Tag Archives: writing tips

Looking Forward One Step At A Time

In two days I get to go white-water rafting for the very first time. In five days Eldest turns eighteen. In nine days he moves into his dorm room and two weeks after that, I send my littles off to school.

It doesn’t matter what we have in front of us, as long as we have something to look forward to.

In life, it’s getting an education, securing a career, raising children and retiring comfortably. In writing, it’s writing a book, sending a query and getting published.

Yet, amid the myriad of dreams, goals and expectations we have for ourselves, things can get off track. I’m here to tell you that this is perfectly okay–as long as we keep something in front of us to motivate us. By our very nature, humans need emotional fulfillment. We need to accomplish things–large or small. We need to succeed.

But we often set humongous goals for ourselves and keep those so tightly focused in our minds that we forget all the baby steps along the way. We get so overwhelmed by this seemingly untouchable dream that we lose our spirit, our motivation and our passion. We let this unattainable goal press down on us to the point where it forces our failure rather than leads to our success.

Last week we vacationed with Dear Hubby’s family. All twenty-one aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were there. During the course of the week, Eldest must have heard 2001 pep talks about his upcoming college endeavor. One had a huge impact on him and he relayed it to me on our way to his orientation.

His uncle pointed out that college is like a trip to California. You know where you will ultimately end up, but you can’t focus on that. You can’t look at the map of California and expect to arrive safely from across the country. Instead, you have to concentrate on what is directly in front of you–what you can see in your headlight beams. Because if you’re only looking at pictures of the beach, you’re going to crash right into the deer standing in your way.

When you feel overwhelmed by your life path, what do you do to slow it down? How do you keep focused and keep moving forward?

Curious minds want to know.

KISS Method for Kid Lit: Keep it simple, Scribe.

In honor of spring, Dear Daughter baked a new batch of cupcakes.  Unlike her Christmas polar bears and her Halloween rats, DD’s beautiful bouquet was unnervingly simple.  She completed the entire dozen flowers in the time it took her to decorate one rodent.

Simple, yet elegant.  Elaborate, yet easy.

This KISS method is exactly what children’s writers need to keep in mind when penning tales for young readers.

Up until about fifth grade, kids are learning to read.  Once they hit middle school, they read to learn.  As writers for young children, we need to fulfill all the requirements of a great storytelling, while keeping the writing itself simple enough for high comprehension.

KISS: Keep it simple, Scribe.

CAT’S KISS METHOD

  • K is for KEEPING: While short on words, writers need to keep all the key components of a great story–robust characters, engaging plot lines and a resolution to conflict.  This often translates into fewer characters for kids to get to know and keep straight.  It also means a simpler story arc with fewer subplots.
  • I is for INTEREST: Young minds need to stay engaged.  As writers, we can do this by tapping into a child’s natural creativity and imagination.  The details we provide must be selective–just enough to provide a solid background, but not so much that kids can’t fill in the blanks themselves.  Pick one adjective to describe the dog instead of four.  Use strong verbs that show emotion and physical movement rather than resorting to an entire paragraph of telling.  In other words, declutter manuscripts by omitting extra words and use only those that initiate thinking on the reader’s behalf.
  • S is for SHORT: Short sentences help beginning and struggling readers keep facts straight.  Remember, youngsters are still learning to read fluently at this age.  The front half of long sentences can easily be forgotten by the time kids reach the punctuation at the end.  Shoot for an average of roughly ten words per sentence for young readers.  This is easily done if details are kept to a minimum and strong verbs are used.
  • S is for SOUND: In the early elementary years, children read out loud.  Even in the next stage, kids “hear” the words in their minds as they read to themselves.  Odd phrasing literally sounds funny, while redundant sentences–subject, predicate, subject, predicate–sound choppy.  Stilted dialogue doesn’t roll off the tongue and quickly becomes tiresome.  By varying sentence structure and length, using simple conjunctions and maximizing the robust English language, writers can pen engaging sentences that flow.

Young readers, more than any other age group, deserve great storytelling.  This key time in their lives often determines if they will turn to books or some other activity to fulfill their entertainment needs.  Boring, formulaic writing doesn’t engage busy minds.  Likewise, elaborate writing that is hard to decipher can turn a young reader away from books altogether.

Books for kids must appear elaborate, while maintaining enough simplicity that readers can stay engaged without struggling.

Who are some of your favorite kid authors (chapter book, young MG)?  What do you like about the way they write?  Are their books easy to read on a basic level? 
Curious  minds want to know.

