Why You Write is as Important as What You Write

Have you ever asked yourself why you’re writing? I’ve been seriously pursuing writing since about 2014, and there are days when this question niggles the back of my mind. I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions where my writing is concerned, changed my goals many times, sought and rejected help, entertained quitting altogether, searched my heart to determine why I tortured myself so, and kept writing all along.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Show me the money

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to earn money for my writing, and there was a time when I struggled with this even though I was able to approach my writing leisurely because my husband’s salary was more than sufficient. I didn’t have to panic that I needed to produce a living wage and therefore churn out garbage just to make some cash.

I examined the root of my overwhelming desire to make lots of money from writing, and I realized that an unrealistic dream was being sold to writers. It’s the one in which I fantasized being the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, dreamt about large advances and/or Hollywood knocking on my door with movie deals, and imagined that I’d be the next newly discovered writing sensation.

These types of dreams are nice, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and you need a stronger reason for writing. This isn’t compromising or settling. It’s being mature enough to understand that money alone is poor motivation for writing. I urge caution with your writing dreams and stress learning the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

Keep in mind that if you want writing to be your only career, you’re most likely going to need another source of income until you reach your writing-for-money goal. I highly recommend starting while you’re young if you want writing to be your only career. However, don’t be discouraged if you waited until you were older. There are many circumstances that may necessitate waiting, but there are also some advantages such as wisdom, experience, and more time.

If, one day, you find yourself abundantly blessed by earning money for your writing, exercise prudence on where you allow that money to take you. I suggest investing it back into your writing and/or assisting others with their writing.

Fame is a vapor

Fame is money’s wily cousin who can lead to dangers because fame plays into one’s ego. I re-examined my objective of simply writing for the thrill of adoring fans or seeing my name on the cover of my book. This doesn’t mean that I’m against a solid fan base for a well-written book, but should I attain this level of success for my writing, I will maintain professional boundaries to ensure that my writing doesn’t succumb to my need for celebrity.

I strongly urge you to not waste your writing potential on fame. Rather, live your writing potential to its fullest. Find a method whereby you can maintain humility and focus on your craft. Again, investing in others, especially fellow writers, with your time and expertise is a great way to achieve this.

Just for the joy of it

As hard as writing is sometimes, there is a joy that comes from it. You know that moment I’m talking about, when the words are pouring out of you, and you can’t get them down fast enough? This is why I write.

I won’t pretend that I haven’t had to work for these moments, but they’re worth it because writing is a deeply satisfying way to express myself. Every word can be carefully placed and edited to perfection.

There are times I write with the intention of no one ever reading it. It’s quite liberating, and the privacy it affords removes all anxieties and invigorates my soul. It is perfectly acceptable to save my writing for me alone.

But the best lesson I learned was to write without the expectation of making any money. The willingness to share my writing without compensation as the goal produces some of my best stuff, and the joy I experience in doing so let’s me know how far I’ve come on my writing journey.

Answer the question, please

While there is more I could say on the topic of why I write, my reasons would start to overlap. What I’ve presented here are the highlights of my writing journey. Now it’s your turn to share.

So, tell me. Why are you writing?

When You Write is as Important as What You Write

When you write is as important as what you write, but as many writers know, time is often an elusive commodity in the writing life.

I’ve read a couple of writing books that address the issue of time, and the one thing that always annoys me is that the author is writing from a place of success, i.e., he/she is financially stable enough to do nothing but write. And that’s great for him/her.

The rest of us, however, still have regular jobs as spouses and parents, not to mention careers that take us outside our homes. Of writers who comprise this group, I extend much grace to the parents, especially if their children are still young. But hear me, O Potential Writer parenting babes: those little ones won’t be little for long, so enjoy them now.

In the meantime, jot your fabulous story ideas into a notebook to be revisited upon your child’s/children’s growing independence. Right now, the best thing you can do is raise them with love and devotion. This also applies to the writer caring for elderly parents or children who will always be with you due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Grace and peace to you as you set aside your dream for just a little while. I promise it will be waiting for you when the time is right.

