Previous month:
July 2012
Next month:
September 2012

Writer's Muse Guest Post

UPDATE: Links are now corrected!

Hey y'all (I'm heading to Nashville soon so I'm practicing speaking southern) and happy Friday!

No post here today, instead I'm sending you over to read my guest post at the Writer's Muse Coaching blog by Milli Thornton, who many of you know from her presence in comments and guest posts here.

I just used the word here twice in one sentence--my editor would not let that slide by.  Which brings me to the subject of my guest post--how my character Emma Jean and I are alike and different.  I'm telling all.  Well, almost all.  Go read it and see.

**Speaking of novels, and we were, I just announced the next session of my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  It begins October 9th, and you'll be done in time for Nanowrimo!  Finish all your prep work and be ready to write like the wind.  Because, here's the secret--prepping for the novel is going to make it sooooo much easier to write.  Learn more about it here.


How Do You Beat the Writer's Blues?

Here they come again, unbidden. Texture_green_veiny_222530_l

The blues.

The writer's blues.

You're working on your novel and you realize what a piece of crap it is.  Unsalvageable.  Horrible.  You tried to make progress on an essay and started crying because it was just so, so bad.  You opened your email inbox and got excited to see a response from an agent--only to open it and find another rejection.

Whatever variation of the above happened, now you're stuck in the writer's blues.  And it ain't a good place to be.  Uh-uh.  Because when you're stuck in the writer's blues, it feels like you'll never get unstuck.  It feels like the end of the world.  You might even imagine that you'll never write again.  Ever.  We so closely ally ourselves with our writing, that when its not going well, the result can be shattering.

What to do?  Following are some suggestions gleaned from years of dealing with said blues.  Try one, some, or all of them until you get one that works for you.

1. Remember that its all part of the creative cycle.  What goes up, must come down, and so forth.  The blues are the opposite of the elation you'll no doubt soon feel after a great writing session.  One can't exist without the other.

2. Cry.  Yes, really.  Quit resisting the blues and go full bore into them.  Too often in this culture we try a bit too hard to make ourselves feel better.  And then we start to think that we're supposed to be happy and joyful all the time.  Not so.  It's much healthier to allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling.

3. Call a writing friend.  Note the emphasis on the writing part.  Yeah, your spouse is supportive, your daughter a huge fan of your work.  But nobody but another writer can understand what you're feeling right now.  If you don't have any in-person writing friends, reach out on the internet.  Visit a blog and leave a comment.  Drop into a writing forum.

4.  Read.  Inhale more words.  Sometimes we get dried up, having put too many words on the page, and need a refill.  Words in, words out.  Top yourself off with some reading.  Of course, that can also have the opposite effect, and make you feel you'll never be as good as the author.  In that case, proceed to the next suggestion.

5. Drink.  Pour yourself a nice glass of red.  Nothing like the nectar of the Gods to cheer a person up.  In truth, wine has a grounding effect on us, and when we're upset, we're often out of ourselves, out of our bodies.  Or, if you're an abstainer, you might try...

6. Create a ritual.  You might want to light a candle and meditate for a bit.  Or walk a labyrinth.  Talk to God, or the goddess, or whomever.  Do something that will shift the burden from yourself.

7.  Go outside.  Ah, the healing balm of nature.  Try getting your hands in the dirt, or going for a walk or a run.  Rent a kayak, take a swim.  So often we sit at our desks in misery when what we really need to do is get out there and do something.

8.  Take a daycay.  I just made that word up.  It means a day trip.  I've done several of them this year and I never fail to come home refreshed, with a new outlook on life.  Visit a nearby town, go on a mini roadtrip, or simply park your car in a different part of town and see what you discover.

9.  Treat yourself.  I'm not much of a shopper these days, but I still love nothing better than to spend time in a bookstore.  Peruse the new titles, and check out the bestsellers.  Look at journals and read magazines.  I love me some magazines.

10.  Write.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  But more often than not, getting back on the proverbial horse is the best cure for the writer's blues.  Just convince yourself to write one word.  One teensy little word.  There, see?  Now write another.  Now write a sentence.  Oops, what's that I see?  You're writing, by God!