Character Name Calling: Funny, Frivolous or Necessary?

This morning Middle Son asked what his Irish name should be for the day.  His class is celebrating St. Patty’s Day early because students will be home in their jammies when the actual day arrives–and what fun is that?

“So, should I be O’Tyson Wacker or Tyson McWacker?”

Tyson McWacker, of course.  But the more we said it, the more ridiculous it sounded.  Say it fast three times and he turns into Tyson McQuacker.

My Dear Hubby’s wedding gift to me–my brand new last name–has a long history of teasing behind it.  Seriously, how could it not?  Kids have inane senses of humor and love to slaughter names for the sheer joy of watching others squirm.

As I did when naming my children, I consider every single character name very carefully before committing to it.

 Cat’s Unconscious Rules to Name Calling

  • They must roll off my tongue.  First and last names absolutely must flow together or they simply cannot be paired up.
  • They must never rhyme.  Josie Posey is just ridiculous.  Likewise, alliteration must be used carefully–or not at all–because it is sooooo overused in children’s lit and begins to make my ears bleed after a while.
  • I love pairing short and long.  Either via syllables or vowel sounds.  If everything matches, I get twitchy, like I’m back in kindergarten clapping out syllables.
  • Names must convey character via their sounds.  If my character is soft and emotional, the name must sound warm and sweet.  Harsh characters have harsher names, while strong characters have strong sounding names.
  • Nicknames happen if my characters need to grow and change.  I use these to convey their development.  Silly, little Suzie grows into responsible Susanne.  Or, staunch and stuffy Elizabeth lightens up and becomes Liza or Beth or Lizzy.
  • I love unique names, but this can be carried too far.  I try to balance the sound of them within an entire novel.  If everyone has a funky name, I won’t remember anyone.  Likewise, if everyone has a John Smith kind of name, I may forget who everyone is.
  • I try really hard not to start more than one character’s name with the same letter.  Some people are visual learners and may resort to shorthand for character names–ie, reading the first letter and moving on.  If we aren’t careful, characters can run together and readers will have a hard time keeping them straight.
  • Funky, unpronounceable spellings?  No way.  If I can’t pronounce a name with any sort of fluency, I will not make my audience try to stutter through it.  What often happens in these cases is that readers shorthand names–pronouncing them however feels comfortable and will be easily remembered–and then we can’t discuss the book with anyone else.  Because nobody will know who we are talking about!
  • I love slipping in subtle humor or imparting meaning through the names I use.  In my pirate chapter book, I have Mama, Papa, Missy, Junior, Yappy and…Petey the Parrot.  It’s obvious they are a family–an every family, family–and that Petey is just a bit different than the rest.  In my YA, Gemini Baker’s name is tied to the entire theme of the novel.
  • I love being able to spit the name of the antagonist into the air.  Bullies’ names usually have hard consonants in them and are short.  Names I want to get rid of, fast.  Or, conversely, names that can be drawn out in a sarcastic kind of way.  Z’s and S’s are faves of mine, as well as vowels that can be carried long and far when my MC wails.
  • Obviously, ethnic characters deserve ethnic names, but they should fit.  I never throw a token Jose Garcia into a manuscript followed by a complete homogenization of his character.  This is just wrong on all kinds of levels.  Names should match personalities, values, traditions and histories.  Janice is a gum-smacking child of hippy parents while Heidi and Helga come from conservative families who value their roots and what that all entails.
  • I avoid at all costs asexual names, though I have been known to deliberately mislead via nicknames.  But that loops back up to the nickname/real name growth thing.  Will Frankie the tomboy embrace the Francesca she should become as boys and girls begin to part ways in middle school?
  • I do love a name that can be made fun of.  Of course, I write for kids, so this probably has something to do with it.  Names really do help shape and mold the kids who have to carry the burden of them.  I feel that overcoming the emotions tied to this very natural tendency of name-teasing can really help develop a character–both protagonists and antagonists.  Which really translates into a deeper understanding and growth opportunity for my readers.

I process all these in about two seconds.  I never pre-plan names, nor do I consciously consider them as laid out above.  Literally, my fingers type a name and I either let it go or hit the delete key.

Readers, what do you like in character names?  How does a name influence your feelings toward a character?

Writers, how do you pick the names you use?  What personal “rules” do you follow when naming your fictional babies?

All, what is your absolute all-time favorite character name?  Your least favorite?  Why?

Curious minds want to know.

