Peggy Bechko’s 6 Reasons to Give Up Writing (?)

Pic found at for ironic reasons of our own

by Peggy Bechko

Here we are again, gang, and today I’m going to discuss the possibility with you that you just might want to stop writing, give it up, walk away, move on to other things. However you want to phrase it, maybe writing isn’t for you.

It’s too late for me, I’ve been published frequently, big houses, smaller houses, Indy publishing and scripts optioned. But, you might want to save yourself. It’s hard to make if you’ve invested a lot of yourself and your time into something that meant a lot to you but just didn’t pan out.

So, here are six good reasons to stop writing.

1. You have too many ideas. So many in fact that you never finish anything. You start scripts, then drop it because you decide to work on a novel or a short story. OR you have one script in the works, but put it aside to work on another idea – again, and again, and again. So much so that no one script actually gets finished. Consider: maybe this writing thing isn’t for you.

2. Your spelling sucks. So does your grammar and your punctuation. You don’t want to take the time and effort to learn to do it right or even to use the tools in your word-processor. You don’t think it’s all that bad. You think someone else should clean up all those errors (at no expense of any kind to you) like an editor or maybe a producer’s assistant. Seriously, time to chuck it.

3. There are a whole lot of other things more important in your life. You want to bake cookies for the family. Mowing the lawn so the yard doesn’t look like a jungle is a priority. The phone keeps ringing (or whatever ‘ringtone’ you possess). There are movies you want to see, books you want to read (you should be doing that AND writing, but that’s another issue). Ummmm…. Priorities. If writing isn’t at the top of your list it might be time to move on and stop torturing yourself thinking you should do it when you really don’t want to.

4. You hate readers. Seriously there are writers out there with that problem. They figure the world is against them. Producers don’t want to read their scripts. Editors reject their manuscripts and even if a books or script makes it ‘out there’ the readers are picky and nasty and as a writer (sort of ) you really have a bone to pick with all those readers from the ‘gatekeeper’ readers to the ones at home watching those movies that have come from the scripts or reading on the couch. You loath them all. If that’s you, you really need to pack it in and find some other fun pursuit.

5. You need a vacation. Again, seriously. This one is legit. Some writers never stop. They write seven days a week, all year. They risk burn out. If this kind of writer is you, then you do need to stop…at least for a while. Take a break, refresh, let those stories rest so you can come back to them with a new perspective. Nothing bad will happen. A break is a good thing. Stop. For a while.

6. Maybe you can’t handle rejection of any kind. Then this really ISN’T the life for you. You’re going to get lots of script rejections, some with notes, most without. Editors with publishing houses are going to dump your novels with no ceremony and possibly hurtful comments. If that isn’t something you can deal with or want to deal with, then put down the pen (i.e. your computer) and walk away. There are lots of other things in life.

There are lots of other reasons to stop – or go forward when it comes to writing. It’s really up to you to consider all the angles and avenues.

Just one bit of advice. Don’t stop writing because some idiot on the internet said your writing is no good.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Peggy Bechko on Stuff You Should Never Ask A Writer

by Peggy Bechko

Today I’m going to approach things from the opposite direction of normal. As writers, whether novel or script or some other writing avenue, we’ve all heard a lot of weird questions. So, this is something you can pass on to your non-writing and some of your newbie-writer friends.

What questions should you not ask a Writer?

First – Is being a writer a real job?

Seriously, I’ve been asked that. Followed quickly by personal and impolite questions (after I answered in the affirmative) such as, how much money do you make and can you pay your bills? Answers?

Enough, and yes.

And of course those questions are asked AFTER you publish a book, option a screenplay or otherwise gain income from your writing. My father kept telling me to get a ‘real job’ even after the fourth novel was published with Doubleday and I’d been offered a contract for a book with Harlequin.

He didn’t live long enough to see me option my first script (it was illness that did him in, not me) and I haven’t lived long enough to see one of my scripts make it all the way through production to hit the screen (well except for one half hour animation).

Here’s the thing. Not all novels are published though once purchased they usually see publication. Not every screenplay is purchased and once purchased not all are produced and once produced not all see distribution. So of course we hear the question – “where can I get your book?” Or, “where would I have seen one of your movies?”

It can make for a very strange exchange. And if you can’t direct someone to one of your creations you’re liable to hear the next question – “so, then what is your REAL job?”

Really. Don’t be surprised if you get that one. And to the non-writers or newbie writers out there – don’t ask those kinds of questions from your writer friends who may be a bit ahead of you in the success department.

Then there’s the next one – “is your family (friends plus whoever) backing you?” I think they want to hear no, for a variety of reasons, but I could be wrong. It kinda comes across either like “oh, you poor thing”, or “whohoo, you have a fan club”.

For me, you already heard about my father’s position – my mother was the support and a few friends who thought it was cool I would take “such a risk”. (Well, even fan clubs have their flaws.)

It’s nice to have support of any kind when tilting at the windmill of screenwriting or novel publication but I never think of writers as wounded, needy folks who need to hang on to someone or something just to get that writing done. Mostly the once I know have been pretty fierce and independent…kinda had to be.