Probably everyone who reads this post is old enough to remember his/her childhood when the days seemed endless, and sometimes, they even became boring because we exhausted all the great, fun things we wanted to do. Of course, we also know that the days aren’t any shorter now. We’re just busier with all the activities vying for our time and attention.

Gaining time at this stage of the game is a matter of prioritizing activities. I find that a calendar helps. Start by blocking off chunks of time when you’re required to complete non-writing activities (outside-the-home job, shopping, mowing, laundry, bills, cooking, etc.) and see what’s left. Analyze how well you’re doing some of these tasks and strive to do them better. Example: instead of running to the grocery store every time you need something, make a list and shop all at once. It really is that easy, and the minutes you’ll gain add up.

You’re going to have to sacrifice to make time for yourself, too. The first place you can do this is by cutting the amount of time you spend on social media. It’s crazy how much time we give to scrolling through nonsense that adds nothing of any value to our lives. Yes, it’s fun but pay attention to how long you’re actually on social media. It follows us everywhere, and like slaves, we attend every beep on our cell phones as if we absolutely must respond to that cute kitten picture or comment on the recipe for a triple-stack burger with peanut butter and jelly.

In fact, because writing is such hard work that requires a large amount of focus, you may need to separate yourself from technology for awhile until you have established good writing habits.

Giving up television is another way you can gain large amounts of time. TV has become as invasive as social media in that it’s possible to watch your favorite shows everywhere. I include the endless quantity of videos watched on YouTube in this category. Now that we live in the age of on-demand viewing, TV/YouTube/any streaming service needs to be monitored lest it continue to consume our lives.

Another time saving/time gaining measure is the ability to say, “No, thank you.” By this I mean choose what invitations you allow to take you away from your writing. This one requires some tactful maneuvering on your part, especially when the invitation is to a family function. Grandma’s 99th birthday party? Yes, you must go. Uncle Jimmy opening the pool for the season? You can miss that.

You may need to be strong with friends who don’t understand your commitment to writing. Multiple coffee dates, long phone chats, and just hanging out can chew through your writing time faster than hungry teenage boys through a pizza. Instead, schedule a dinner date with a group of friends to maintain your relationships.

So, you’ve bought back some time for yourself, but guess what? There’s still more to be had!

I find travelling with a single-subject, college-ruled, spiral-bound notebook and pen to be a lifesaver. This is especially true when I must leave the house in the middle of a fabulous writing session and I don’t want to lose the flow of the story. My husband drives and I write.

I also keep pens or pencils and notebooks around the house for the same purpose. While working in the basement, I’ve maintained the flow of my story by jotting down details in between folding t-shirts.

Enlist the help of others toward building your writing time. Politely explain your need and work out times when you can create uninterrupted. Even fifteen minutes a day can go a long way to building your writing confidence. To minimize the amount of time it takes to get back into the groove for your next session, quickly note the next idea in your chain of thought. You can use it as a launching point rather than scrambling to remember what you intended to write next.

There’s always getting up half an hour earlier or going to bed half an hour later, but I urge caution here because sleep is so essential in our 24/7 world. Then again, if you’re at the age where you’re awake for long periods of time through the night, grab that notebook beside your bed and jot something down. Remember to be considerate of the person who may be sleeping next you to.

Make good use of the recording feature on your cell phone while walking the dog or rocking the baby to sleep. Your speaking voice will soothe both.

Ask someone to take dictation when you’re elbow deep in a sink full of dishes or while your grease-stained hands are working under the hood of your vehicle. This is a great way to get words on the page as well as draw loved ones into your writing process. Not only will they come to understand your vision, but they’ll also get to spend time with you in a way that is productive rather than interruptive.

So, you see, there are many ways to accumulate time for your writing passion. Again, writing is hard work, and one way in which you may feel as if you’re wasting your own time is when you find yourself staring at the blank page or computer screen without having produced a single word. In this instance, you’re going to have to extend yourself some grace. It happens to every writer.

