Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Writing, Rewriting, Discipline And Other Loathsome Necessities This Blog Post Endeavors to Cover

A smaller-yet-(even-more)-passionate-(as-proven-by-the-fact-that-they-showed-up) group of Schmoozers gathered for the November 12th Schmooze to discuss the next step on the Journey of Your Book: getting the thing out of your head, onto the page, and into a readable form.

After the usual announcements of all the conferences and contests and contemplative confabs one can partake of in this crazy, mixed up SCBWI world we inhabit, Charlie started off with his standard exhausting research.  Sorry, we meant exhaustive

This time he focused on how folks get themselves to write, despite the terror, and where that terror comes from.  Here’s a smattering:

MG fantasy author Julie Berry had a great list of fears and advice on how to get over them: 

1               You lack motivation and often fail to choose writing over other temptations. Solution: “Blow up your TV, Twitter and Facebook.”
2               You find no writing time is left after day’s obligations are met. Solution: Recognize that writing will cost you something.
3               You fear that you’re not good enough. Solution: Don’t confuse a draft with a finished work.
4               You feel overwhelmed by all the plot decisions you have to make. Solution: “Dance between writing in the dark and making a plan. Use both the ‘outline’ and the ‘just write’ approaches in tandem.
5               You feel like you don’t care about your book anymore. “Your characters haven’t hooked you yet,” diagnosed Berry, “because somewhere you took a shortcut and held back from  making them real and true.

Some other tips:

1. Create a feeling of urgency to write.
2. Commit to finishing your draft by a certain date.
3. Hunker down when it gets hard.

 “You can get a lot of writing done if you just write,” she said. “The rest of the time, don’t write and don’t fret about writing.”
Joanna Penn had some good tips about getting the material onto the page. Charlie’s favorite: Get up really early and work while your brain is still half asleep.

Karol's philosophy in life
Not being a morning person, Karol found that tip completely unfathomable.

And here's another one that sent shivers down Karol's spine:

Trust the process of emergence. You won’t know what is coming until the words appear on the
page. Something happens when you commit to the page, to the word count goal and you write through the frustration and the annoyance and the self-criticism. Creativity emerges. Ideas emerge. Original thought emerges. Something happens – but only if you trust emergence.

Karol’s favorite tidbit of the night came from Schmoozer and The Pen And Ink blogger, Sue Burger, who said you should print out your manuscript, make a title page, and bind that sucker.  Heck, Karol thought – why not write a dedication and acknowledgements while you’re at it?  (Christmas/Hanukkah gift list – handled!)

Charlie went on and on (as he is wont to do) listing tops, including Simon Clark’s wise advice to get up and LEAVE the writing table when your first draft is done so that you can return to it some days or weeks later with a fresh perspective.

He finally finished with this sweet little bon mot from the comments section of the Ask the Writer blogpost :

Lastly, be generous with self-forgiveness. Writing is a process.
--Brandi Reissenweber.

Thanks Brandi, wherever you are.

At this point Karol wrested control back from Charlie and turned it over to the estimable Laurie Young.  She shared about a 7 HOUR REVISION CLASS she’d just taken the previous weekend taught by Liza Palmer at Writing Pad. We thought she was gangbusters, but Laurie felt that what she’d said was a tad muddled (and seriously, who could blame her after a 7 hour revision class??), so she us sent the following:

There was some real insight in Liza Palmer's class that I failed to communicate to the group. So here are a few points from the class that could be helpful:

    * Revision is about percolating. Take time to breathe.
    * Ask yourself why you are writing this story, now.
    * Break it down into acts. Make sure your tentpoles are strong. Plug holes.
    * Outline to the point of ridiculousness, then rewrite. Repeat as needed.
    * What does your character know? When do they know it? When does the reader know it? Map it out.
    * Passes: Look for word repetition. Check swear words to make sure they have impact and are not used carelessly. Make sure you have not pulled punches, and up the stakes wherever you can. Dialogue tags.
    * "When we have trouble revising, we are too close to the painting—obsessing about the small details when we need to focus on the big picture."
* And lastly, make peace with the fact that it will never be finished.

After that everyone got involved, sharing tips, once in a lifetime insights and the warm, supportive words of brilliance you’d wait a lifetime to hear. We’d recount it all here, but, sadly, we’ve run out of space.  Also, if we told you everything, why would you come to the next schmooze?
And speaking of the next Schmooze…we’ll be meeting again December 10th and welcoming special guest Jen RofĂ© of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  How cool is that?!  Answer: VERY.

So be sure to join us and, until then, keep passing the open windows,

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