Those are my suggestions.  What do you do when the writer's blues hit?  How do you pull yourself out of them?

**If you've got the blues over your writing and can't seem to get over them, check out my Labor Day Coaching Sale--10% off on my coaching packages.  You can buy one or several, use it now or later, your choice.  But the discount ends on Monday, September 3rd, at midnight!

Image by kaliko.


Melbourne_victoria_australia_1021810_hI was driving on the freeway yesterday, when a car approaching on an on ramp didn't know how to merge correctly.  You know the kind--they don't anticipate where you are already on the road and adjust their speed accordingly.  This driver just plowed along ahead, oblivious.

I honked the horn and yelled slammed on my brakes to let her in ahead of me. And I thought of the days when I first started driving, probably because I spent an hour at the DMV on Friday renewing my driver's license.  (Now I can breathe when I pass a cop on the road, I've been illegal for over a month.)

Back then, when I was learning to drive, I was terrified of merging onto the freeway.  Terr-i-fied.  I thought it was the most hare-brained idea anybody had ever had, this merging thing.

But now, it doesn't bother me in the least bit.  (That's what a gazillion years of driving does for you.) And yesterday, after I thought about all this, I started thinking about all the ways we merge when we write.  To wit:

We merge with our characters.  We see the world through their eyes, become them, totally blend with them so we can write in their viewpoint.  Sometimes when I write, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and will myself, ever so gently to be my character.  Then I ask, what does Emma Jean see?  What is Jemima experiencing in this moment?

We merge with the setting.  This is uppermost on my mind at the moment, because tomorrow night's novel writing class is on this topic. I think its a bit more subtle, but the place we set our fiction (and non-fiction) has a huge impact on the story.  Think about it: you're probably so merged with the place you live, you don't even think about it. 

We merge with our creativity.  This is the biggie. When we're totally merged with our creativity, we are in flow and it is magic.  Magic.  It's the state when time passes and you don't even realize it, when you're one with the words that are spewing onto the page.  It is the state, I'd venture to guess, that we all aspire to in our work. 

And that's as far as I got with my little merging metaphor, because I reached my destination.  So, what think you?  How do you merge with your writing or your creativity?  Is it a worthy goal?

Just wanted to let you know that the next session of my Get Your Novel Written Now class begins October 9th.  You'll learne everything you need to do to prep to write a novel, just in time for Nanowrimo on November 1st!

Photo by SplaTT.

Writing Tics, or What I'm Learning From the Emma Jean Edits

Lens_magnifying_glass_266925_lI'm deep into the edits for my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and some things are becoming apparent.  As in, writing tic type things.  As in, the little silly stuff I do over and over again.  I thought sharing these tics might be helpful to you.  I know I'll be much more conscious of them as I write my next novel.

So here goes:

--I use the word and too much, often a lot of times in the same sentence. 

--I misuse commas.  Don't ask me how, because I don't quite get it, but I think I use too many of them.

--I over do it with the dialogue tags.  My editor, Nannette, is forever knocking them out.  And I would have told you I used them sparingly.

--I am guilty of repeating words.  I am a demon when it comes to this on my student's work, always exhorting them to change repeated words.  And I would have told you that my manuscript was clean, so clean when it came to such things.  But, no.  Nannette finds plenty of instances of this habit.

--I need to write around lyrics.  Emma Jean always has a song for every occasion, and will happily share it with you.  But this does not work because one must get permission to use song lyrics.  And such permission costs one money.  So I'm writing around them.

So far, the issue with the song lyrics has been the biggest thing I've had to deal with in the edits.  I know there's a problem in one of the final scenes that I've got to deal with and I'm dreading that.  But that's still pages away.  At the moment, I'm on page 200 of 374 and enjoying the process.  The great thing about going through the edits is that it's teaching me about my own writing, and hopefully strengthening it.

Tell me: what are you writing tics?  Have you ever had an editor point them out to you?