I will caution you against believing that it’s writer’s block. In truth, you haven’t found your groove yet, the muse isn’t speaking, or you’re a little unfocused. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t stop writing. Try again the next time you’ve scheduled yourself to write or the moment presents itself.

How You Write is as Important as What You Write

This post was going to appear a little later in my writing series, but thanks to Arthur Miller, who was in the same vein of thought as me, we’re jumping into the how of writing. You can enjoy Art’s story, and once you do, you’ll probably see why he thought how one writes is as important as where one writes.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the how of writing has to do with the writing instrument you’ve chosen to use. You probably didn’t think it was any big deal, right? Just jot some scribbles on the page and call it a day. Sometimes, that really is how it must be. I’ll admit that many short stories were written on McDonald’s napkins with a goopy ink pen rummaged from the bottom of my mom’s purse while we drank coffee.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m going to assume you’ve done yourself the enormous favor of creating your writing environment in an effort to nurture your writing muse as she whispers to you. This is a calmer scenario where you can decide what you want to hold in your hand as you create writing gold. There are a couple approaches to this.

Go Elegant or Go Home

This is where my friend, Art, comes in. Art creates gorgeous fountain pens, rollerball pens, and refillable ink pens. There is something about holding one of these affordable treasures in your hand that inspires writing in ways that a Bic pen just doesn’t. I promise you’ll feel more connected to your craft because you’ll want to write something worthy of the pen! Even if you’re crossing out a portion you don’t care for, you’ll enjoy doing so with ink in your personal color preference. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself fantasizing about using your classy pen to autograph your published book.

Keep It Simple

Let’s not forget the humble pencil, however. Whether you enjoy a refillable mechanical or a good ole wooden No. 2, pencils lend that forgiving quality to your writing known as the eraser. Just make that purple prose disappear for good with a couple abrasive scrubs across your paper. What’s more, use your pencil on paper that has a good tooth, i.e., a little grain to the page. The sound of a pencil scratching across gritty paper is the sound of progress being made. You’ll come to love it.

Not This Time, ThinkPad

Did you notice I haven’t mentioned creating straight to a laptop? Technology has its place in the writing process but allow me to share a bit of advice. Using a pen or pencil to write will slow you down, and that’s a good thing, especially in the initial stages of your work in progress. We’re so afraid we’re going to forget a great piece of writing when, in fact, what we’ve failed to do is get our thoughts in order. Bullet point your ideas, organize them, and write in longhand or, if you truly want to sharpen your focus, print in all capital letters. This technique will help you find your groove.

Let me know in the comments which you prefer for capturing that next great piece of writing—pens or pencils.

Where You Write is as Important as What You Write

Have you created your writing environment yet? I’m speaking to new writers who may not know how beneficial this is, and I’m speaking to established writers who may need a recharge. Writing comfort is essential to your creative process, but the definition of comfort means different things to different people. You may need to try a few combinations before you decide on one.

I strongly suggest supportive seating whether it’s the easy chair in your living room or the straight-backed wooded chair at your kitchen table. Make sure it’s seating that you can stay in for a decent length of time.

Not exactly what I had in mind, Duncan!

Writing surfaces need to be taken into consideration, too. I love my lap desk because it puts everything at the correct height, but sometimes I’d like to not have to worry about balancing it. I’m currently on the hunt for a desk that is not higher than my lap when seated. This will eliminate much of the neck and arm strain I’m experiencing. I find most tables and desks require me to reach too far forward or upward and tilt my head at an unnatural angle for my eyes to meet my laptop screen.

Don’t forget to stand and stretch after long periods of writing, an exercise more easily done in private than public places.

Eliminating distractions is crucial to your writing practice. I find the Internet and social media to be the worst diversions because they make so many seemingly harmless interruptions easily accessible, dropping them right at my fingertips. Especially articles about British royals.

