Guest Post: D.A. Adams

D.A. Adams is back today with a really insightful guest post about writing, creativity, motivation, and much more. This is a good one for all aspiring writers (and those who are neck-deep in it, too) to check out.


I’m not comfortable giving advice to other writers.  It’s not that I don’t feel qualified.  On the contrary, I’ve taught composition, speech, literature, business communications, and creative writing for almost fifteen years, so my experiences as an educator warrant that I know enough about the craft to speak intelligently about it.  It’s not that I’m haven’t written anything myself.  I have four fantasy books on the market.  The issue of offering advice has nothing to do with my credentials or expertise.  My reluctance has more to do with my beliefs about creativity and the personal nature of writing than anything.

As a writing instructor at the collegiate level, I’ve always maintained that I can’t teach students how to write.  The most I can do is show them proper organization, formatting, mechanics, and structure.  At best, I can teach them how to teach themselves to write, but the act of composing sentences comes from within an individual’s mind and is the culmination of their cognitive abilities.  Ultimately, only individuals can hone their own writing skills by practicing proper techniques and repeating processes.  As a teacher, I can provide exercises and opportunities that allow them to practice specific techniques such as proper punctuation or precise word choice, and I can show them processes to organize their efforts, but they have to commit to practicing and remembering.

Creativity adds a whole new level of difficulty to writing.  Yes, I could lay out a set of dogmatic “rules” of what someone should or shouldn’t do when writing a story or novel, but the problem with those kinds of rules is that someone will come along, write an excellent story that breaks those rules, and prove that any set of restrictions placed on creativity are in and of themselves hogwash.  Every literary movement, major and minor, has been predicated on breaking the established norms of the times.  Some of the greatest stories and most successful books grew out of an author’s rebellious instinct to refute that something can’t be done a certain way.  The paradox here is that often works that resonate with audiences who want something new and fresh can’t get through the gatekeepers at publishing houses because those gatekeepers are looking for works that fit the norm.  From the publisher’s perspective that makes sense.  They want to make money, so they look for pieces that fit into tried and true marketing formulas.  However, no one can predict with any certainty what will or will not truly resonate with a widespread audience.  If someone could, there would never be any busts or any unexpected runaway bestsellers.

The only area where I do feel comfortable offering advice has to do with motivation.  If a person wants to write because they think they’ll have one of those bestsellers, they’re doing it for the wrong reason.  First, the odds of that happening are bad, really, really bad.  That same person has about the same probability of hitting the Powerball.  If a person wants to write because they want fame and adulation, they are in the wrong profession.  An exceptionally minuscule percentage of writers are famous, and usually in name only.  If a person wants fame, they should become an actor or pop musician and hope for the best.  If a person wants to write because they think it will be an easy way to earn a living, they should probably seek out a mental health professional to deal with their delusional issues.  Writing is hard work, requiring hours of solitary efforts and usually years of persistence.  In this day and age, unless a person is born wealthy, there really aren’t any easy ways to earn a living.  The only motivations that should matter to a writer are either a burning passion for language or a burning passion for storytelling.  A person should only write if in the depths of their soul they can’t imagine doing anything else with their spare time.

Beyond that, the only things I can offer an aspiring writer are some minor tips.  Be true to your own experience.  Listen to your inner voice.  Work your butt off.  If that doesn’t do it, work harder.  Protect your creative energy and believe in the quality of your work even if no one else does.  Love the act of sitting down to write.  Have fun doing it because it’s going to take years of long hours alone in front of your computer to get anywhere.  Don’t waste your time looking for secrets or formulas or self-help books or any other nonsense that you think might fast-track you to the top.  Never ever never believe someone who tells you they have it figured out.  More than likely, they’re trying to sell you something.  It’s all a crapshoot, and if you get lucky enough to have some success, please be kind to those of us who are still struggling to break through.  Always strive to improve the quality of your own work.  Never let your ego tell you that you know enough about the craft.  Most of all, be persistent.


D. A. Adams was born in Florida but was raised in East Tennessee. He received a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of Memphis in 1999 and has taught college English for over a decade. His first novel, “The Brotherhood of Dwarves,” was released in 2005 and has been described as “a solid, honest work about camaraderie, bravery, and sacrifice” and “a very personal journey, more interested in the ways that a person is changed by life’s events than in epic battles and high magic.” In 2008, the sequel, “Red Sky at Dawn,” was released to the exaltation that “this novel thunders along, at times with dizzying speed. The action is visceral and imaginative without being gratuitous.”In terms of writing style, Adams exhibits an effortless narrative voice and a masterful balance between richly detailed descriptions and tightly worded minimalism. The pacing of his stories is breathtaking, with relentless action and captivating plot twists that keep readers riveted page after page. But his true talent as a writer lies in character development. Readers find themselves empathizing with, fearing for, and cheering on the characters as they overcome their personal shortcomings and grow as fully rendered individuals.Adams is also the father of two wonderful sons and, despite his professional accomplishments, maintains that they are his greatest achievement in life. He resides in East Tennessee.


Twitter: @biggunsalex

One thought on “Guest Post: D.A. Adams

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