Tag Archives: Writing Process

Today I’m 

a. not going to get mad because it’s supposed to get cold again.

b. going to work on my book that I have a full draft of but feel like it’s not good enough so I’m tempted to trash it even though first drafts are never good enough. This book keeps whispering to me “keep me. keep going. keep trying.” One of the hardest parts of writing is when you can feel the potential of something but you don’t feel the confidence that you can make it what it can be. I know that if something HUGE can be done, this book could become something. I mostly just want people to tell me what to do. I want people to fix everything for me. I don’t want to do the work on my own because my brain is tired.

c. going to try to do laundry. 

d. going to read through an old manuscript that I worked on for two years. I have several drafts with several points of view and several plots and several characters all revolving around the same idea. I want so badly for this book to work but it never has. How do you know when to give up completely? 

e. going to hang upside down from the jungle gym in my yard. 

What are you going to do today? 


by | May 6, 2014 · 6:28 am

Thank You!

Thanks for all the well wishes. We are so happy to have our little man here and he has gotten quite the welcome from his brothers. They are ever so happy to

1. shove a binky in his mouth

2. pull his bassinet around the house

3. sing him LOUDLY to sleep

4. hold him tightly and tell him stories.

We have officially survived the first two weeks and in all seriousness, we are full of joy. There is something very special about having a new babe in the house.

So there’s that. My fourth boy!

And then there’s other things. Like my book. Some of you may know, I’m about done with the revision phase of a book that has been a VERY LONG TIME coming. In fact, the night before I went to the hospital, my editor sent me an email with some scene changes, etc. and asked if I could get it back to her in the next few days.

I stared at the email and thought, I can’t do this. I can NOT do this.

I told Cam, I can’t do this.

He said, You don’t have to do this.

I said, Yeah. I don’t have to do this.

Then I sat there. And I said a prayer. Cam and I said a prayer.

Then I worked for three hours. I didn’t finish, but I got close.

In the morning, when we got to the hospital (leaving my kids with my sisters and father), I pulled out the laptop and handed it to Cam. For the next eight hours, while we waited for the baby to come, I dictated to Cam and he made changes for me in the manuscript. We went down the list, item by item until, a half hour before the arrival, we finally finished and Cam clicked send.

Here are some things I realized through this process:

1. I can do hard things.

2. This actually wasn’t as hard as I was making it in my head.

3. It took our minds off the long wait for baby to come.

4. My kids were in good hands with someone else. It was just me and Cam, hanging out in a room for hours. What better way to spend our time?

5. Writing is fun. Especially when you have someone willing to help you. We laughed a lot.

6. I felt tough even though it really wasn’t tough AT ALL! There weren’t huge changes. I’d done most of that earlier but there were enough minor changes for me to feel a little defeated the night before.

7. There’s no need to feel defeated.

8. I am SO GLAD I did it BEFORE the baby came rather than AFTER he came. I had forgotten how exhausted and achy and demanding being a new mom can be.

9. I love my husband.

10. I am glad I prayed.

So that’s my writing birth story. I could tell you other kinds of stories in relation to this epic thing called childbirth–like how I immediately put on my string bikini right after he was born because I was looking that good, or how I had forgotten about nursing and what that entails and how it made my bikini look so much better/scarier, or how this cute thing loves to blow out all his diapers and the boys think it’s pretty darn awesome and in a way, I do too–i could tell you stories like that but this is a writing blog so I’ll save you the details.

Thanks for all your love and support. xoxox


Filed under Uncategorized

Rice Pudding and Writing Exercises

Today this heaviness settled on me. It came from almost nowhere. Seeped in under the door and followed me around until it settled on my shoulders and head and neck and decided to take a nap. It’s not that things have been so hard lately. Other than my one year old pooping three times this morning and the boys sitting on each other and every drawer of the house feeling like a tornado, other than those things, it’s business as usual.

Writing Exercise: What makes your main character feel heavy? When does this heaviness happen? What do they do when it happens? Who knows about it? Does it affect their every day life?

I have class tomorrow, which I look forward to. I like hearing their stories, discussing ideas, talking about craft. Sometimes it’s a challenge but mostly I see hope. So much stretched in front of them. Possibilities of creating something and the joy of getting to read their creations. Writing and creating are places of renewal and discovery. I’m always surprised when I read a student or friend or family’s writing. So much is revealed by what words we choose, what characters we create, what worlds we build. And I’m not talking about fantasy. I’m talking about every kind of world that comes out of our fingertips when we decide to populate a page.

Writing Exercise: If your MC were to write a story, what would the story be about? Write a fast short piece composed by your main character. What would they write? Who would be their characters? Would it be happy? Sad? Heavy? Light? Funny? Weird? Boring? Disturbing?

I do believe there are lots of ways to approach things. There are lots of ways to go about doing what we want to be doing. Or rather, figuring out what we want first and then deciding how we can accomplish that thing and then being satisfied with the results.

Writing Exercise: What does your MC want? How does he/she know she wants it? Why is it more important than anything else? Why can’t he/she get it? What are their first steps to getting what they want?

Here are some questions I ask myself:  Why do I write? What do I want from it? What does it feel like? Why does it matter? How should I proceed? When should I stop? Why is rice pudding so delicious?

Writing Exercise: Ask yourself the same questions. Sit down and write the answers as fast as you can. Don’t think too hard about it. Just let yourself go.