Writing to the End: Completion is the Battle

I’ve been helping Dear Daughter with her speech.  She picked a doozy.  A heated, biased, controversial topic for her original oratory.  One category that cannot portray the depth of her feelings or expose her own personal beliefs.  In short, it’s been nearly impossible to pen.

DD has great ideas.  She has a fabulous outline.  She has snippets of stories and supporting facts.  What she doesn’t have is a cohesive first draft.

Completion of this rough draft isn’t half the battle.  It is the full battle.  Without a complete rough draft, she has nothing to edit.  Despite the fact that her idea is compelling and seemingly amazing in its envisioned entirety, she will never succeed in competition until she gets it all down on paper.

Guess what, writers?  Our rough drafts are no different.  Every day, I have more ideas fall out of my ears than stray fur falls off Sock Dog.  Though I could take a picture for illustration’s sake, you’ll have to believe me when I say the amount is unreasonable and bordering on grotesque.  Every day, I have amazing ideas and compelling characters, yet until I can wrangle them into a cohesive story, the sheer magnificence of their existence is meaningless.

Tape this to your computer.  Completion is the battle.

It doesn’t matter how poorly you fight, you will never win the publishing war if you quit midscript.

What tips do you have for completing your novels?  What do you do when your writing stalls/writer’s block hits/your muse defects?  How do you ensure that those great ideas get written from beginning to end?

Personally, I fire my Inner Editor during rough draft writing.  I give myself permission to insert notes wherever I am regardless of where they fit into the story.  I encourage myself to gloss over sections with the briefest of mentions to transition me from one scene to the next.  This has done wonders for my sense of peace and my over-all ability to create complete rough drafts.

 

Flashback Friday: Paper Fortune Tellers

This morning I took a trip down memory lane and landed firmly in elementary school.  My boys asked me to “make one of those things you do this to” and mimed what looked like a nestful of baby birds opening their mouths to be fed.

Aaahhh yes, paper fortune tellers.

Pick a color.

P-U-R-P-L-E

Another one.

Well, you remember.  Right?  I mean, who didn’t use these to get a glimpse into their futures?  I once married Oliver, lived in a cardboard box and drove a unicycle.  I also had something like 14 kids.

Thank God those little buggers were wrong, because I”m quite sure we wouldn’t all fit on the unicycle.

Yet, they obviously had a profound impact on me.  My betrothal to Oliver came back full force as I diligently folded my square into ever smaller triangles.  Turns out making them is like riding a bike.  Once that first crease was made, my fingers flew across the page on their own volition.  And I haven’t made one in about–brace yourself–3o years.

But the feeling of giddiness was still there.  Once again, I stood on the playground in a gaggle of girls, furtively glancing toward the pack of boys circling like wolves.  Of course, that was half the delight.  Letting them hear our squeals and moans as our futures unfolded.  And later, opening a fortune-teller to discover that Daniel had scratched out everyone else’s name and scribbled his in all eight squares.  I guess polygamy was alive and well back then.

These memories–the ones that ring so true we can physically slip back into time–are what writers of juvenile lit need to pull from.  Only then can we deliver an honest novel with honest characters.

So what about you?  How did you and your friends tell the future?  Did any of your fortunes come true? 

Curious minds want to know!

A Sharp Stick and a Writing Tip

Youngest had it out at the park the other day–according to the mom on my porch and her ice-packed daughter.  Trust me, it’s a front door visit no mom ever wants to get.

Dude, says Upset Mom, your kid punched mine in the face and poked her with a stick.

Now, Youngest can be a scrapper and he–admittedly–has a bit of a temper.  Yet, I’ve never known him to punch another kid in the face (even his brother).  Or poke someone with a stick, for that matter.

His style is more…well, let’s just say he’d throw the stick at you, then tackle you and shove your face in the dirt.  Again, not a proud mom moment, but there ya go.  I know my kids–their perfections and imperfections.

And while I don’t doubt for a second he took part in this playground scuffle, I do question how it all went down.  Especially when he wailed, “But she started it,” as I marched him down the hall and to the door to apologize.

While Upset Mom continued to “just wanted to let you know what [name redacted to protect the not-so-innocent] had done,” the two tusslers made see-ya-at-school-tomorrow faces at each other.

Writing Tip 2011: Do not poke your friends with sticks or punch them in the head.  Because tomorrow, you just might want to play with them again.

Seriously.  I’ve seen authors shred reviewers even as they beg to be reviewed.  I’ve seen the idea of agents bashed by the very people trying to garner notice and representation.  I’ve seen bitter writers decry traditional publishing companies even as they ask, “If my self-pubbed book sells well enough, will I get a publishing deal?”