Saturday Writing Tip: Observation

Binoculars_glasses_glass_261717_lI often talk about the benefits of being present, quiet and mindful--not only as a way to focus on your writing, but when you're out and about in the world, so that you can observe things in order to write about them.

(Brief aside: I'm typing with one of my fingers bandaged after slicing it while cutting green onions for a salad the other night, so excuse any wonkiness I miss.)

I discussed this topic the other night in my novel writing class, and the next morning in my journal I found myself spontaneously giving myself an assignment.  It's an observation assignment, and I thought you might want to do it, too.  So here goes.

The idea is to be present, alert and mindful throughout your daily life and then write what you've observed later, that night or the next morning.  The act of writing your observations down hones your observing skills.

Every session, look back over the day and write two things:

1.  Dialogue.  Any memorable lines from the previous day?  Who said something interesting?  Can you get the words down exactly as they were uttered? 

2.  An event or description.  This can be a big event, such as winning the lottery, or a small moment, like a description of someone bending down to tie their shoes.  You can also describe the sunset or the rocks you noticed on your walk--anything that caught your attention.

The idea here is to remember as vividly as possible what happened, not write it in a gorgeous literary way, because we're working on the art of observation. 

I must confess, when I started doing this, I was shocked--shocked--at how little I remembered specific details from the previous day.  I recalled things in broad strokes, but I want to be the kind of writer that remembers the telling detail, that one tiny little action that illuminates everything. The first few days, I've ended up writing down the most prosaic of lines of dialogue (all that I remember) on the theory that eventually I'll get better at remembering the good stuff.  And I'm using this observation exercise to get there. I'll let you know how it progresses.

Are you an observer?  How do you teach yourself to recall events in detail?

Need some help translating your observations to a writing practice?  I've got a couple slots open in my coaching.  Head on over to my coaching page for more information.

Photo by Gastonmag.

Interview: Barbara Abercrombie, Author of A Year of Writing Dangerously

AYearofWritingDangerouslyI thought you'd be interested in this book on writing, and so when the publisher contacted me asking if I'd be interested in doing a review or an interview, I leapt at the chance.  The book has an engaging format of one entry per day, with quotes and anecdotes from famous writers, as well as inspiring mini-essays from Abercrombie herself.  It's the perfect daily writing companion.  And now, after some background information, the interview:

Barbara Abercrombie teaches in the writing program at UCLA Extension. The author of novels, children’s books, and many essays and articles in national publications, her latest books are Courage & Craft and Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved & Lost. A Year of Writing Dangerously is her fourteenth book. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband and rescue dog, Nelson. Visit her online at her blog, and at her website.

What inspired you to write this book?

The title came to me first and for a while I didn’t know what to do with it. I’d already written two books about creative writing and felt I didn’t have anything more to say on the subject, but I couldn’t let go of the title. For a while I thought maybe I’d write it month by month, twelve sections, but a writer friend said, “No, it has to be day by day. That’s the kind of book I need!” The idea of a book to read daily for comfort and inspiration and company suddenly seemed very appealing to me and unlike anything I’d written before.

Why writing “dangerously”?

Because I think there’s always a sense of risk when you write – fear that maybe someone will deny your version of things, or that they’ll get mad and disown you, or that maybe you’ll make a fool of yourself and expose too much or too little. One of my favorite quotes on the subject is by Terry Tempest Williams who said: “I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts…I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words.” And that’s what it feels like sometimes, a bloody risk to form the words.

Why a year?

Because if you want to write a novel or autobiography or memoir you’ll need at least a year of focused work to get from the idea in your head to the reality of a first draft. Or if you want to write short pieces a year could get you from dreaming about being a writer to actually completing and marketing one or more personal essays or short stories. I think a year is a manageable amount of time for a writer – long enough to get serious work done, yet short enough to give yourself a realistic deadline.

How does your book differ from other books on creative writing?