On the other hand, my laptop and Bose speakers deliver an endless supply of classical music via Sirius XM as well as custom-made playlists based on characters and scenes. Music with lyrics, however, is banished because I cannot think with someone else’s words in my head, and I enjoy singing along too much. Although, when the 1812 Overture comes on, I will stop writing long enough to direct. It’s quite a sight.

As much as I love being around people, having fewer folks present when I’m writing means fewer interruptions. That does not mean I won’t stop writing to attend to friends’ and family members’ needs; service to others most definitely takes precedence. I’m talking about writing in coffee shops, which doesn’t work for me because the constant flow of people and music with lyrics requires too much of my focus to force them into the background. If you’re able to block out the cacophony or dismiss it as white noise, I say go for it.

Keep one thing in mind, though. You’ll want to write somewhere that allows you to have a restroom break without the fear of having your laptop, notebooks, and writing instruments stolen when you step away. I have had to pack up everything to hustle to the ladies’ room. It’s not the responsibility of the staff to watch your stuff. With that being said, I find libraries to be safer havens full of willing staff members who will watch over your things when you need to slip away for a potty break.

Don’ neglect the importance of good lighting when writing. While I love the ambience my Himalayan salt lamp provides, more sufficient lighting is employed to ensure I don’t strain my peepers. You may need to switch out bulbs in your home to achieve the right balance of brightness and softness. Don’t forget to take eye breaks if working on a laptop and blink often to lubricate your eyes.

If you prefer natural daylight, keep a pair of sunglasses handy even if you’re working inside and stop when the light becomes too dim. As pleasant as campfires are, they don’t provide consistent, bright light. Exercise caution there.

Keep your favorite foods/snacks close at hand to reduce the times you need to go in search of sustenance. If you choose to write at a restaurant or coffee shop, keep in mind that purchasing food and beverages is kind of expected, and that can become expensive. At home, you have access to food, but don’t fall into grazing instead of writing. I find eating a healthy meal keeps me focused, but I also like to keep a cup of tea nearby to soothe and inspire. Black licorice is my treat during and reward for a productive writing session.

Temperature is another key factor to your writing environment. There’s nothing worse than slogging through a writing session while perspiring or having your fingers cramp from the cold. Working at home puts you in charge of the thermostat while layering your clothes keeps things comfortable when writing out and about.

Again, you’ll probably need to change it up a few times until you settle into your perfect writing zone, so have fun with it. Let me know in the comments where you do our most productive writing.

Soul Talk

I’d like to apologize to my followers for not posting anything new in about three weeks. It’s been a very strange time for me as I dealt with some health issues and the blessed busyness of the fall Appointed Times.

During the past weeks, one thought has been at the forefront of my mind, and I’d like to share it not only as a reminder for myself, but because someone else out there may need to hear it:

Walk away from that which does not feed your soul.

It sounds so simple on the surface, but you would be amazed how much garbage we allow to become entwined in our lives. I’ll never forget my first lesson in how the secular almost worked its way soul deep.

Please know that I’m not the type of person who looks for the bad in everything. Still, it took three tries for me to get a seemingly harmless situation out of my life.

Several years ago, I was invited to join a group with whom I shared a similar interest. It was a truly thoughtful gesture that I gladly and appreciatively accepted. Everything was great for quite a while, and the best part was that it was an all-female group, so naturally the conversation turned to lots of sharing about subjects other than our similar interest. I would have preferred more focused sessions, but since I was a fringe guest trying to fit in, I rolled with it.

But occasionally, the personal tidbits included things that were not only unrelated to our similar interest, but they were also confidences I did not want to carry for people with whom I did not share a connection beyond our purpose for attending the group. I felt very uncomfortable, and I started to see a negative theme emerging, one for which I did not have a label at the time.

And then the text that ended it all arrived one day.

It included a hashtag that literally made me flinch. It was just so unexpected that it had to have been made in jest. Just to make sure, I mentioned it to my mother because I still run things by my mom. She expressed much concern and suggested I politely bow out.