Here’s the cliché: don’t bite the hand that feeds you.  Or at least not the one you want to be fed by.

You don’t have to slide with them or swing with them.  You don’t even have to talk to them.  Certainly, don’t punch them in the face or poke them with a stick.  All you have to do is walk away until you may want to play with them again.

PRESSING QUESTIONS THAT INCITE LOTS OF CONTENTION

  • Do writers really need agents?
  • What does an agent do that you can’t do for yourself?
  • Can you sub directly to editors?  What are the pros and cons to each of these options?
  • To self-pub or continue querying?  That is the question.

Writers, research your options.  Weigh the pros and cons.  Make the decision that is right for you.  Share  your knowledge in a respectful manner with others who may or may not make the same choice you did.  But never, ever attack others.  Especially if you just might want to be fed by them in the future.

So, what about you?  Are you a professional writer or a playground scrapper?  How do you respect an industry that seems to quash the dreams of aspiring writers with great regularity?  Do you find yourself growing bitter and disillusioned?  Is the competitiveness of the industry and the rapidly changing landscape a challenge you still want to tackle?  If so, how do you go about it?

Curious minds want to know.

Confluence: Characters, Novels and Rivers, oh my!

Merging isn’t just for traffic.  Writers merge story ideas and characters all the time.  When one plot isn’t fully realized after furious bouts of writing, we have the tendency to throw other half-written stories into the mix to create one complete novel.

We also toss characters together in hopes that the minor roles they’ve played will morph into one robust MC.  Or, we try to marry two MC’s into a single entity.  I have mixed feelings about this practice, even though I’ve done it myself a time or two.

At times, the confluence is so obvious a reader can pick out the transition almost as easily as sightseers can see the merging of lake-cleaned rivers with silt-laden ones.  Characters can appear Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ish, while plots can seem like rough rapids instead of a smooth river of prose.

How about you?  Have you tried merging storylines, characters or plots?  If so, what tips do you have for making a smooth transition?  What struggles did you encounter?

Curious minds want to know.

Lessons from the Train: writing and life

Four days in Canada wasn’t enough to satisfy my love of mountains, rivers and wide open spaces.  In fact, it was just long enough to whet my appetite for more.  Our trip through the Canadian Rockies was a look, don’t touch kind of experience, as we spent the majority of our time viewing the scenery from the confines of a train car.

I will definitely go back for a more hands on expedition.  In the mean time:

Lessons From The Train

TURN AROUND: As humans, our tendency is to focus on the view right in front of noses.  At times, I would become so enthralled by watching the trees and shrubs eking out a life for themselves on sheer rock faces that I forgot to turn around.  When I did, breathtaking views of  rivers and valleys awaited.  The lesson here is three-fold. 

  1. Literally: The view is always different when we look at it from another angle.  The contour of mountain peaks changes drastically when seen from the front instead of the side.
  2. In Life: Sometimes we need to expand our vision.  We can’t be afraid of seeing the world from someone else’s eyes.  While we don’t always have to agree, we need to realize that every moment and every event looks, feels, tastes and smells different to every single individual person sharing our experiences.   
  3. In Writing: We must never forget that every story can be told from different Points Of View.  By allowing ourselves to consider the story from an alternate character, we can more fully realize the impact of our MC’s actions on a more global level.  This will make for a stronger story.  One filled with nuances that wouldn’t be there if we wrote with tunnel vision.

LET YOUR HAIR DOWN AND KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN: Standing on the back of the vestibule created quite the breeze when our train clipped along.  Hair blew, dust whirled and smoke swirled.  At the end of the day, I was a mess, but a happy mess for having watched the scenery pass from outside the train car rather than in it.  I also bonded with unexpected people in a way I never would have if we’d all stayed clean and tidy in our seats.

  1. Literally: Don’t primp.  Some situations in life call for casual and comfortable.  Yet, this doesn’t have to mean dirty.  Q-tips and hair brushes were welcome additions to the trip.
  2. In Life: Go with the flow.  If we worry about dumb things like how we look, we’ll fail to experience how the world looks.  Life is not about us.  It’s about what we do with the life we are given.
  3. In Writing: Often times, characters are luckier than real people.  They get to do and say the things we never allow ourselves the freedom to experience.  They don’t have to worry about the consequences the way we do.  And yet, when we stretch our characters’ comfort zones, we allow for deeper, stronger characters and better opportunities for reader connection.