I’ve been thinking about endings, like I said. What is the right ending? Happy? Open? Closed? True? Not true? Real? False? What about my own story? What about the story of my children, my family, my relationships, my home, my days, my weeks, my months? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Writing Exercise: What is the right ending for you and your book? Write down a list of all the possibilities. What would each one do to the narrative? How do each change the nature of the book? The reading experience? What feeling do you want your reader to have when they close the back cover? What does the story of this character, of your person, look like? Feel like?

I am rambling.

I think that heaviness is okay because it makes me ramble. It makes me think. It makes me wonder. It makes me imagine.

I have not gathered the endings like I promised. I will. Soon.

There is one at the end of novel that haunted me, it says, “She smiled mysteriously.”

This sentence is loaded and weird and horrible and forgiving—a strange ending to a tragic in some ways hopeless book. She smiled mysteriously.

Any guesses which book?

Now I need to make sandwiches for my boys and clean my house and do my laundry and brush my hair and think about rice pudding. If you do any of these exercises and want to share or tell about your experience, please do.


Filed under Ann Dee, Character, Depression, Exercises, Family, Life, writing process

Todays Post.

So last semester Amy Hackworth, a wonderful writer and person, came to my class to talk about being a ghost/co-writer for this book. She was hilarious and humble and great to listen to. She also mentioned that she had started reading THE ARTIST’S WAY and that it was kicking her butt.

Kicking her butt?

Why would anyone want a book that kicks their butt?

So then I bought it.

It’s going to kick my butt.

It’s about finding our inner artist, or, in the words of the author, “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”

Not bad, eh?

I started reading and it was good. Pretty good. She’s helped a lot of people, yadda yadda yadda. if you really do what she says, you’ll be come the artist you always wanted to be, etc. etc. etc.

Then she said, people get good ideas in the showers.

She said that! And we all know that I wholeheartedly agree. I do! I said it last week!

So then I was sold.

Here is the passage . . . it’s about how it’s important to fill the well, so to speak:

“The artist’s language is a sensual one, a language of our felt experience. When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience and scoop out images. Because we do this, we need to learn how to put images back. How do we do this? . . . Any regular, repetitive action primes the well.

Writers have heard many woeful tales of the Bronte sisters and poor Jane Austen, forced to hide their stories under their needlework. A little experiment with mending can cast a whole new light on these activities. Needlework, by definition regular and repetitive, both soothes and stimulates the artist within. Whole plots can be stitched up while we sew. As artists, we can very literally reap what we sew.

‘Why do I get my best ideas in the shower?’ an exasperated Einstein [SEE? WE ARE JUST LIKE EINSTEIN] is said to have remarked. Brain research now tells us that this is because showering is an artist-brain activity.

Showering, swimming [EMILY], scrubbing, shaving, steering a car . . . all of these are regular, repetitive activities that may tip us over from our logic brain into our more creative artist brain. Solutions to sticky creative problems may bubble up through the dishwater, emerge on the freeway just as we are executing a tricky merge.

Learn which of these words best for you and use it.” pp 21-23

That was long. Sorry. But I think it’s so true. And it gives me motivation to go into my floor scrubbing with more anticipation (I just stepped on a quesadilla earlier today, btw). My house is going to be spotless and I am going to have thousands of fabulously creative ideas!


I think.

At the very least, I am going to look at mundane tasks as opportunities to think, to create, to work through writing problems.

I do this a lot anyway–thinking and creating during mundane tasks–but I don’t know that I utilize all this energy the right way. For example, after a school meeting the other night, I was walking in the dark to get to my car alone and instead of thinking about my WIP, I was thinking about how I was going to be attacked and why would they attack me? I’m fifty thousand years pregnant? And I imagined what I would say to them, how I would dissuade them (I came up with some good stuff) and if it didn’t work, I thought about how the chalk drawing would look on the school playground. That would be a difficult crime scene to maintain.  And then I thought about  how they would write it up in the morning papers and then I thought, no one ever reads the newspaper anymore and that’s kind of sad and then I thought, I am very disturbed.

I’m going to try to be less disturbed. That’s one goal I made after reading a little bit of this book. I’m going to use my quiet alone time to think about my fake characters kissing each other rather than being attacked in dark alleys.

Another thing that I’ve gotten from the book is that she makes you commit to writing three pages every morning. Long hand (I typed mine because I don’t follow rules). As fast as you can. No thinking. Whatever comes into your head. You don’t ever read the pages again, they aren’t supposed to be pretty or nice or well written. They are just BLAH all over the page. Whatever comes to you. It can be horrible thoughts, ramblings, things you have to do that day, a dream you had, your worries, ideas, whatever.

I tried it this morning. Again, I couldn’t believe how disturbed I am. Ha ha ha. But also, I couldn’t believe how fun it was. And how many things popped into my head and how refreshed and ready for the day I felt when I was done.

So a recap: Use your mundane, repetitive tasks to create AND write three pages as fast as you can every morning right when you wake up (she says you should get up a half hour early to do this–I’m not sure that is necessary).

Whoever wants to do this with me (even just for a week), I welcome your companionship.

And if any of you feel like getting the book, I do think it is worth it. A writing group could do it together–it’s a twelve week course. I’m making myself do it starting this week and when I’m done I expect to come out a completely enlightened spiritually creative person. I’ll let you know if it works.

The end.

p.s. ann tagged me too. I’ll do it. I promise. Someday.

p.p.s. saw this contest on John Cusick’s blog. This is a great opportunity!


Filed under Exercises, Life, Uncategorized, writing process