Which I didn’t because it’s my mom, and I thought she was overreacting.

So, I sat on the issue until I casually brought it up to two friends whose opinions I also trust. Their reaction was on par with a nuclear explosion. I was told—yes, told—to get out of that group for valid reasons upon which they expounded with love and not a little passion. I was stunned, and, I admit, I felt like an idiot.

But I’m so slick that I thought I’d just take a break, which I stated in the parting e-mail I sent to the other members. I said I was going to pursue other things and that my life was going in a different direction. I was wished well, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

I had every intention of rejoining the group after a couple months, and I planned on maintaining a connection via the group’s Facebook page. Adonai had other plans for me. I’d been told twice by three different people of the potential dangers, and still I thought I could fly under Adonai’s radar.

What finally got through to me was being immediately deleted from the Facebook group. While it hurt on the surface, it was the one rap on the head that made me understand in my heart that there was no foundation with what I’d been involved. I heard Adonai tell me, “I don’t want you there. You are not going back.”

I realized I’d been lying to myself about the other things I said I was going to pursue. Things of a much deeper, lasting nature. I felt so convicted that I took the different path that, for a short time, seemed as if it routed me away from my interest and, in truth, landed me right back where I longed to be with a better understanding of how to pursue my desires.

I wish the members of the group well, and I hope they achieve real success in every aspect of their lives. I certainly bear them no ill will. There’s no reason to, especially since I can look back and see how far I’ve come by walking through the doors Adonai has opened for me instead of banging on the ones He closed.

Writing Exercises

Writing books are replete with exercises meant to jumpstart your creativity. Even authors who write their memoirs can’t seem to resist mentioning the exercise that helped them. Whether the exercise is meant to focus your concentration or crowbar you out of a slump, I find writing exercises to be, well . . . tedious and annoying.

I remember a daily exercise where for one minute I wrote down the first ten things that came to mind. Then, no matter what the third thing was (or maybe it was the seventh), I spent another ten minutes writing about it.

I don’t know about you, but first thing in the morning my mind is creating a to-do list for the rest of the day, sometimes the week. My list often included thoughts such as take something out of the freezer for dinner, clean the litter box, and wash a load of jeans. Not exactly ideas worthy of ten minutes elucidation.

Needless to say, and yet I’m going to, I quickly tired of the exercise and abandoned it faster than a Spanx bodysuit in the women’s dressing room.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try an exercise or two, and maybe they really have worked for someone, in which case I’d love to hear from you about the exercise and who suggested it. Don’t forget to include your results.

I have chosen a different approach to keep myself writing while larger works, like my novels and blog posts, swirl about my mind waiting to crystalize into something I can put on the page. For example, yesterday I left the laptop, pencils, and notebooks behind to spend the day with my grandbaby, Jacob. My writing flourished from the exercise.

I started by creating memories that don’t have to be edited because they’re already perfect, and now I can accurately describe a four-year-old’s laughter. It is pure sunshine. Then there are his little hands, more delicate than a bird’s wing and softer than a baby rabbit. Don’t forget his rubber band arms that he throws around my neck and noodle legs that he uses to run like a frisky colt.

And then there are his eyes, the color of melted chocolate; his eyebrows, pencil-thin and able to move independently of each other to express an array of emotions; or his knees, dappled blue and purple with a plethora of bruises.

His voice babbles like a little stream and makes about as much sense, his toes look like pink corn niblets, and his sweet head smells like warm grass.

So you see, I did write yesterday. I worked on description because there was way too much dialog to capture and most of it was delivered between fits of giggles and squealing. We do love a good game of tickle. Maybe I’ll recall this and use it in a story someday, maybe not. It really doesn’t matter as long as I keep at my writing.

Today, when Jacob is en route to his home in another state, I’ll return to the laptop, pencils, and notebooks. If I’m lucky, what I write then will be as perfect as what I wrote when I was with him.

