#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #5)

It’s National Novel Writing Month and many writers around the world are in gear and cranking out pages! Yesterday, my tip was about writing in drafts–and the quick (and shitty) first draft aligns with getting your novel done in 30 days (although even when I’m fast, I’m not that fast!). Today my tip is for those moments when you feel you might be veering off track, stumbling into deep water, and all the other cliches that basically mean you feel lost and disconnected from your story.  Don’t panic, this counts as a normal part of first-drafting. When you feel you …

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Pump Up the Faith Muscles

I just finished a phone conversation with a writer I know. He is new to writing and he’s eager to learn his craft—although he already understands how to write strong, entertaining scenes. I remind him of this often. Still, he worries a lot. I remind him, also, that his characters are strong and they have suffered and we care about them. Characters have the power to invite us into their book so we follow them eagerly across the most tumultuous narrative seas; characters also have the less-than-desirable power to shoo us away from reading because we don’t care about them …

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Always End With a Smile~and Other Writing Lessons from Puppy Class

Last week my daughter and I and our 10-month old recently rescued puppy, Jazz, all graduated from ‘Puppy Basics’. Jazz, who is 13.5 pounds of clever terrier-plus-guess-what, and my daughter, who is wise and a few days shy of her 11th birthday, breezed through the lessons: relax, sit, stay, off, down, lineup, come, and leave it. I did fine, too, as I am fascinated by animal behavior and what it teaches us about ourselves and others. At the end of the class, as is her custom, our instructor Judy reminded us to generously praise our dogs and ourselves because the …

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WRITING RULES

One of my favorite writing rules comes from Dwight V. Swain from his wise and practical book TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER (University of Oklahoma Press): ” 1) Separate creative impulse from critical judgement. The first a most essential step is to recognize the human tendency to mix the two. Then, walk wise around it. To that end, adopt a working rule of “Create now….correct later.” Promise yourself the privilege of being as critical as you like, as soon as the first draft of a scene or story is completed. Until the draft is done, however, stick with impulse. Let …

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Raise Your Voice to Break the Silence

When states in America raise the cry to censor ethnic studies, I shiver and pray that people everywhere raise their voices to louder decibels in protest. We don’t have to look far to find chilling examples of the evils of censorship. The excerpt below comes from Azar Nafisi’s eloquent book, READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN: “Our class was shaped within this context, in an attempt to escape the gaze of the blind censor for a few hours each week. There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state …

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Shunning the Muse

I’m writing on a deadline these days and, consequently, I’m short on time to blog. However, I do have time to share some of my favorite quotes from incredible writers, editors, and teachers. This one from A Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity: “I haven’t mentioned the Muse, the mythic word for “inspiration.” She is the last person you want to depend on. Professional writers generally speak of her with a mixture of affection and tolerance: Discipline, not the Muse, results in productivity. If you write only when she beckons, your writing is not yours at all. If you write according …

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2010~mind on the hop

Welcome to 2010 and your mind on the hop! “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” ~Vita Sackville-West

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December’s Writing Child…and more

More musings as the Solstice draws near… 9) Know that Creatives need company, we need our creative community, those who will support us on our journey. 10) Understand that books are written in drafts, often three. 11) Embrace the mess of your first draft. This is special, this is the mud and mess of first creation. 12) Invite your constructive critic to join the writing/revising process only after you have completed your messy first draft. 13) Understand that your book may take one year or more to complete. 14) Build a strong foundation to support you so you can write …

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December’s Writing Child…more

More miscellaneous, so-not profound musings on writing: 4) If you are constantly doubting your work, ask yourself if you trust your own creative process. If the answer is anything but yes, add “TRUST” to your daily mantra. 5) You need a safe–some call it sacred–space to write, where you are free from interruptions and intrusion. That safe place might be your office, your car, the nearest library or cafe. If you write on a computer, you need to know others will not be reading your stories before you are ready to share. 6) You need psychic privacy to write–a sense …

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