There are 365 entries of anecdotes and quotes that offer inspiration and also commiseration from a lot of famous and successful writers who go through the same struggles all of us have getting our work done. I’ve always found it encouraging to read about the problems of writers I admire. It makes me feel like I’m in good company. While the book does gives you some advice about the nuts and bolts of writing and getting published, as well as weekly writing prompts, it’s more of a day book - a book to keep on your desk to dip into for a daily dose of encouragement and some company. To my knowledge there isn’t any other book out there quite like it.

Thanks, Barbara!  Now what about you?  Do you write dangerously?  How do you define it?

Fanning The Flames of Your Writing

Bonfire_night_bonfire_268843_lIt's the state we all desire—that white-hot obsessiveness when we're madly throwing words on the page, totally at one with the moment, completely absorbed in our creativity. But sometimes it is not so easy to get to this state. Is it even possible to access on a regular basis? My answer is yes—but you may not want to. Read on to learn some ways to coddle and encourage your white-hot writing, as well as when to aim for it and when not.

1. Know That Creativity is a Cycle

Sometimes you're writing in that white-hot heat I described above and others you're in a more sedate mode. The quieter moments are no less valuable, they are just different. While it would be wonderful to write in a white-hot heat every time you sat down at the page, you'd also burn yourself out very quickly. So aim for the intense sessions part of the time, perhaps during rough draft writing.

2. Appreciate Where You Are

Each stage holds its own gifts. Rough draft work, where you're most apt to be transported away, encompasses the thrill of discovery. But other stages such as editing and rewriting allow you the joy of reshaping and honing your work. Each writing process offers its own rewards.

3. Stay Connected.

Utilize the concept of momentum to power your writing and you'll experience more white-hot states. Keep your Work-in-Progress uppermost in your mind. Work on it as often as possible. Re-read it often. Take notes about it and brainstorm in your journal writing. Keep your project file open on the computer and sneak over and write a few lines during the day.

4. Train Like An Athlete

Sleep, rest, meditate, exercise, eat well. Your brain and your body are your instruments when you're a writer, so take good care of them. It does you no good to stay up late in a white-hot writing session because you'll just crash and burn the next day. Aim for balance. (I know, I know. It can be a goal, a work in progress.)

5. Refill the Well

Yes, I know your creativity fills you up and energizes you. But when you're working on a long project, it also drains you. That inner creative well needs constant replenishing, just the way your body needs more water (and lots of it) every day. Refresh and renew your creative spirit by doing things you love, like taking a hike with your dog, or visiting an art gallery.

You're looking to make a creative life for the long run here, not just blazing progess on one project and then a huge collapse. These tips ought to help with that goal.

How do you refill your well?  How do you fan the flames of your WIP?  I'm all ears.

Photo by John-p.

Guest Post: The Power of a Written Wish

Please welcome today's guest poster, Milli Thornton, who many of you will recognize from her wonderful thoughtful comments on this blog.  I'm excited to have her blogging here today!

The Power of a Written Wish Mill

by Milli Thornton

 As much as I love writing and words, sometimes words are just too left-brained to capture the magic. I guess that's why I've been feeling nervous about writing this post . . . I didn't want to take the uncanny out of what happened by trying to pin it down.

All I know is that I entered a contest here at Charlotte's blog where I was to name a wish - and my wish was granted.

(Is Charlotte magic?)

On July 16 our favorite Wordstrumpet posted It's My Birthday Week, and I'm Giving Someone a Present . To qualify for the prize draw readers were asked to do something whimsical and fun:

"If you could wave a magic wand and have anything in the whole wide world that you wanted for your next birthday, what would it be? Bear in mind, there's no limits here. You could have anything your little heart desires, such as a bestselling novel, world peace, the entire Amazon catalog in a wood-lined room, a Ferrari, a Grand Tour to Europe, and so on. I'm talking true, mad, deep desires."

The prize (eventually won by Carole Jane Treggett ) was a $20 Amazon gift card. Good enough reason to enter, right? Nobody really expected to have their wish granted, right?