Failing Out Loud

I remember the day I officially launched my writing blog. I went to Facebook and created a post telling everyone where to find me. Then with my finger hovering over the mouse to click post, fear paralyzed me. I realized that from the moment I told everyone I was, and still am, a writer that they would closely watch everything I do. My writing life would be made public. Every success and—gasp—failure would be on display for the entire world to see. It’s no wonder I hesitated.

Then my dear aunt told me to go for it. So I did. What a roller coaster ride it’s been as I dealt with the good and bad of the writing life. I worked hard, did everything right, and my novel didn’t get published. All I could think of was that I had failed out loud in front of everyone. I berated myself for not keeping my goals secret. Why, oh why did I open my mouth and declare that I was a writer?

I spent a lot of time pondering that question as well as many others that threatened to destroy my writing life and my confidence. Thankfully, I kept writing. At times it was painful, but I found I couldn’t stop. When it became too tough, I read. I also cried, begged, and pleaded with God to either help me get published or take away the desire to write. So far, neither has happened. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or not, so I’ll keep writing.

Then I came across Heather Webb’s article on Writers in the Storm titled A Writer’s Lessons in Failure. It was as if she had written for my heart alone. I simply had to share what Ms. Webb conveyed so eloquently because it inspires hope. It reminds us that we—the creatives— are not alone. I hope her perspective toward handling failure will encourage you to keep trying, failing out loud if necessary, if for no other reason than to satisfy your soul.

Find Your Tribe

The first writing group I ever attended was at the library where I used to work. I had written for pleasure my whole life, but I never did anything with it. Not that one has to do anything with his or her writing. However, when my friend and co-worker mentioned that she was starting a writing group, I was intrigued.

I joined the monthly meetings without any expectations and a lot of desire and nervousness. No one had ever heard my writing beyond my parents and husband. Now I was being asked to share my work with strangers. Reading aloud in group did not come easily to me, and I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked. Even submitting through Google Groups intimidated me.

I kept going to the group but constantly came away frustrated and angry with myself. Then came the day when I realized the writing group wasn’t a good fit for me. I’ll refrain from listing the reasons why so I don’t sound petty or judgmental. The group still exists at a different location, members have come and gone, but the group is solid and I wish them every success.

I joined another writing group that seemed like what I was looking for, followed a few members from there to a new group, and tried two other groups on a hit or miss basis. I kept writing, editing, querying, and blogging, but I felt unsettled. I’d made wonderful friends in the writers I’d met, so what was missing?

A fellow writer from one of the earlier groups invited me to an informal meeting for writers at her home. She writes mysteries as do the majority of the attendees. The invitation to talk about craft and industry was too tempting. I went mostly to observe, listen, and learn especially since I don’t write mysteries.

If memory serves me correctly, that was close to two years ago. In that time an amazing thing happened. I remember the moment it dawned on me that the seven of us had come to trust each other. Every month we sat around the dining room table talking craft, industry, and so much more. Maybe it was the fact that we were all facing each other. Perhaps it had to do with sharing about our families, jobs, fears and joys, failures and successes. Maybe it’s because the group is small, consistent, and all women. Whatever the reason, I know that each of us looks forward to the monthly meeting with the same excitement and anticipation as one would a trip to Disney World combined with a visit to a great therapist.

The connection the group established spilled over into occasional e-mails, then a weekly check-in, and finally the need for a private means of communication via social media for questions and comments not requiring immediate attention or lengthy conversation. The group is a success because we know we’ll be there for each other. The support is invaluable.

I’m sharing this to stress the importance of finding a writing group that works for you. If you have the desire and initiative, create one. Only you can decide what makes a writing group work for you, so don’t stay in one that isn’t beneficial to your writing life. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be because I hate for the meeting to conclude, I miss my fellow writers/friends before I’m even out the door, and I can hardly wait until we’re together again.

Go forth fearlessly and find your tribe.

