Help, I’m stuck on the page! — 10 Tips to Get Your Pen Moving Again~

1) Breathe!  Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. (And repeat.) 2) Put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you that there are rules for writing a novel. 3) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). Resistance can swell a bit when the end of a draft (or even “almost-draft”) nears. 4) Know that you are the …

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#NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #22)

If you started writing your novel on November 1st, you are fast approaching your final week!  Kudos for those of you who pushed the edge of the envelope (and filled the pages) this month. If fear kept you from beginning, continuing, completing your first draft, acknowledge your fear and sit with the feelings. Take a few minutes to free write to see if you can focus in on the nature of your fears: Are you afraid of failure? Afraid of writing total crap? Afraid of actually finishing? Afraid of success? Afraid of attention? Afraid of being seen? Afraid of not …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #17)

I listened to a lecture last night by one of my favorite writing teachers, Al Watt. One of his exercises is for each writer to free write about his/her fears when it comes to writing a particular novel or screenplay. Common fears include fear of failing, fear of writing dreck, fear of forcing the story instead of letting the characters guide the writing, fear of dying, fear of hurting others. Then Al asks writers to think about the protagonist of the story and to connect the primal essence of the writer’s fears to the character’s fears. At deep core, they …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #10)

Over the course of writing seven novels on deadline, I’ve found that there are times I need to get closer to my characters, and there are times I need distance, at least temporarily. If you’re struggling with either of these issues, take these tips to heart: More Intimacy: I need to get inside my character’s skin! If you’re feeling some distance between yourself and your novel, here is a simple way to write your way to more intimacy: 1) Pick one of your upcoming scenes, an interaction between your hero and at least one other character. Your hero is the viewpoint …

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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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COACHING QUESTIONS TO KEEP YOU ON COURSE

When I was nineteen I started a business with a partner and we called it “Hat Trick Hats”. We wanted to be portable. We sold our hand-stitched leather creations on the sidewalks of Santa Barbara and on the Wharf and Union Square in San Francisco. We wanted to be free to make our own designs and decisions and we accomplished both. We needed to make a living and sometimes we actually ended the month with a financial surplus! Of course that money was quickly spent to replenish our supplies to make more hats. Our goal was never to get rich—and …

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Writing in Time…

Having lost myself in time–for months at a time–I am sharing words of wisdom from Kenneth Atchity and his book, A WRITER’S TIME. “Like everything else in life, the process of revising your view of time begins with a decision. It’s a matter of willing to change your life by starting today to manage your time and understand its relationship to work and personal satisfaction. Here are some starting points, gleaned from my own experience and that of some other time-management experts: *Stop doing things no one needs to do. *Stop doing things someone else will do if you stop …

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New Year’s Eve…final musings for 2009

Some final thoughts on writing for this year: 20) Get plenty of exercise. Drink lots of water. Don’t get lost on social networking sites. 22) Understand that as a creative person, you will experience some anxiety, its part of the creative process. 23) Learn the difference between some anxiety and crippling anxiety; seek help for the latter. 24) When anxiety shivers through you, open to your curiosity and let it guide you forward. 25) Creative people are curious people; follow your curiosity the way a dog follows its nose. 26) If you have never written a book, know that its …

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National Novel Writing Month –NOW!

It’s day four of National Novel Writing Month and if you’re participating you should be 6,666 words into your first draft by the end of today! If you’ve missed the scoop, the goal is to write 50,000 words/175 pages of a first draft in one month–November. The folks at NaNoWriMo say the focus in on output. And I have to remind even very experienced writers that first draft is not about polish, it’s about finding the bones of your story. Good bones. Strong bones. Bones that can keep on through draft two and draft three and carry your story to …

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