Getting a book from your brain to your local bookstore shelves has three really big steps to it. Writing the book, getting the book published,and selling the book. All three steps take time and require our best efforts.
I am currently living in the second and third steps of two different projects. They have very little to do with the ping of ideas that led to the writing of the books. I like the crackle of connections between ideas and the brain tingling challenges of crafting sentences to hold them. What a rush, right?
Most writers like the writing and somehow think the publishing and selling are not what they signed up for and that they really don’t have to do them. Wrong.
Getting your book published, either self publishing or traditional, moves your book into the public arena for people to see, … Read More »
Just in case the muse isn’t sitting on your shoulder, whispering perfect prose, here is a great practice exercise to get your writing flowing. It has three steps: Copy, Closely Imitate, Freely Imitate. Using the prompts below, copy the prompt, then imitate it as closely as possible, then let loose and imitate it freely.
“Now! Now!” said the Queen. “Faster! Faster!” and they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy.
“Write! Write!” shouted the instructor. “Faster! Faster!” And the class wrote so fast that it seemed like their pens had grown wings, scarcely touching the surface of the paper, till suddenly, just as Ralph was running … Read More »
I have seen a few articles and comics lately that talk about how writers steal ideas. It sounds a bit creepy, and it can make us remember all those lectures we got in college about the evils of plagiarism.
So, I’d like to reassure you; it is okay to borrow ideas and even steal a few when you are writing. There are a few considerations, and they are covered amply by the rules regarding plagiarism. So when does one steal?
When I find myself engrossed in a piece, I look for how the writer did it. I hope to find something to make my writing better. I plan to use it, too. Call it premeditated theft.
When I am listening to a conversation, I sometimes write down an image or a turn of phrase someone used. I don’t ask for permission, either. … Read More »
Fred Dearborn and Marti Woodward taught me that it really does take a long time to create a new, positive habit. Even though this new habit is really a good one, and you are committed to it, a new habit is just as hard to establish as a bad one is to extinguish. Who knew?
When I ghosted The Ten Power Protocols for Dearborn and Woodward, I learned that people tend to relent just as their new habit is about to become a permanent fixture. They are just about to the tipping point when they decide that they don’t have to focus on the new behavior anymore or they just decide it’ll never “stick.” They quit when they are ‘this close’ to making it.
Well, if I could add together the amount of time I’ve spent trying to establish exercise habits, I … Read More »
What do writers read? Anything, everything, all the time. Reading for fun is well, … fun. Because we can be a serious bunch, fun is good to leaven our lives and minds.
Reading is research– research into the way others handle writerly tricks of the trade: timelines, voice, person, citations, dialogue, setting. Reading with a writer’s eye can provide your own seminar on the author at hand.
Reading is footwork. What is selling these days? What are the hot topics? Also, how are we punctuating these days? What is up with the third serial comma? Chickens, roosters, and ducks? Or capons, hens and geese?
Reading is stretching into new territories. Volunteer to read for book or story contests. Read to kids in the library. Read stuff you don’t usually touch for age groups you don’t fit or write for. Stir up those creative … Read More »
After a while, it gets a little embarrassing to be unsure of pronouns and punctuation. I hope these pointers can help.
Easily confused pronoun forms:
He She It —- pronoun
His Hers Its —- possessive pronoun
He’s she’s it’s — contraction
It was not its turn yesterday, but it’s now!
Easily confused punctuation:
. , ; : (not emoticons)
I love the rain this morning. The garden won’t need to be watered.
(two complete sentences)
I love the rain this morning, and the garden won’t need to be watered.
(two complete sentences with a conjunction)
I love the rain this morning; the garden won’t need to be watered.
( two complete sentences that are closely related in meaning)
If it hadn’t rained this morning, I would have had to water everything: the front garden, the herb garden, the patio potted plants, the window boxes, and the terraced garden.
( a sentence with … Read More »
Kurt Vonnegut was my writing hero. Anyone who could illustrate an a _ _ hole in a literary novel with an artfully drawn asterisk won my heart and admiration. I read every book he wrote, so I was popping at the seams when in the mid-80’s I had a chance to actually talk to him. Not an interview, not research for an article. Just a friendly chat.
Vonnegut gave a talk at Bucknell University where I was working in the Writing Center, and he wanted to see this thing called a Writing Center. His tour guide had taken a class from me, and he brought my hero to my doorstep. Vonnegut and I smoked cigarettes together (and I saved his Pall Mall butt). We talked about the way I work with writers and how helpful it is to get useful feedback.
The … Read More »
I have spent years trying to find perfection so that I can write: the perfect place, the perfect pen, the perfect keyboard, music, coffee, you name it. It has been fun, but these distractions are just that. I had to adopt a more pragmatic approach to drafting, revising, refining, and editing.
Get ’er done. Set goals and deadlines and meet them. If I waited for someone to set them, I won’t get much done. Not that many people are clamoring for the next issue of whatever I am writing.
Get together with other writers. Share my ideas, drafts, and polished writing to get feedback. Also, saying I will bring a piece to read means that I will finish it. I dislike embarrassing myself!
Send it out. Like trying to find perfection, we can all mess around with a written piece until we … Read More »
The cursor on my screen is not sliding along, uncovering words gracefully expressing great ideas. No. It isn’t moving. Blink…Blink…Blink. The weather is lovely, so maybe a gardening adventure will rejuvenate me. Cutting back the roses and spotting crocus and daffodils, that would be fun!….. But I have agreed to stay right here and work on any of three projects. I have been at this writing thing long enough to know that sometimes, I have to grab the muse by her long flowing gown and sit ‘er down. I will stay here because I have prepared for such moments.
My writing space is full of memories of those who inspire me to keep at it. The cover photo my son took of a great man whose life I wrote down. Gifts from students who believe in me. … Read More »