The #1 Challenge Facing Writers Today

It’s not what you think it is.

And you’re already a part of it.

Art Holcomb and I — you know Art if you been here a while; if not, Art is one of the foremost writing mentors and lecturers in the country — recently made a 30-minute audio recording, a teleseminar, really, that ended up focusing on this important topic.

Important, because it can sabotage everything about your writing dream, including your learning curve… without you even knowing it.

Writers are deluged with information. Some of it is obvious. Some of it is gold.

Too much of it is less than credible, and sometimes it is downright toxic.

So when Art asked me this question in the audio interview, I ran with it.

I am passionate about writers understanding the truth about what we do, how we do it, and the liberating, mind-blowing awareness that suffering is optional.

The purpose of the recording was to introduce my new video training products to his significant following and readership. So there’s that, alongside the observations of two guys who are among all the noise out there, screaming our lungs out.

You can listen to it HERE.


Another listening opportunity...

Last April I had the honor of presenting the Keynote address at the Las Vegas Writers Conference, after doing two workshops during the conference.  It was 74-minutes of gut- wrenching vulnerability, with harrowing tales from the writing road that made the audience wince, laugh and generally realize that I am not the grizzly bear middle linebacker of a writing guru-type that I am reputed to be.

Despite looking exactly like that in the video.

I just posted this on my new Youtube channel, if you have some time. It was shot from the audience, so it’s a little raw… as any worthwhile keynote should be.

Check it out HERE.


The Roller Coaster Ride of Writing Professionally

You write, you publish. Then you get reviewed.

You get praised, and you get blasted.

The thing that has amazed me is the vehement vitriol that some reviewers inject into their reviews. Don’t like my novels? Don’t get my approach to writing, because it isn’t quite like what you heard from Famous A-List Author at your last writing conference? Don’t like my analogies and my lists of criteria? Don’t like all the “big words” I use to preach the gospel of craft? (You’d be surprised at how often this appears in reviews… words like “Epiphany” and “story essence” and “thematic resonance” and “dramatic tension” seem to challenge and confound some folks… which to me is like the term “load bearing” fogging the brain of an aspiring engineer; if the language of the craft confuses you — it’s not my language, by the way, it’s the language of the avocation — what are you doing reading a book intended for writers who aspire to write professionally in the first place?)

Last night I made the mistake of going onto Goodreads to see what some of the folks out there were saying about my work. The novels and the writing books.

Big mistake.

Believe me when I say, as gratifying as some of the positive feedback is, the enthusiastic blasters suck up all of one’s attention — let’s just say my evening was emotionally compromised — leaving you wondering what you did to offend or confuse those who didn’t seem to get what so many others were appreciating?

Comes with the territory. That’s the learning here. Not everyone gets you., and not everyone gets it.

There is always a lowest common denominator in any reader demographic — in the real world they are confused by four-way stops and ATMs and still believe in characters that talk to you from the page, telling you what to write next — just as there is often some real validity in the criticism that resides within one, two and three-star reviews, not all of whom are haters.

Today was better. This review showed up on Amazon for my latest writing book (Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant), and it helped me put it all back into a healthier perspective.

Give it a read HERE.


If you’d like to check out my new training videos — there are five of them now, with more on the way — click HERE or HERE (this one is my new site for these virtual classroom video modules).

And if you’d be interested in hearing more about a new weekly Advanced Training Shots for Serious Authors — short videos with bluetooth-able audio (5 to 10 minutes, delivered to your Inbox every Monday morning), offering high-level learning and insight that applies to the application of the core principles, rather than an introductory context for them — drop me a quick email and I’ll add you to that rollout list.

Thanks for listening and reading. I really do appreciate you.




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4 Responses to The #1 Challenge Facing Writers Today

  1. kerry boytzun

    Larry, I’ve known you for years and your work. You’re awesome!

    Writing is about the expression of the mind, and many people are challenged in that department–because most of life today is one of reaction, not one of authentic creation, preceded by genuine contemplation.

    Already I’m typing too many words for today’s “just give me the point, the video, the hashtag, the takeaway, the meaning” people.

    The movie industry reflects the degradation of the mind, as we’ve gone from movies like The Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting–to special effect laden chase scenes for the short attention span twitter folk. Not to mention, the darker the better. Kill anyone heroic and have their dreams die.

    Not all people are like the above, and there is a genuine THIRST for a good story, one that has meaning and a resolution to the problem that made it worthwhile.

    Yet we have people applauding the new “everyone fails” themes like Breaking Bad. Sure Breaking Bad had fabulous acting and touching scenes, but the writers lost sight of who was the most interesting opponent of the main character: Hank. Instead, we have to watch a bunch of chumps as the finale. BORING. And since when did a cartel consist of a dozen men? Take them out at a swimming pool, and all that’s left are the local rednecks? Please.

    Personally, I think that a lot of the flack Larry receives is due to these Hollywood examples that were “popular” but didn’t really make sense under scrutiny. Everybody told me that Breaking Bad was the best thing ever. Well it was very, very implausible. You have Saul, a twenty year experienced money launderer hiding cash in a safe, not to mention the inept protector he had. The guy couldn’t run for the john, let alone fight a bad guy unless he sat on him. NOT PLAUSIBLE for a “criminal…attorney” with 20 year experience.