I certainly didn't. Nevertheless, I took the time to get very specific with myself about what I would wish for if I could wave a magic wand. I wrote in Charlotte's comment section:

"If I could wave a magic wand right now, I would suddenly understand deep down in my soul (but also in a conscious way that is not at all mysterious or rollercoaster-ish) how to balance my over-achiever side with my 'I love my creativity and I love to have fun!' side while at the same time making the income I desire to make. Income from my writing and my creativity, just to be completely clear."

I just deleted the paragraph I started to write detailing how my wish has been coming true. It was starting to feel too much like capturing a firefly in a bottle. Because this entire thing hasn't unfolded yet, and I keep bumping down another level to find out it wasn't what I at first thought.

I call it "bumping down" because it keeps feeling like I'm falling off my own cliffs of preconceived notions. Every time that has happened since my wish-casting on July 16, I would feel confused and all out of sync - not to mention embarrassed that I wouldn't be able to write the post I promised to Charlotte. Realism would shift to surrealism and then back to a new reality.

I finally realized I was getting my wish, but it was going to take a while (like any good adventure) and it was going to explode most of what I thought I should be doing (or how I should be doing it).

If you happen to write a wish, and if you happen to have your wish granted, don't be surprised if it seriously messes with your comfort zones. And that's how you'll know you're getting the deepest possible version of your wish.

P.S. Despite my careful wording, it actually has turned out to be mysterious and rollercoaster-ish. But now I get it: that's better than something neatly sewed up and presented as a pre-packaged wish.


Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Fear of Writing and Milliver's Travels and coaches writers at Writer's Muse.

The Writing Life: Travel, or Why Travel is Good for Your Writing

800px-HollywoodSignAs I mentioned in my previous post, I'm in LA, actually Pasadena, visiting my dear friend Suzanne.  I'm working a lot while here, but no matter, I'm somewhere other than my usual here.  Last week I was at the Oregon Coast.  Now, neither of these short vacations are trips to exotic locales.  But they are trips.  And they are reminding me why travel of any kind, near or far, for a short or long time, is such a valuable activity for writers.

One reason is because you see the world through other's eyes.  For instance, last week we stayed with old family friends, a large rowdy bunch from Denver who I adore.  And they do things differently than me, particularly in food choices, opting for standard mainstream brands and products.  This week, in LA, its a whole different story when it comes to food.  Suzanne is an advocate of a real food lifestyle, which means consuming fresh and fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir made from raw milk, kombucha, and cultured vegetables (think kraut).  Two different sets of people, two different viewpoints of the world.

The characters who populate our novels and memoirs and non-fiction books all have unique viewpoints, too, with very specific ways of looking at the world.  Travel introduces me to people who think differently than me.  It pops me out of my bubble and forces me to live according to a different schedule than I usually do.  So here are some guidelines for getting the most benefit to your creativity from travel:

Be Open to Anything.  Another way to put this would be to say yes to any experience that presents itself.  Be willing to go with the flow and see what happens.  Here's an example: Suzanne had an appointment with an acting coach and I tagged along.  We thought it was a private appointment.  Wrong.  It was a class.  And I got pressed into service to run lines.  Now, let me be very clear here: I speak in public all the time, and it doesn't scare me, because I'm talking about my passion, writing.  But acting?  This is a whole different thing we're talking about and it terrifies me. 

SunsetblvdnearvineBut there wasn't much I could do.  And I figured, what the hell?  I'm in a building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood with people I'll never see again.  So I might as well go for it.  And I did, even when I found out I was going to be taped and had to watch the playback.  It was a lot of fun when I allowed myself to just be open to it.  The next day the coach called Suzanne and told her I should look for commercial acting jobs in Portland.  When I pulled myself together after the laughing fit that ensued, I actually thought about it.

Because in being open to acting, I've realized how similar it is to writing.  How you have to parse out the scene, go deep into it and figure out the character's motivation.  How you have to allow the character to inhabit you as you say his or her words, just like you do when you're writing in a character's viewpoint.  I may not actively study acting because of this, but you can be damn sure I'll find some books about it in order to enhance my ability to understand my characters.  And none of this would have happened if I hadn't been open.