Non-writer? Here’s a question to not ask your writing friend. “You write – can you give some advice to my friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s daughter?”

Or the reverse (more rare, but I’ve heard it). “Oh, cool, you’re a writer. My Mom’s neighbor’s friend is a published novelist (or screenwriter or whatever); should I ask him or her to read your script (or novel or whatever) and give you feedback?”

Uh, no.

Another question not to ask. “Oh, is that your hobby?” Seriously?

Uh, NO!

Here’s another one. “My mother had the most interesting life. Would you like to write a biography (or screen script) about her?” Please don’t ask this of a writer, then start pouring out all the details of said person’s life.

Oh, please no.

And don’t ever ask a writer this question. “So, do you hang out at a coffee shop all day using their free WiFi for research and acting like you’re writing?”

There’s no ‘acting’ about it. A writer writes…pretty much all the time. There are all sorts of stumbling blocks and there are also all sorts of deadlines (internal and external).

Writers serious about their craft, whatever kind of writing they do, churn out a certain number of words or pages every day. That’s how it works.

From the novice to the full-time pro, writing is a tough go. Thinking just a little bit before asking a question of a writer friend will cause them to appreciate you above many others.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Peggy Bechko on Writing: The End Goal of Writing Goals

by Peggy Bechko

Writing goals.

The very idea causes many (or is that most?) writers to shudder. Doesn’t matter if you’ve taken on some kind of ‘contest’ challenge to get a fixed number of words down on a page or if your goal is to just find the time to sit yourself down and get some writing done.

Goals are good, but shouldn’t we all consider what we want to accomplish with those goals?

What the heck am I talking about? Well, whether you’re attacking a novel or a script is your goal to toss so much vomit onto the page and be pleased with that? Is it to throw down a whole lot of words and find some words that are actually useful down the line?

Do you just want to meet a word count or do you want it to be somehow useful? Do you feel like you’re a loser if you don’t meet that word count? (You shouldn’t.)

My point here is it’s fine to get a bunch of words written, but even better when (and I’m so practical – this is me) the intent behind it is to create characters, flesh them out, get a plot down (a real storyline) and lay down some nuggets that will pay off later. All that I expect from a challenge, whether internal or external, to lay down words.

So let’s think about this.

First of all, if you don’t make your goals you’re not a loser or a failure.

Learning and improving are two worthy goals that float around that word splash you’re after. Another is simply getting yourself to write on a regular basis. That can be pretty tough with all the distractions we have right at our fingertips and in front of our eyes these days.

My observation here is, if you’re going to take up that challenge, get yourself some kind of plan.

Fast isn’t necessarily better. A script might turn into a novel. A novel might detour into a script. A script can become a great outline for a novel. A well worked outline for a novel might well turn into a script. This is good! So, onward!

Another observation: find when you’re the freshest to write.

That can be tough if you have a job on the side as well, but it’s something you need to find out about yourself. Are you best in the morning? Do you really crank it out in the middle of the night?

Here’s the thing. If you can write when you’re fresh for the challenge, the content will be much better. On top of that your production speed will kick into high gear. You’ll write twice as much and better than when you’re at low ebb. Success is much closer when you can take advantage of your high octane self.

When you’ve engaged that higher octane self and you find yourself able to crank out better work faster it’ll motivate you to do more.

If you check out the writing you’ve done the day before, before you start fresh, things will click and you’ll do even better. You’ll catch things that don’t move the story forward. You’ll come up with fresh ideas that do.

That’s the ideal.

Are you aware it takes 28 days to develop a habit? (wonder if that has something to do with the phases of the moon?) If you can make yourself write every day, even a quarter of an hour, regularly, your mind will remain focused on the story even when you can’t actually be physically writing.

Staying tuned into your story is key. You’ll find you’re even attached to it when you’re doing mundane chores. You need to constantly exercise your writing muscle.

As long as you force yourself to pay attention to your story and not set it aside for long periods you’ll keep moving forward. On the other hand, if you set your work aside for a week…or even weeks, you’re going to forget all the details and end up needing to start all over again.

So, the end goal, really, is to keep writing. To stop making excuses and keep creating. You can’t sell a novel or a script if you don’t get it written. Challenge yourself – keep writing – every day. It all adds up.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Peggy Bechko on Writing: When a Draft isn’t ‘Just a Draft’

by Peggy Bechko

Have you ever – or is it more accurate to ask, how many times have you – spoken of something you’ve written, a novel, a script a short story as ‘just a draft’.

Have you used it as an excuse for something you perceived to be not very good?

Never excuse your work as “just a draft.” It’s NEVER ‘just.’ It’s step one on the road to excellent writing. A draft shouldn’t even be thought of as ‘good’ or ‘bad. It just is. Without it you wouldn’t be editing something and moving on to the next draft.

Here’s the thing. If you’re not writing with the ultimate goal of publication or in the case of a script, finding a producer and seeing it through to the end, then what you’re writing is a diary.

Rewrites and editing are the very core of writing and creating. So, assuming you’re not writing a diary you’re going to have to do both, edit and rewrite. Probably a number of times.

