Good Ol’ Trent Reedy

My friend, Trent Reedy, is going to write one million words this year. A MILLION.

(I have written 3,000 words since the start of January.)

We’ve talked about that million words.

“What if they’re bad?” I said.

“Of course, they’re bad.”

“What about rewriting?”

“Oh, I’ll rewrite.”

“But . . .”

“Look,” Trent said. “I was only writing 800 words a day before. Now I’m getting words on the page. If I don’t write, I have nothing to edit. No books to work on.” (In case Trent reads this post, I have taken our conversation over several days, squished it together, and written the best parts here. All swears have been omitted!)

Trent makes a great point. If you never pen the words, you never have a book to edit, to send to an agent, to sell to an editor, to wind up on a shelf. Just this week a student came to my office and told me she’s had a great idea for a series for several years. No words were written. And when I gave her my advice several times during our thirty minutes together–Just write–I could tell I sorta bugged her.

Don’t dream.

Just write.

Just write.

Just write.

Do you write no matter what? I don’t. But . . . I’m lucky to have a friend like Trent who does just write. He encourages me daily, and has gently prodded me to write, maybe not realizing this is what he’s doing.

This year I had hoped to write four days a week, but I haven’t been able to for whatever reason. However, as I have watched my pal, I’ve taken courage. My new goal is one hour of writing–really writing–four days a week. If things normalize here, then I can increase that. If they don’t, I have four thousand new words a week. And that, as they say, is nothing to sneeze at.

But to do nothing? Well, the days still pass. The weeks do, too. And at the end, if I do no writing, I have nothing to edit.

Just as Trent says.

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Your People

While doing the dishes or laundry or cooking, I like to listen to audiobooks, interviews or podcasts. It makes me feel like I’m working on my writing and craft while doing things I don’t love so much but have to do because of life.

Yesterday I listened to this story on This American Life about a woman who looked into the history of a family story about her grandfather getting abducted as a boy. It was a tale that was told often and had become a core memory of the family. One day her dad handed over a scrapbook of news articles and photos and journal entries about the ordeal.

She became curious about some of the details and started to research. What had begun as something she had a few questions about turned into an almost full-time job with strange and interesting turns. She made new friends in the process, had hard discussions with her family, and uncovered evidence about a mystery that had been long put in a drawer.

I was fascinated! I thought about all the stories of my family. The things we know from oral traditions, the things we have documented and things we could find out if we dug a little deeper. Have you ever researched an ancestor? Asked questions about things that puzzled you about your history? Looked at narratives, first-person accounts of their journeys, every day life, etc.?

Our histories are full of people, full of stories, full of heart ache, full of triumphs, full of mistakes. What if you took time to interview some of your family? Got into the details? Learned new things? I think this is the most fascinating stuff and could lead to compelling novels or memoirs or even just family discussions

I challenge anyone reading this to do it. This week. Talk to one person in your family about a story you’ve had questions about. Or maybe just ask them more about an experience you don’t understand or have wondered about. See what happens. Free-write about their response, how it matched up with your understanding, and what new questions you have.

Let me know if you do it. Also tell me any podcasts or audiobooks you love. Happy Monday and Happy February and Happy Stories.

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On how to have fun

Write an email to someone. Maybe a writing friend. Maybe a sister. Maybe a online buddy.

Make it urgent. Make it important. Make it fiction.

You have to put in enough clues that they know it’s fake (that’s why writing friends might be the most open to this) but let yourself go.

At the end of the email write,

I’m need you to write back. Please. It’s all I have right now. Please.

Or

If you don’t write back, I will be heart broken. Harry will be heartbroken. Pricilla, who is buried alive, will be heart broken.

Or

I know this email is long sorrynotsorry!! JK. wRite Back!

Tell me how it goes.

 

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Monday, Monday

Every time I start a new semester, I get behind. When you add behind to behind to behind what you get is me. Someone who can’t seem to catch up, no matter what.

Here is a writing exercise for you so you don’t get as far behind as me. You can take this experience of mine, find your own that is similar, and write an incident that can fit in your book.