    You have experienced criminals holding money for guys in jail–in the same bank, in safety deposit boxes. Ridiculous! OFFSHORE is where the money goes. You spend it back in. This is OLD NEWS.

    So it’s acceptable in Breaking Bad for “mistakes” to be the plot’s engine. Sherlock Holmes figured things out, but in Breaking Bad, it’s about implausible mistakes that move the story along. Which will make you ill if you know better.

    Writing FAST does not equal writing well. Planning takes time. But it appears that TV and movies have the writers on a hamster wheel, blasting things out as fast as they can, leaving a plot so full of holes, it is amazing.

    Plus, these professional writers are writing from the perspective and experience of the average person. The average person has no idea about offshore financial institutions, and that they’re legal. Nobody with large amounts of money leaves it in the same country. In Breaking Bad, Gus wasn’t from America. Why oh, why would he put his money in America instead of offshore? Why would a German company be directly working with a criminal instead of through a bunch of offshore institutions you couldn’t trace? Hell, Miami Vice was more elaborate in the 80s. Why would an experience money launder say a single business is enough to launder the kind of money Walt was making? Yet this became a plot point with, “look at the mountain of cash…I had no idea it would get this big.” Really, the master chemist who was always showing off how good his math was—he just blanked out at the money? NO…that’s poor writing…using character mistakes to move the plot along. SNORE!

    But still these shows get votes like they’re some amazing feat.

    I supposed the above is what is in a new or existing writers mind that makes them justify their poor writing, and claim Larry is wrong.

    Has anyone seen the latest Jason Bourne? SUCKS for the above. The latest Jack Reacher was painful to watch. Unless all you want are fights and chase scenes.

    So yes, Larry is on the money. And YES, loads of people will bitch at him, and myself, for having the nerve to say that maybe. Just maybe.

    You don’t know what you’re doing.

    Walter White didn’t. Look what happened to him.

  2. A roller coaster ride is a great way to describe writing. One minute we’re up from a great review or a breakthrough in our story; one minute we’re down from a negative review or a roadblock in plotting. I’m not sure what other profession plays so casually with our emotions and leaves us feeling such regular self-doubt. But we do it because we’d be unhappy not doing it.

    Goodreads reviewers seem particularly tough. For me, Story Engineering was the turning point in my writing, and that’s no exaggeration. I don’t start a first draft anymore without the story parts and milestones mapped out. They guide the entire process and keep me from pulling out my hair.

  3. Fantastic review, and so well-deserved. Loved the talk between you and Art, too. I’ve saved the YouTube video for later. 😉 Thanks for the awesomeness you provide, as only you can!!!

  4. MikeR

    “Gentlebeings, welcome(?) to the ‘visceral immediacy’ of The Internet Age.™”

    However, I would earnestly encourage you: “Do not pay it any(!) mind!” :-O

    “No, I’m serious.” Let me explain.

    When I encountered @Larry’s first and second books, I did it the decidedly old-fashioned way: “over a cappucino, at a store in the mall.” Based on this experience (each time … the second experience being much easier …), I happily forked-over my dough (and, over the several following weeks, “went to school!”).

    Was this BUYING decision ever(!) influenced by “the Internet?” NO.

    Was this CHANGE-OF-DO-RE-MI ever(!) influenced by anything that anybody ELSE said about either of the two PRODUCTS that I bought? … NO.

    Therefore, I suggest: “do not OVER-estimate the actual MARKET value of ‘social media!'”

    My first pure-chance encounter with @Larry’s STORY ENGINEERING title was pure happenstance … and it was $SOLD$ on MY perceived merits of his product(!) to ME.

    My second PURCHASE, of course, was very-much driven by my previous POSITIVE encounter with this same author. At this point, I “sought” the product on the shelf (recognizing both the author’s name and the similar title), BOUGHT IT(!) much more quickly, and … once again, was very satisfied.

    (And I quite candidly admit to @Larry that “I have since held back,” since subsequent titles have not [yet] been “STORY X…”)

    … but have you yet noticed, in all this very-long diatribe, “what ISN’T there?” Uh huh: “the thought that I =BOUGHT= =THE= =PRODUCT=, at any time whatsoever,” because ANYONE ELSE ON EARTH “told me to do so.”

    “In the Internet age,” gentlebeings, “ANYONE on this Planet has a Bully Pulpit.” Likewise, “ALL OF THEM insist that ‘THEY (of course) RULE’ the almighty $PURCHASE$ $DECISION$.”

    But, let me tell you (including you, @Larry …) this: “it ain’t necessarily so.”

    “At the very end of the $SALES$ day,” it really DOES “come down to the product, itself. And to its presentation.”

    Because, ONLY THEN are you actually speaking of (and, to …) “an individual with MONEY in his hands.”

    All the REST of them, no matter how vociferously they “talk about it” …

    … frankly, do NOT.

    … “Where’s the BEEF?!”