For this month's interview, we have the pleasure of meeting the published and prolific author, Cheing L. Winston.
Like so many other authors, I have met Cheing on the Facebook page called The Better Writer’s Group. She works in many different fields, such as a director, a writer and a consultant. She also offers help to aspiring writers through her book and a periscope segment.
The Frustrated Writer: http://www.pikore.com/eagles_wingscls
My name is Cheing L.Winston. I am a screenwriter, ghostwriter, writing consultant, film director and novelist. I have written over twenty screenplays and two short screenplays which I wrote and directed that were featured in the Washington metropolitan film festivals. I currently hold a weekly periscope segment each Tuesday, at 7:30pm eastern time, entitled “The Frustrated Writer”. Also have a book of the same title that provides a resources for aspiring writers. The book and periscope segment explores various avenues of creativity such as screenplays, web series, blogging, journaling and many other creative art forms. I am also a writing consultant and I provide services to assist aspiring writers, such as developing a writing plan and outline before your put the pen to paper or finger to the computer, and I assist writers with ways to garner inspiration and identifying your target audience as well as how to market your product using social media and online networks.
My recent projects includes the upcoming “The Frustrated Writer” book and a children's animated series entitle "Puppy Love", which is currently slated for spring 2016 on a local cable channel. I am also working on a new screenplay entitled "Life's Fight" that is in discussion with two production companies. As a ghost writer, I have written three feature length screenplays and two novels adaptations into a screenplay. And I will never forget where I got my start, in academic writing. I still write for several local colleges in the area of finance and investment analysis theory.
When did you begin writing?
Well like most young people, I started doodling and writing poetry at the age of 13 to amass the difficulty of being an awkward adolescent. I did not realize I enjoyed writing until I was in my twenties when I worked as software developer writing scripts for computers. I know that is not what most people call creative writing, however I believe all forms of writing can be a creative expression. Let me answer the question this way, I started my creative writing track about twelve years ago. I wrote a theatrical play for a group of youth at my church hence my creative genius emerged.
Did you receive any special training or attend a school?
Yes, I attended several writing courses at Georgetown University in Washington DC to hone my craft in creative writing. There were screenwriting courses, writing for television and a creative writing book course respectively, and I had courses in business writing that now fit perfectly with my writing career.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspirations comes from life itself. I usually write screenplays that address circumstances in many people's lives. For example, I was a college professor and I noticed many of my students used prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them, hence I penned two screenplays in a college setting about illegal prescription drug usage. The majority of my inspiration comes from observing people, mainly young people. The innocence of life is quite rewarding and it gives me a perspective I lost while in the pursuit of aging.
Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)
When I write, I often use my IPad and iPhone because I like to take pictures often as a way of inspiration for the subject that interest me. Of course the usual laptop and, on occasion, a pen and paper for that doodling I began years ago. I find it is a great way to jog my mind during times when my devices are not readily available. When I write screenplays, I use Script pro and Celtx, Final Draft screenwriting software to outline my screenplay and of course word processor to create a synopsis and story outline.
What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?
The most important things to remember when writing is a subject I speak about in detail in my new book entitled “The Frustrated Writer”, is to know why you write. Let me explain, not everybody is going to be the next New York Times best selling author or win an SaG award for their screenplay. I believe if we realize that upfront, it minimizes the frustration and in turn, allows us the freedom to be creative and enjoy the writing process. The second most important thing to remember is who you are writing for, your intended audience. For example, if you create a journal for your family reunion you already know your audience, so you don't spend months and days posting your journal waiting for feedback from a book club that is intended for friends and family. The frustration and disappointment I speak about in "The Frustrated Writer” book comes when you write a manuscript with hopes that a broader audience will enjoy and they do not. Please remember, it is nothing against you or your writing style, it is more based on knowing your audience and your market reach. It is a very important aspect to consider even before you put the pen to the paper.
What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?
The most challenging part about writing, I believe, is understanding why you are passionate about your story. What I mean is, there are many people who have a story or idea inside of them, but the best writers are the ones who take the necessary time to research and develop their story. For me, I believe every story needs to be developed properly, understanding your characters, what drives or motivates them, what's the journey of transformation that you want you readers to embark upon, and don't be afraid to expose yourself. Even if it is a personal story, I believe you should develop a great back story. I guess to minimize your challenges in writing, research and development is a necessary evil.
Did you use an agent, and how did you get your book published?
Yes, I am currently working with an agent on my animated project. The benefits of an agent or manager is access. You gain access to opportunities and people you alone may not be aware of. Also an agent can assist you with getting a literary manager, someone who can assist you in development of your writing career. I must also say there are projects I have worked on without representation of an agent and there has been advantages and disadvantages with each approach.
Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?
Absolutely. I use an editor, as I believe their skills are invaluable. Meaning, if you have the right editor they will assist you in story structure, grammar, pitch and tone, something you alone cannot do. As a writer, I believe your best usage is to be creative and get the story written while allowing the other professional to assist you from getting your story from good to a great. On my previous periscope entitled "I got your back", it is a segment dedicated to knowing when to seek assistance to get your project to the next level. I have enclosed the video for your audience consideration. (http://www.pikore.com/m/1074657658805801678_1836679467)
My publishing needs have been through self publishing for “The Frustrated Writer”, as it is a short read. But since then, I have sought out the assistance of a vanity publishing company for my next book entitled " The Secret". My reason for this is simply time constraints. I find for self publishing if you have the time and limited resources it is great, with the vanity publishing their is shared time where I pay a little more and the publishers provides more marketing, press releases and online features such as book clubs and feedback platforms.
Do you handle your own marketing?
Yes, I handle some of my marketing. What that means is, for certain projects I have several social media sites where I solicit, my network of individuals and groups for certain projects. But other facet of my marketing, I spend a fee each month for email blast and screenplay blast that market my up-and-coming projects to multiple film directors and producers. As well, I occasionally use twitter marketers to send out my synopsis of my books daily to a few thousand subscribers. At the end of it all, you as a writer/author are responsible for marketing your product, and in "the frustrated writer" book, I discuss several ways to build your own network and do informal engagement to solicit your target market.
What is your best marketing tip?
My best marketing tip is before you start writing, gaze at your target market before you have skin in the game. Meaning when an idea for a manuscript storms your mind, develop a small focus group of friends and family, causally discuss your project without committing the details. Basically, secretly build a consensus on your project, take their feedback and comments, and build your audience. Secondly, causally put a few sentences of your project on your social media account such as Facebook, twitter, Instagram, where you can garner interest and feedback. Beware when you expose your projects. Have thick skin, meaning everyone will not have a favorable opinion of your work, use that to hone your story but don't take it personally, keep writing.
What advice do you have for other writers?
My advice for writers is know and be passionate about what you write. Write whether you get monetary gain or public acknowledgement, because for many of us, that might never present itself. Unleashing your creative genius should be your goal. Why is this important? Because there will be many days where inspiration is fleeting and motivation struggles between bout of nothingness and disappointment. To remember, you write because you have a great story to tell and that you believe what you write will provide inspiration and education in someone else's life. That will be the motivation to continue when everything around signals that you should give it up.
I found this interview very informative, and I hope everyone here did as well. I would like to thank Cheing Winston for taking the time to take this interview, as it was very much appreciated.
Until Next time,