My best friend’s shoes are in my closet. A pair of his jeans in a drawer. He’s been dead just over a year.

“Do you want me to take these?”I ask him. He’s in a hospital bed. He can’t speak. SO he nods. I gather the shoes, the pants. “I’ll take these until you’re better.”

And here’s this article from my dear friend Trent Reedy. what do you think?

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/how-to-write-100-000-words-per-day-every-day?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email

 

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Ann Dee Candy Speaking at the Liberry!

WIFYR/SCBWI WRITER’S KICKOFF!

WHEN: Thursday, January 18, 2018 
TIME: 6-8 pm
Place: Provo Library
WHO: ALL WRITERS are invited, but numbers are limited!
WHAT: A time together to kick off the New Year with writing buddies and prizes and fun and excitement and love and . . . well, you get it!
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: Ann Dee Ellis, award-winning author of several middle grade and young adult novels

Please bring a potluck dish for eight and one writing quote (or prompt) printed on a 3×5 card.

Register here: https://wifyr.com/registration/index.php

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The Difference Between Dreams and Goals

The Difference Between Dreams and Goals

by Kathryn Purdie

Another January is here, and writers everywhere are making resolutions for the new year. “I’m going to get an agent! Sell a manuscript! Hit the New York Times Bestseller’s List! Win a major award!” Easy there, writer. Those sound like dreams, not goals. The difference between the two is vast and important, but both are vital for success.

Dreams give us passion. They are the driving force necessary to pursue our goals. Dreams help us get back on our feet when we experience setbacks. But while dreams are powerful motivators, achieving them is almost always beyond our control. After all, we can’t make an agent or editor invest in us, force readers to buy our books, or demand critics to enjoy our work. What we can control, however, is accomplishing specific writing-related goals, which will hopefully move us closer to realizing our dreams.

As far as the realm of traditional publishing is concerned, writers should only be pursuing goals within two categories: education and writing. Why? Because no one can take away what you learn, and no one can take away the words you write. They are the only goals you and you alone control. The chart below lists suggestions for goals within each category.

 

GoalsVsDreams

This January and all throughout the year, make those vision boards, dream big, and keep your passion alive, but find satisfaction along the way through accomplishing goals YOU can control, and remember SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Happy New Year, writers!

 

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Kathryn Purdie is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the BURNING GLASS series (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins) and the forthcoming BONE GRACE. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and three children. Kathryn is a trained classical actress who studied at the Oxford School of Drama and was inspired to write her debut trilogy while recovering from donating a kidney to her older brother. In her spare time, she loves playing guitar, binge-watching TV, and devouring Peanut Butter Oreos. Find her online at www.kathrynpurdie.com

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Dear Friends

December is a wonderful black writing hole for me. Everything stands still and nothing gets done and things are merry and bright and there’s lots and lots of chocolate. I am now back to real life, thank goodness, and school starts tomorrow! Yay!

A few good things:

  1. I got noise cancelling headphones. This means I will be wildly productive.
  2. I’ve been reading more than ever (but not writing) and I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Strout, one of my favorite authors, who had these pieces of advice for writers: a. don’t stop. ever. And b. read beautiful sentences. She says reading good words and sentences and books is like eating good food. It gives you energy and strength and makes you feel better.
  3. Someone at church said this: momentum is more important than destination. I believe this!

With that, my goals:

  1. Finish a draft by the end of January of WIP.
  2. Write a little, even so so little, five days a week.
  3. Read. Read beautiful sentences and books.
  4. Listen to beautiful sentences and books and podcasts. You can get a lot of professional development and learning done by searching for podcasts from your favorite writers and artists. There is so much wonderful education on the internet that you can be taking in as you DO THE DANG DISHES!!!! And I believe it makes me happier and more motivated when I am filling my heart with things I need.
  5. Be happier. Be more patient. Spend more time outside in the mountains. Meet new people. Be kinder.

Those are so easy right? Are they attainable? Maybe. I’ll adjust as Carol suggests. I’d love to read yours too. Hope your year is off to a great start.

 

Love Ann Dee

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