Soak It In.  To really get the benefit of travel, you've got to have your eyes wide open, be present, and soak it all in.  You've committed to being open to whatever comes your way, right?  So while experiencing different activities, be present.  Watch, listen, smell, pay attention, be alert.  Notice things so you can use them later.  And along the same lines....

Take Notes.  I'm filling my Moleskine journal, sadly neglected over the last month while my spiritual community went through some uproar, with notes and ideas and plans for my next novel.   Because I also remembered to...

Plan Ahead.  The first five chapters of my new novel are set in southern California, specifically, Malibu.  I asked Suzanne if she'd drive me over there if I bought her a tank of gas.  And so we spent a wonderfully cool afternoon while the rest of SoCal baked in record temperatures, exploring locales in and around Malibu that I planned to use for my novel.  Already, I've decided to make some crucial changes in these scenes, the result of being on-site and seeing how things really are.  (The real world is sometimes so inconvenient.)

Be Grateful.  I love being here.  I loved being at the beach last week.  I can't wait until I travel to Nashville in September.  I feel lucky and blessed that I get to travel to places near and far.  Suzanne and I sit outside in the morning and the evenings and planes fly overhead after taking off from the Burbank airport.  They are high enough up that I start to imagine, that plane is going to India.  Or, that plane is going to New York.  And I want to go, too!  I'm grateful these last two weeks have reawakened my love of travel, and it's all good for my writing.

And now, excuse me, but I'm going to go learn how to make raw milk yogurt.

Where have you traveled recently, near or far?  How has it impacted your writing?

**Need a boost for your writing?  There's still time to sign up for my novel writing teleclass, which starts next week.  Check out the page, it's going to be a lot of fun!

Photos from Wikimedia Commons.


Are You a Big Picture or a Little Picture Writer?

Frame_picture_gold_263287_lDo you like working with the tiny details or the grand sweep of things in your writing?

I'm in LA, visiting my dear friend Suzanne, researching some locations for my next novel, and launching into the edits for Emma Jean.  This combination of work has me thinking about little picture writing and big picture writing.

Little picture writing = Edits for Emma Jean (the tiny things like approving comma changes and so on).  You could include specific details, description, scenes and final polishing.

Big picture writing = Scouting and visualizing locations for the next novel.  It might also translate as theme, premise, character motivation, and story.

See the difference?

Little picture writing encompasses all the little beats and details that, taken together, create a novel.  The truth is, novel writing is a back and forth process between the little and the big.  You write dialogue between two main characters and realize that what you just wrote impacts the theme.  You tinker with a scene near the beginning of the book, tightening and honing it, and see that what you just did impacts everything that follows it, all the way to the end.

It's important to be able to think both big picture and little picture, though most people are more comfortable with one mode or the other.  (I'm a big picture gal myself.)  Because if you can't think big picture, you're going to have trouble coming up with an overarching structure for the novel.  And if you can't think little picture, you're going to struggle with writing scenes that make the reader feel like she's there.

Anne Lamott, in her writing classic Bird by Bird, tells of keeping a small picture frame on her desk.  If she flounders in her writing, she picks up the frame and peers through it, reminding herself that all she needs to write about is what she can see through that frame.  This is a great reminder for writers.  And yet, you need to keep the big picture in mind, too.  You need to be able to write the little picture that you see through that frame while keeping the big picture firmly in mind.

It's really not that hard, and I think its good for you, because I'm pretty sure it engages the whole brain.  But if you battle with big picture writing, remember this: it's really just a bunch of little picture writing strung together.  And if you struggle with little picture writing, ponder the following: it's really just the big picture divided into portions.

I'm simplifying wildly, of course.  But that's because more and more these days I'm seeing that what this writing game is about is just writing.  Clearing away the worry and the obsessing and the advice and the critiquing and just writing.

Which is the hardest thing of all to do.

So, tell me.  Are you more comfortable with the big picture or the little picture?

If you do struggle with writing novels, you might be interested in my Get Your Novel Written Now class which begins next week.  In four weeks you'll be raring to go!  Check out the page with more information here.

Photo by melodi2.