It might be only you going through the work again and making changes. Or, it could be an editor or a producer asking for changes. There might even be a carrot on a stick – change this, rewrite that and I’ll take your novel to publication or your script to production.

Ultimately, when working with draft one, two or three, you need to read what’s been written like a predator. Prowl the sentences and pages looking for flaws, looking for what needs to be changed.

Each draft is an animal on its own. And each draft is where the writer examines and reexamines whether the promises made to the reader or potential viewer have been kept.

When someone asks about your writing raise your head with pride and proclaim, “I just finished my first (or second or third…) draft and it’s going well.”

Don’t ever think, or respond, “Well, it’s just my first draft” in a way that, if it were human, that draft would feel very small and unloved. You write stories and stories evolve.

Drafts, all of them until you reach the final polish, aren’t perfect and they aren’t supposed to be.

Even though there are some novelists and screenwriters who can produce a virtually perfect draft on the first run through (and they’re very rare who can do this) don’t start out thinking you’re among them. If that proves to be true you’ll find out in due course, but I wouldn’t count on it.

And, meanwhile, the drafting continues.

Remember, the reader doesn’t just want to read your story. The movie-goer doesn’t just want to watch a film. Those people want to experience what you’ve written. They want to be immersed in story. And it’s to that point that your drafts, one after the other, will lead you.

Think of your story as being a thing alive. Give it respect. Produce the drafts, however many there are, it needs to fully come to life.

And no draft is ‘just a draft’. It’s a stepping stone on the path to great writing.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Peggy Bechko: Creating Your Best Villain

Could Cruella be the worst best villain in history?

 by PeggyBechko

Villains aren’t just people who run around being mean and slapping puppies (in fact sometimes they have and love their very own puppy or kitten).

So how do we as writers of for screen, stage and print write the very best villains the world will love to hate?

You make your villain a match for your hero. Pretty much that simple…and that hard. Your villain can be a who or an it.

Think about Lord of The Rings Orcs to the Elves or Ripley vs. Alien. How about Kirk’s nemesis, Khan or maybe Frankenstein or the Wolfman vs. whoever. The Martian vs. staying alive on Mars.

Actors love to get these parts. People love to read about them in books. They hold attention. Great villains make for a great read or a great movie.

Heroes and villains work off each other. There must be a ‘balance of power’ to make their strange ‘dance’ fascinating to reader or watcher. They operate as two halves of a whole. And sometimes they literally are – i.e. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

How about Luke Skywalker when he discovers Darth Vader is his father? And don’t forget the current wave of comic book heroes and villains courtesy of Marvel Studios.

The villains we create for novels and screen scripts cannot be weak. It’s the job of the villain to create conflict and roadblocks for the hero to create drama and suspense. That’s what getting lost in a novel or a movie is all about.

If a villain isn’t very strong, the hero you create who is about to shine and show off his or her strengths won’t have a strong obstacle to push back against or who’ll give that hero reason for self-examination, growth and finding the strength to overcome. A weak villain is pretty much ‘meh’.

Something else to keep in mind is a villain has to seem to be, at least in the beginning, even more clever than the hero or stronger or more formidable. The hero has to be trying to figure the villain out and the villain (whether person, planet or weather) has to come on strong, winning for the greater part of the book or movie.

There have to be moments when we, the audience, cannot possibly see a way out for the hero. And the villain’s goal needs to be interesting. His fight against the hero creative. The villain doesn’t’ have to be all out ‘evil’. He or she or it can be misguided but powerful. And, though the ‘clever’ element often enters in, it’s not a requirement.

Think about this as well. Who gets the best lines? Usually the villain (presuming your villain isn’t a comet headed for earth). Work hard to make your villain human, dig deep to find that humanity within and don’t create an all dark villain. If you pull it off it will make that villain even more terrifying than just ‘good against evil’.

Unpredictability is a great plus for a villain too. How better to make an audience jump than to have a ‘monster’ like King Kong one moment cradling Fay Wray in the palm of his hand and the next batting her would-be rescuers off a cliff. Or tossing her in the bushes to go off to battle a dinosaur.

Try to avoid clichés, but don’t shy away either if it is just the perfect touch to a scene.

And remember your villain is no wimp. This guy is every bit a match for the hero in determination to succeed. He doesn’t back down and he doesn’t give in. He’s for real. Powerful and possibly capable of defeating the hero.

Even if it’s a comedy you’re writing, novel or script, the villain, no matter how comically presented, takes him or herself very seriously…and so are his goals that set up the drama/suspense/adventure.

As a wrap up I want to leave with one caution. It’s easy to turn a specific villain into a generalization. Stereotyping can lead to big problems with your script or manuscript and even hinder a sale.

Remember the cold war when ‘communist’ villains abounded? Made it seem like all ‘communists’ were villains. Now we’re in a zone where “Arab terrorist” frequently goes together while not all terrorists are Arabs and visa versa. The writer who doesn’t think things through can punch a lot of emotional buttons. Not all Mexicans are ‘drug lords’. Not all black American are pimps.

If your character absolutely must fall into that stereotypical swamp, then do something with that villain to make it a stand-out character for many other reasons.

Now go out there and create the best worst bad guy you can!

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.