STOP EVERY NOW AND THEN TO SMELL THE FLOWERS: Cliche, I know, and I bet you already think you know what I’m going to say.  But bear with me.  Our trip was a frenzy of travel.  Airport to train to bus to airport.  My rear end gets wider just thinking about all that seat time.  Yet, every once in a while, we had time to stretch our legs and smell the flowers.

 

    1. Literally: Sitting forever cramps one’s style–and legs.  Get out, walk around and enjoy the  break in routine.  It keeps the mind fresh and does the body good.
    2. In Life: As a mother of four, my life is a train trip through parenthood.  I get up, get kids up, take care of said kids’ most basic needs, take care of kids’ emotional needs, support kids in their extracurricular needs and go to bed.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  But there are glorious moments–a snuggle on the couch, watching a humming bird flit from one flower to the next, a morning cup of coffee with Dear Hubby–that lend to a sense of well-being.  We need to grab hold of these moments and hold them in our hands like the precious gifts they are. 
    3. In Writing: Pace yourself.  A novel cannot be completed in the first half of the manuscript.  Every scene cannot be a series of high-octane events.  We simply cannot weep through an entire 400 page memoir.  Pace yourself.  Give your characters and your readers a break.  Let them experience ups and downs and little moments of sheer bliss in between. 

    LOOK FOR THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: I loved watching the tracks stretch out behind the train.  To me, it was almost as cool as watching where the train was going.  In life and in writing, both of these experiences are necessary.  We need to keep our eyes to the future, while being cognizant of just how far we’ve come.  And when we go through periods of anxiety about our journey–physically and metaphorically–it behooves us to remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  Our journeys will always take us someplace new and exciting, as long as we keep our cool through the darkness.

Which of these tips do you already use?  Which ones are easy to forget?  What has been your favorite stage in life and/or writing so far: looking forward, looking back, or enjoying the moment regardless of where you might be?

Curious minds want to know.

 

I Stink: Blogvel Writing Truths

So, yesterday you saw my efforts to write a chapter of paranormal romance.  I loved the challenge, but learned some things about myself.  Namely, I stink.

Much of my Blogvel Life Lessons will be summed up in a post on From the Write Angle (August 24th, I think).  I hope you’ll join me there, as it promises to be jam-packed with awesome information.  Lucky for you, I’ll just share my stinky, lame truths here. 

My Blogvel CATastrophes

  1. I know next to nothing about paranormal stuff.  Oh, I’ve read a werebook or two and have scared myself silly reading spiritual snippets here and there, but never has it been more evident that my paranormal prowess is so…lacking.   What is the difference between a succubus and a vampire?  I think I might maybe have a bit of a teeny idea… 
  2. I absolutely, positively stink at coming up with “other’ words.  Yeah, I totally stretched my vocabulary here.  I mean, how many different ways can you call a monster?  I suggest nicely if you don’t want your head taken off, but seriously, my paranormal language smells worse than a dead skunk.  Twin’gan ka’an?  Uhm, can you say Klingon choking on a dill pickle?
  3. I’m hot.  Under the collar, that is.  And it was a tad bit awkward.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that by the time THE SKELETON KEY made it to my keyboard, I’d be called upon to steam things up.  Hello, I write for little people.  The kind that shouldn’t know dragons create fire in more ways than one.   All I pictured was my mom, my neighbor, my friends’ neighbors’ dogs, etc, etc, etc thinking, “And she writes picture books?!?!?”

So how did I fix my lame-o writing skills?

  1. Research, research, research.  Folks, if you don’t know the material of what you plan to write, research your little heart out.  I won’t tell you what I found regarding the difference between succubi and vamps, just know there is a difference.  Such a HUGE difference I would have been mortified to interchange them.
  2. Be less lame than me when it comes to language.  While I make up words all the time in my kid lit, I don’t have a clue how to do it for big peeps.  I do know that the words need to feel natural.  They shouldn’t stop the flow of a sentence or pull a reader so far out of the story they can’t get back in.  Maybe Yoda can help you.
  3. Get comfortable with your material.  Know that you are not what you write.  Nor does every piece of fiction have to be the same style, genre and age group as the last.  Writing is a freedom of expression.  Reading is a freedom of choice.  We are not locked into writing a certain type of story any more than our friends’ neighbors’ dogs are forced into reading the same old Bones Digest each month.  Said dog can always bury a story he doesn’t want to read. 

In short, writing a chapter for the Round Robin Blogvel was super fun.  It challenged me as a writer on several levels.

What do you do to challenge yourself?  Are you afraid to step out of the box, or do you go boldly where you’ve never gone before? 

