Tag Archives: Anne Lamott

Monday, Monday–Are You Writing? Three Hints.

I mentioned last week Ann Dee and I came up with the 25 words that our story is about. Here’s the thing. Having an idea, knowing what your story is about, makes it easier to write.

Hint–Know what your story is about. Knowing this Major Dramatic Question (which is answered with a yes or no) gives you the direction to take your story. When you know this then character can move the plot.

 

Each morning, I’ve tried to give myself time to complete a project I MUST finish.

Like having the MDQ, I’ve set a specific word count for myself.

Having a word count gives you a concrete goal.

Hours sitting at your computer is NOT the same as putting words on the page.

Hint–What is your concrete goal? Have you reached it each day since you started? Can you see progress?

A few places to land after you have written to see what other people have done with their word counts:

http://writerswrite.co.za/the-daily-word-counts-of-39-famous-authors-1

http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/word_count.htm

FYI–There was a third article for you to read¬† from someone who jumped up their daily writing word count from reasonable to far too much. I read the first lines of this author’s first pubbed book and it was pretty crummy. So.

(I am not endorsing anyone of these. Just giving you something to read to keep you from writing. Ha! Read AFTER you write!)

 

Don’t rewrite now.

Not yet.

In our new book, Ann Dee and I can already see what will need to be done, but we want that Dirty Draft down.

If we edit and rewrite and fix and change, we won’t be putting down the new words.

Hint: Allow yourself that shitty first draft that Anne Lamott talks about.

Here’s something to read.

Anne Lamott on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

So keep going.

Are you having fun?

It’s nice to reach goals, huh?

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Plot, Revision

Preparing for 2015 with Writing Goals

Every year I write about goals and sometimeswe collect them here and see how everyone has done at the end of that year.

The truth is, I talk about goals all the time–NaNo goals, First of the Month goals, Whim goals, Goals Because the Month Started on a Sunday, I Feel Like It goals, Novel Deadline goals, The Night Before I Go to Bed Goals for Whatever Reason . . . You get it, right? I like making goals. I love accomplishing what I set out to do. But the truth is, I always overshoot. Always.

This past NaNoWriMo found me changing rules because I had a book deadline. Here’s what I wanted to do:¬† rewrite a novel for an editor. Ann Dee and I would finish our book. AND I would rewrite and finish the book I was 10,000 words away from completing from an earlier NaNo. It didn’t all happen.

But I don’t beat myself up when I don’t accomplish what I set out to do. Guess what? Life gets in the way. Always. And while writing is my job, sometimes caring for Mom or being with my girls takes me from my job. I’m blessed to be able to leave my home office and walk in to where there are.

To be successful as a writer, we have to get comfortable with our goal making. Maybe you don’t feel okay when you fail at what you’ve set for yourself (I had a friend who was overzealous like me. This was back in the day. She charted her goals on graph paper and posted them on her fridge, just like I did. She went to a therapist who told her this was bad for her because she always felt like crap when she complete all 250 goals a year!).

So,

here are some ways to set about making your goals. You know, so you don’t end up going to a therapist!

1. Aim at a reasonable target. I knew when I made my November goals they would probably not happen. I was okay with accomplishing only 1.7 of what I set for myself. Make your goals reasonable and achievable. Could I have accomplished what I set out to do November? Yes. However, I made choices that kept me from doing this. Keep Shel Silverstein’s Melinda Mae, who ate a whale a bite at a time, in mind. She’s a good example of winning.

2. Stretch yourself. The idea of a goal, for me, is to stretch. I want to be a better writer, a faster writer, a more thoughtful writer. I shoot a little higher so I have to stand on my tippy-toes to reach the prize.

3. If you’re a writer, don’t make writing your reward after a day of chores accomplished. Instead, make it your habit. Too many times we reward ourselves with writing. When the car is cleaned out. When the house is straightened. When the mile is run. Writing, itself, is the prize. Why put it off? There’s always something that will take your time. Give yourself to writing first, if possible.

4. Set yourself a word count to reach, not a number of hours of Butt in Chair. I can sit at my computer all day, for eight hours, and write nothing. I can research, watch YouTube, read blogs, check Facebook–You’ve done it yourself, right? If you say I’ll write 2000 words today and won’t get up till I’m done, then you’ll run the chance of writing almost ten pages in that writing session.

5. As Anne Lamott says, allow yourself to write shitty first drafts. Here’s where she says it: http://wrd.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/1-Shitty%20First%20Drafts.pdf

Good, strong writing takes time. Thoughtful writing takes time. And stories are perfected in rewrite. Give yourself permission to write as fast and dirty and drafty as you can. Ignore the voice that tells you that adverb has to go. Write on. Then, in rewrite, begin the amazing work of perfecting the story.

6. Give yourself reasonable goals that YOU control. My dear friend, Rick Walton, taught me this and I have repeated it here many, many times. I will sell three books this year is a much harder goal to accomplish than say, I will write three books this year. You control your writing, but the publishers? Not so much.

7. Tell Writer’s Block it isn’t real. Then believe it. If you’re having a hard time with a novel, you’ve probably taken a wrong turn in your story. So back up and read to see where you’ve gone astray. Don’t wait for the Muse. She may never show.

8. We do what we love. Learn to love writing. Even if you hate it at the same time. Enjoy the struggle of making a passage work, developing a character, working through a difficult plot. Remember–good writing is work. My goal for any novel, once it’s done, is to love that I’ve written.

 

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, Life, writing process

Three Things Thursday!

1. I’ve reserved a room for us at the Provo Olive Garden (504 W 2230 N, Provo, UT 84604). It’s under my name (Carol). 7 pm. Bring 100-250 words to read. Depending on # of people, we’ll decide the amount to share. Make sure you mark your piece at 100 words, 150, and 200. We’ll also do a freewrite or two–short ones–that we can share tonight, too.

 

2. from Cheryl Van Eck

I love #FirstWorldProblems. Things like “I have too much dip for my chips. But if I open a new bag of chips, then I’ll have too many chips for my dip.”
So tragic.
What does this have to do with writing? World building.
For many of us, we live in a first world country, which means sometimes our biggest problem is that we have two hours with nothing to do and all 1,000 satellite channels have nothing good on.
But if your character also lives in a first world country, then it means they aren’t generally worried about having water to take a shower, or having a place to sleep, or having food to eat.
What if that changed? What if your character was plopped into a situation where nothing was taken for granted? Think of Ron in the final Harry Potter book. It had never occurred to me that Ron, who was known to be “poor,” had actually led a pretty pampered life. And when that was taken away from him, he cracked under the pressure.
And for a bonus point? In the comments, write your best #FirstWorldProblems!
3. Brenda Bensch
How do you start writing? I mean, right from the very beginning, without any prior experience, the very first day? One way is to write FROM the very beginning. About YOU. Anne Lamott suggested “Start with your childhood… Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can.” The claim is that from such memories, you may glean powerful stories, or story ideas, with gripping plots and even important themes. You may need to write a lot about all your early memories to get there, but keep on truckin’ !
So, stuck? Write about YOU!
Finally–my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who may have lost someone they loved on September 11, 2001. We were all changed by that day. I usually cancel classes, don’t go anywhere, stay at home and watch the horrific footage of what happened 13 years ago. This morning, Carolina and I awoke and lit four candles at the time that first airplane hit the first tower. Tonight, I’ll spend some time with good people, good writers. A moment of thought for all who were lost.

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