Emma Jean Edits

The day came.  My edits for the novel arrived.  And I promptly left for a two-day vacation. Arch-cape-or

We went to the beach to stay with old friends, our daughter and the Most Adorable Baby in the World in tow.  I had visions of myself on the deck, feet propped up, laptop in lap, working away on the edits.  Or sitting in a corner of the beach house, happily revisiting my old friend, the novel.


Because it was way too sunny on the deck for me to see the laptop screen.  And every corner of the beach house was filled--gloriously so--with people. Most importantly, I wanted to be present in the vacation world and hang with my living friends, not hobnob with my fictional pals.  And so I sat at the kitchen table and answered a few emails and replied to some blog comments (thank you, I love your comments). And then I called it a day and went for a walk on the beach.

Turns out I'm not really slacking.  Before I left I emailed my editor, asking her for a deadline, thinking she'd probably mention a date in mid-August.  But, no, she said I could get it in right after Labor Day.  So I've got plenty of time. 

I'm eager to get to this.  As already noted, it's not a huge job, at least it doesn't look like it from a quick scan of the file.  I'm always a little wonky in the Track Changes feature on Word until I get into it, so there's that.  And I did see one comment about an important character reappearing at the end that my editor thinks is unnecessary.  That will require some thought in how to fix.  I'm sure there's more stuff like that throughout.

But I can't wait to get started on it--opening the file was like visiting old friends.  Which, come to think of it was the theme of the week, both in my real world and my fictional world.  How about that?

What about you?  How do you feel about the editing process?  Do you have experience working with an editor?  I'd love to hear!

**If you want to write a novel of your very own, I've got a novel-writing class beginning August 14th.  We'll cover the basics of the process and all the things you need to know to have at it.  Read more here and join us!

(I found the photo on the interwebs, and I think it comes from Tripadvisor.)



Clarity + Focus = Ease + Grace

Magnifying_space_copy_223214_lClarity + Focus = Ease + Grace

I heard this saying last weekend and it immediately spoke to me, as truth does.  I know this equation is true because I've experienced it for myself.

When there's not clarity and focus you get--



--Spinning wheels

--And multiple variations of the above themes

But when you have clarity and focus you get--

--Flowing writing


--The feeling of being in love with the world

--The rest of your life magically working, too

--Ease and grace

Okay, I hear you saying, "I want it! I want it! How do I get it?"  Yeah, we all want it, me included.  Because who doesn't want to live their lives with grace and ease?  Isn't that what it's all about?  I can't claim to have all the answers, just some ideas about what works for me, gleaned from observation of how my life seems to run best.  Here goes:

1.  Work for it.   Just because ease is a variant of easy (or vice-versa, whichever which way it goes) doesn't mean it is or should be.  Ease and grace means that things flow because you know what you're doing and where you're going.  And it takes introspection and perhaps some journaling to get clarity about where you want to go.  It takes some commitment and work to get clear. Once you get that clarity, you can start the focus.

2.  Ask for it.  Tell the universe you need help.  Tell God you need clarity.  And then...

3.  Be quiet.  Listen for the answers. 

4. Become an observer.  Or perhaps clarity will come as a visual cue, you never know!  What I do know is that when you ask for help, it comes if you're paying attention.

5.  Man up.  Once you get clarity, you know what you want to do, now you need to grow a pair and use it to focus.  (Sorry for all the macho phrasing today, not quite sure where it's coming from.)  Does your clarity tell you its time to write a novel?  Now, ahem, you gotta figure out how you're going to find time to focus on it.

6.  Get passionate.  I talked to a former client about his novel recently.  "It's all I think about.  It's all I want to do in my spare time,"  he told me. That's passion--and that allows you to find focus.  And then you get the ease and grace.  Just ask someone who's in the middle of a passionate, flowing, writing session.

What about you?  Do you have clarity and focus, ease and grace in your writing life?  How do you attain it?

***By the way, if you need clarity and focus on your novel, join my Get Your Novel Written Now class, starting August 14th.  You can learn more about it here.

Photo by gerbrak.