Curious minds want to know!

 

What’s your writing weight?

There is a truth in physical health and exercise.  When we begin a workout program, we typically lose a pound or two right away.  We feel good about this and our energy level spikes.  After all, our efforts are paying off.

Yet, this two-day high comes crashing down around us when our weight picks back up and our jeans fit more snugly than ever.  A bulking up period quickly follows our seemingly overnight exercise success.  At the end of week two, we are ready to throw our sneakers in the trash and dive head first into a double layer chocolate cake.

The truth is simple.  Well, actually several truths.

  1. Initial weight loss is typically all water weight.  We burn more calories, sweat and forget to replenish our H2O levels.  All told, our hydration level dips.  We lose a pound or two and rejoice.
  2. Muscle weighs more than fat.  By a lot, actually.  The more “fatty” we are, the less we weigh.  The more muscle we have, the more we weigh.  So, as soon as our bodies kick in gear and we actually start using those long forgotten muscles, we gain weight.  This spike can dishearten many budding health enthusiasts.  When coupled with the third truth, newbies fall off the exercise wagon in droves.
  3. Fat is bigger than muscle.  While it weighs less, it still takes up more room in our jeans.  And since our long-dormant muscles happily respond to our renewed efforts, we build muscle more rapidly than we lose fat.  This creates the sudden need for more space in the waistband as we add muscle bulk to existing chub.

Two weeks in to a new exercise routine and we feel lost.  We’ve gained both weight and bulk.  We are sore and frustrated.  This is the time we need to look forward to a leaner future and hold on to the knowledge that physical health is right around the corner.

Truth 4: Muscle burns more calories than fat.  The more (heavier) muscle we build, the more efficient our bodies become at burning off our love handles and saddle bags. 

We may never actually reach our ideal weight–the one we had in our minds as a goal.  Yet our bodies will be healthier, leaner and stronger.  Toned, not flabby.  Our jeans will fit better and our stamina will increase.

Many newbie writers, like many newbie workout enthusiasts, jump in blind.  We don’t realize that writing is a process, not an overnight success.  Ironically, writing truths are almost identical to weight loss truths.

CAT’S GUIDE TO A HEALTHY WRITING WEIGHT

  1. We must replenish our writing juices as much as a runner must replenish water levels.  Writers need to surround themselves with a support network that quenches their thirst.   We fare better with partners who let us carve out writing time, workspaces that encourage our muses and reading material to keep our minds sharp and fresh.  We need to live life fully so we have experiences to draw upon for story ideas.  We must hydrate our creativity and passion.
  2. As new writers (either new to the biz in general or new to a project), we tend to vomit words onto the page.  We meander, over-describe and populate our work with larger-than-large casts of characters.  During this time, our writing is bulky and heavy.  Run-on sentences run rampant.  Redundant phrases endlessly repeat ideas.  Purple prose flourishes.  But that’s okay.  It’s necessary.  It is the rough draft.  Without this rough draft, we have nothing to edit.  If we give up during this bloated stage of our writing process, we will never reach “the end”.    And so, I encourage writers to ignore the pains of carrying extra weight.  Instead, focus on your ultimate goal: writing a first draft.  It doesn’t have to be great.  Heck, it doesn’t even have to be good.  It just simply needs to be.
  3. Editing is akin to the time when metabolisms reset and we are fat burning machines.  The more practice we get writing and the more we hone our craft, the more efficient we become.  Our manuscripts lean up as we weigh each word choice.  We replace fatty words with more muscular ones.

“But how?” you ask.  “How do I become a writing athlete instead of a failed exerciser?”

Practice.  Learn.  Push yourself.  Every serious athlete sticks to a workout regimen.  They watch videos and read articles on how to improve their techniques.  They set goals.  And when they reach those goals, they challenge themselves to do it all again.  They practice harder, fine-tune the process and reach for loftier goals.

As writers, we are no different.  
 
What is your writing weight?  Do you ever feel the urge to give up on the journey (writing as a whole or individual projects) after that initial bout of creativity?  How do you balance that fragile stage between creativity and completion?  What motivates you to push forward to the next stage despite the frustration?
 
Curious minds want to know!
 
PS: Remeber The Skeleton Key blogvel I raved about earlier?  Well, my turn is up on Monday.  If you haven’t been tracking the progress, please start at Michelle Simkin’s Blog for the first chapter of an intriguing and fun  novel project by fellow aspiring writers!
 
Your weekend reading pleasure: all The Skeleton Key chapters to date.