Monday, November 26, 2012

The Importance of Exercise (in Writing)

Just like our bodies, our writing can benefit from flexing those specialized muscles. Whether you're a published pro or a newbie it doesn't matter. We can ALWAYS improve, and that's exactly what we should strive for. So while we work our way through the holidays and all the temptation (whether the edible kind or the time kind), we're going to focus on some ways to work out that won't take too long and will keep us moving forward. 

Let's start with step one: Preparation

Are you a Plotter? Then you've probably got this covered. But Pantser or Plotter, it doesn't matter, other things and people need your attention and even the best laid plans can fall to the wayside, especially this time of year. But if you make a promise to yourself, if you write it down and plan it out, you can find more time than you thought possible. And since this is an exercise program, let's start with fifteen minutes a day. Can you squeeze that in to improve your writing? I pledge to do it too. So let's work on it together. What do you say? 

Find your calendar and dig out those fifteen minutes. Wake up early, go to bed late, take a shorter lunch, whatever it means. You've already improved, because you've made a commitment to yourself and your writing. Doesn't that feel good? Next Monday we'll get moving and in the meantime I want you to fill in these blanks for next week and those to come. Who's with me? 

Character Name:


Deepest Desire:

Deepest Fear:

Okay. That's good for now. Baby steps, right? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Focus on the Positive

It's time to remind ourselves what we're thankful for. Too often we get caught up in the misery of rejection and writer's block and we forget all the wonderful things about writing. 

Here's my list:
  • Writer friends like you
  • chocolate and coffee
  • my laptop (which seems to be surgically attached to my lap)
  • shiny new ideas
  • meeting new characters
  • reading amazing books
  • the occasional "yes"or personalized rejection
  • saying the words "I'm a writer." and meaning it.
Having trouble making your own list? Answer this: Why did you start writing? Tell me in the comments! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Play Around

So here we are in the middle of Nano. But participating or not, you probably know that feeling where something feels... a bit off. Here's where I have some fun suggestions to play around with until you find the sweet spot. 

  • Try varying the perspective. Is it in first? Try third. Is it past tense? Try present. Try something totally out there for you, this is the right time to do it! No one needs to see it but you, though you never know what you'll find works.
  • Try varying the tone. C. Lee McKenzie had a great post on tone. What feel are you going for? Is it too light for the situation? Too dark? Try playing with the setting and word choices to alter this. But remember to make it consistent in the finished product.
  • Try varying the story. If you're a plotter this might make you uncomfortable. But that's a good thing! Throw something in there that neither you or your character were expecting and see what happens. At the very least it will tell you something about your character you might not have realized. Best case? It makes the book better!
Have any other ways you like to play with first drafts? Share!

Monday, November 5, 2012

No Means Not Yet

Ever been rejected? If not, you aren't a real writer yet. It's part of the job, but that doesn't make it feel any nicer when it happens. Jemi Fraser had a guest post on this last week and it got me thinking. All of those points are valid - especially the one about not flying off the handle and sending back a nasty email. But I feel like "rejection" is the elephant in the room that no one REALLY wants to talk about. But I'm not one to ignore large jungle animals near the sofa.

Rejections suck. They feel personal, possibly more personal when it's a form rejection. We are human, we have to give ourselves permission to feel bad about it. It's OKAY. The tricky part is getting past that. If you can't shrug it off, don't. Just have a piece of chocolate and a pumpkin latte and let it sit for a while. But then you have to ask yourself something:


Was it really not right for that agent or house? This is a serious possibility. But if you've collected more than one rejection and if you are lucky enough to get a note or two on specifics, take a look again. What the rejection might be saying isn't "no" as much as "not yet."

"But I worked super hard on this book!" you might be saying. "I had beta readers and critiquers. I revised six times and it's taken me two years!!!" 

Okay. But maybe, just maybe it's still not quite there yet. Maybe, just maybe it's time to put it in a drawer and write a new book or think about it for a while and tackle it AGAIN. Maybe the seventh time is the right one. 

I guess what I'm saying is don't stop working - keep revising. Go deeper. Make it shinier. But more importantly, NEVER GIVE UP. Even if it means putting that book away until the second or third one is published. Because if you've queried 867 agents and stop? It might have been 868 that said yes.