Friday, October 4, 2013

Lisa's Writing Tips

So, the Pens are back (plus Mysti and Ruby!)...we're all really excited to be here. Seriously, excited.

To writers, talking about writing is almost as good as doing it. I'm a perpetual student. I have a fairly extensive library of books on writing. Writing novels, writing short stories, writing screenplays. Three act structures, Hero's journey, scene and sequel. How to make good writing great.

Books by famous authors about their career paths and how they did it and continue to keep doing it. Books on mythology, archetypes, symbolism. Books on editing once the draft is done. Books on style. Books on marketing.

There is always more to learn. Which is true of any profession or passion. There is always more to learn.

I thought for my posts perhaps each month I would highlight a particular book. Of course, I may change my mind which is definitely the point of this newer, less-structured format. This month's book was supposed to be a highlight of Self-Editing forFiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

It's an excellent book chock full of tips on how to make your writing cleaner and more concise, and how to avoid common mistakes. I refer back to the information frequently. But when I sat down to write this post, I kept getting distracted by what's been going on in my own writing life lately and decided to share my personal tips this month instead.

So what I want to talk about is actually getting your butt in the chair and writing. One of the hazards of being a writer is that talking about writing is almost as good as doing it. I know you've seen that line before, right at the beginning of this post. But it's true.

It's really easy to talk about writing, about learning the craft, about structure, about heroes, heroines, villains, about plot points, black moments, returning for the elixir. The list goes on and on....

But at the end of the day (week, month, year) what matters most is whether or not you sat down at your computer or with a notebook and pencil and actually put words on the page. Because that's what writers do. They write.

So here are my tips (in no particular order):

1. I keep a spreadsheet. A practice I learned from the absolutely amazing Suzanne Brockmann at a workshop years ago. She mentioned lawerly billable hours and keeping track of her time. I started doing the same. I keep a year long spreadsheet, and I put in all my work whether it is 20 pages of editing or 652 new words written or even research.

2. I also delete nothing (or almost nothing) from a work in progress until the draft is complete and I've gone through two or three revision passes. Then I take all the leftovers, which I move to the bottom of the manuscript, and dump them into a leftover file doc. I do delete a few words or notes here and there but if the edit is longer than four or five words, it goes at the bottom of the document.

3. If I am having trouble diving into a scene, I will do some of these: Write in 15 minute increments. Write the scene in first person. Switch the scene point of view. Write or Die (  online for free). Start a word war with a friend. (Adrienne Bell and I are getting to be pros at this. I lost September so I have to buy lunch this month :) )

So those are my words to get you started. I'll leave you with this:

Just write. That's what we do.


ps. Some Pens and friends have a holiday anthology coming October 20th! We are pretty excited about this collaboration. More later in the month....

Love on Main Street: A Snow Creek Christmas

Where love begins on Main Street and ends happily ever after....

Christmas, the most magical season, is almost upon the small mountain town of Snow Creek. For seven couples, holiday wishes mean more than just gifts or parties. Can Snow Creek pull off its annual holiday miracle of bringing love to town? 


Mysti said...

I keep a spreadsheet to track stuff in the novel, never thought of tracking my billable hours! Great idea, as are the others. Thanks Lisa! Looking forward to the anthology you guys cooked up!!!!!

Gigi Pandian said...

While I cannot fathom keeping a spreadsheet... I love the rest of these tips!

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