
  • Rewriting is beautiful and gratifying. Crafting syntax and choosing the perfect words to convey your precise meaning is a skill worth honing.
  • Don’t skim as you edit. Slow down.
  1. The spectators see more of the game than the players.~Confucius
  • Beta readers are good. Get some. Fresh eyes on a novel is a marvelous and necessary evil. Listen to the comments with care and keep an open mind. Are your beta readers all saying the same thing? Fix that thing.
  1. Every step leaves its print; work steadily and make solid progress.~Chinese proverb.
  • Yup, this is similar to the first wise saying and it bears repeating. The slow and backwards progress of writing and rewriting and rewriting again and again can seem daunting. Remember, even deleting scenes is progress. Writing only one well-crafted sentence is also progress during a busy day when you have only a half hour to write.
  1. A bad beginning makes a bad ending.~Chinese proverb
  • Maybe this is why agents swear they can judge a novel and an author’s ability in the first few sentences. Realizing the whole novel will be evaluated with the first few lines is damn frightening for aspiring authors. Make yours sing!

12. A bad word whispered echoes a hundred miles.~Chinese proverb

  • Watch your words on social media. Much is unwittingly conveyed about yourself, your level of professionalism, and attitude. Be classy. Be cautious. Be kind. You never know who is reading your posts.

Which proverb speaks to you?

Related posts: Readin’ & Writin’; Rock Your Writing

8 thoughts on “A Confucius Consultation

    1. lzadmin Post author

      We all know these wise ancient sayings, yet sometimes I think we forget they’re just as applicable today as they were then. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

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