Baring My Writer’s Soul – Part 25

The life of a writer is a long and lonely path fraught with amazing highs and debilitating lows.  You have to be more than a little crazy to continue the journey, and if you can channel that craziness into passion, you’ll succeed.  Keep in mind that your success is not measured by your status in the world of publishing and/or how much money you make at writing.  If you’re writing, you are a writer.

The great part about writing is that every now and then you’ll make a connection with someone who thinks and feels exactly the way you do about the writing life.  When that happens, you’ll experience a surge of encouragement that keeps you going despite your belief that writers play it close to the vest, no one wants to read what you’ve written, you’ll never be published, or whatever the voices of doubt are whispering in your ear.

It would be so easy to hoard the energy you feel when you strike gold and make that all important connection that leads to a writing relationship.  A better thing to do is be the inspiration someone else needs by providing the shoulders for them to stand on even if that means you’re giving back to the person who just encouraged you.

Such was my experience recently with a fellow writer turned great friend.  We met to discuss her upcoming interview on another fellow writer’s blog, but the discussion turned personal as we shared our beliefs, experiences, fears, and desires for our writing lives.  It was incredible, but the writing high didn’t stop there.

I’d forgotten that my husband had attached a love note proclaiming his support for my writing to the cover of my laptop, and I inadvertently shared his sweet message with all of Starbucks.  A young man who had noticed the sign approached me to inquire about my writing.  We had a lovely conversation during which he shared his aspirations for writing.  I responded with the positive statements I’d received when I began my journey.  By the time we shook hands and wished each other a Merry Christmas, I was jittery with excitement.

It would be wonderful if every day in the life of a writer could be like this especially since staying positive is quite a challenge.  My personal goal is to continue seeking such instances as well as providing them.  More and more I’m encountering this sentiment across social media, so I know I’m on the right track.  Giving back, paying it forward, or whatever you choose to call it will never be wasted when the investment in is another person.

Write Happy!

Baring My Writer’s Soul – Part 24

Editing is like looking for your car keys on a messy dining room table.  The keys are there, but you are unable to see them among the mail and magazines, your daughter’s homework, brochures from the hardware store, the candlesticks and forgotten napkin, a cup of cold coffee, a box of tissues, your toddler’s blocks, the dog’s leash, a bag of catnip, flyers formerly tucked in the front screen door, your son’s iPod, your husband’s wallet, and on and on.

Only when you have searched every other room in the house and finally returned to the dining room table will you be able to see the keys that have always been there.  It is the same with editing.  You must allow yourself to step away so that when you return, you will be able to see immediately what portions of your writing need to be revised.

I like to edit during my writing process.  Part of the reason I do this is so that I don’t forget the really great idea that just popped into my head.  I don’t understand the point of writing said idea in a notebook and going back to fix the issue after the entire novel is written.  This works for some people, but not for me.  And that’s okay.  There is no one way to write a novel.

With that being said, I also like to step away from my work, especially the larger pieces, for about three months.  Absolutely no peeking at the story on my laptop.  I even try to not think about it unless an amazing idea surfaces, and being in touch with my work, I know the difference between when that occurs and when I’m just anxious to cheat and sneak a peek.

Turns out, what I discovered intuitively is actually a recommendation from one of my favorite writing books, Page After Page by Heather Sellers.  Mrs. Sellers refers to this process as curing, and in her case, it’s what happens when she submits a work and doesn’t look at it, edit it, consider it again until all the rejections return or she’s accepted, in which case she doesn’t need to edit.

Then she goes one step further past the editing process and offers this practice as a method for handling rejection.  When you and your writing come back together, it’s more complex, deeper, richer, funkier, more interesting, and a whole host of other things you didn’t see before because you didn’t put enough time between you and the writing.  Also during this time, you’ve grown.  Hopefully, you’ve been reading both for pleasure and to study writing.  Keep writing every day to ensure you have enough stuff that you don’t feel as if you’re wasting time not editing it.

It’s really quite simple, and yet in its simplicity, it’s brilliant.  Write to keep from editing too soon; write to ease the pain of rejection.  But whatever you do, write.

Write Happy!

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