Starts With P: writing advice

Our preschool letter of the week is P.  We talk about pickles and pinecones, pigs and peacocks, porcupines and pillows.  Not in that order, and certainly not in the same breath.  Yet, like all things, I could string them together into one cohesive theme if given enough time.  I’m just crazy that way.

While contemplating this today, it struck me that novels would never get completed without the all-powerful letter P. 

And so I present you: Writing Advice with the Letter P.

  • Premeditate: Every good story needs a bit of forethought before putting pen to paper.  While I’m a pantster (writing without an outline), a certain amount of premeditation can go a long way in understanding the nuances of a novel.  For instance, I researched multiple personality disorders for Whispering Minds.  I read four books, checked out numerous websites and tapped into my psych classes from college to pull together pertinent info to my story.
  • Plot: Next I plodded plotted my way through my story.  I wrote one word after another, stringing sentences into paragraphs and pages into chapters.  Soon, I had a viable story line with a workable plot–a conflict and a resolution.
  • Progress: Every day, I wrote a minimum of 1,667 words.  While that sounds impressive, it was a self-imposed timeline posed by NaNoWriMo and their annual novel-writing contest.  Regardless of the reason, however, I made progress toward my 50k words in thirty days goal.  Each and every day, I worked on my novel.  Forward motion is the only way progress is made.
  • Perseverance: Don’t get me wrong, there were days I wanted to quit.  Procrastination could have been my friend.  Instead, I persevered through the doldrums and worked despite my absent muse. 
  • Posterior: Eventually I reached THE END.  The backside of a novel writing endeavor is a much cherished success.  Whether our words ever get read by another human being or not, simply reaching the climax of a novel and wrapping up the loose ends is a success few wannabe writers ever reach.  If this is as far as you get in your career as a writer, congratulate yourself on a job well-done.  Only 17% of those starting NaNoWriMo each year complete their goals. 
  • Practice: After our final words find their way to the page, aspiring writers feel empowered with their success.  We want to rush our babies into the literary world.  Don’t.  Suppress this urge.  Quash it.  Kill it or hide it in a box in a dark closet.  Your rough draft is your practice piece.  Nothing more and nothing less.   
  • Polish: After a solid finish, your practice manuscript needs a good spit-shine.  It needs echoes beat out of it.  It needs plot holes filled and characters plumped.  It needs to be edited over and over again until you have clarity.  It needs beta eyes to pinpoint problem areas and help make your writing a work of art–precise, polished, perfect.
  • Perfection: Okay, maybe that’s too strong of a word.  But the gist of it is, if you ever want to go from wanna-be writer to aspiring writer to full-fledged author, you must learn the delicate balance between as-good-as-I-can-get-it and editing-the-magic-out.  When we reach that comfortable place in our rewrites, we must stop the urge to tinker and start pimping our babies to the professionals.

What other P words pave the way for good writing habits and stellar manuscripts? 

Inquiring minds want to know.


13 responses to “Starts With P: writing advice

  1. One word comes to mine to describe how I can get with editing: Pedantic

    Something I have to stop. Not a good habit.

    • Definitly worth a big reminder. It’s so easy to let yourself and your word views into your writing. I know…I’ve done it a time or two myself!

      Thanks for that great word.

  2. Punctuation is important – what a difference a comma can make in the meaning of a sentence!

    Also, Playfulness – when writing funny, rhyming picture books, playfulness is a must!

  3. Patience and Persistence (especially when editing!).

  4. Perfect list! 🙂

    Even though Im a pantster too, I think premeditation is so important!

  5. Procrastination, LOL!!!

    Terrific list. Are you doing NaNo again his year? I am! If you are, friend me! My name is Sunshine21. 🙂

    • Laura, I am going to give it a try, but no guarantees!

      I will definitely friend you when I get back over there. However, since there’s a lot of life between now and then, I’ll put out a call sometime in October on my blog for NaNoFriends!


  6. Pace is another good one to consider. Love the thought of discussing pickles and pinecones, pigs and peacocks, porcupines and pillows. 🙂 Have a wonderful afternoon.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  7. Cat,
    Don’t be discouraged. Your most important job is your kids. You are working full time. There is so many hours in the day.
    Write wherever, whenever you have time. Maybe, the lack of time will crystallize your focus and you will write on truly what matters.
    Anyway, hang in there. Before you know it, your kids will have grown up and you do not want to say where was I when all that happened?


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