Welcome to Summer! Time for hot days and warm nights. It’s the perfect season to write. There will be many times when you won’t crawl into bed until the wee hours of the morning. Your body will not be ready to rest until the weather shifts the tiniest bit. Use the sauna like temperature to your advantage.
Steps For Successful Summer Writing On Hot, Sleepless Nights:
- Make a pitcher of your favorite nonalcoholic cold drink.
- Add ice cubes to a tall glass and pour in the drink.
- If your brain likes pen on a pad, grab both items. If you prefer to use a computer or notebook, boot it up, and open the file on your latest manuscript.
- Put words on page. Any words, awful sentences and clunky paragraph will do. Aim for 500-2000 words.
- Repeat this over the course of seven days. Don’t you dare edit!
- Day eight ~ review what you wrote. Yes, some of it is crap but not all of it.
- Repeat the process for the next couple of weeks.
Picture Books have nuggets of genius to offer both fiction and not fiction writers. Yes, you read the prior sentence correctly. Here’s are 4 lessons that can be learned from picture books:
Grab The Reader Right Away~ Picture books lack the luxury of time. They must grab the young readers attention immediately. Is your goal to have readers dive into your books as well? Copy their model by introducing the main character or action right away.
Value Every Word ~ Modern picture books are often under 1,000 words. The writers must select each word carefully. As a writer you will often rewrite to create outstanding material. Select your words and shy away from fillers. * Words used either because word count needs to be a certain number or because they sound good but you know they don’t actually fit.
Be Creative But Be Clear~ Mo Willems Elephant And Piggies series are fun. The characters are engaging and each book offers a complete story (beginning, middle and end). Remember that the reader has not lived with your character or plot the way you have. Make sure that you have the needed information on the page.
The End? ~ Picture books often wrap up in the last page or two. Have you read a book that offered a conclusion so long that you lost interest? The ending of your manuscript should offer the ideal ratio of tied up loose ends and clarity without boring the reader. Learn when to stop.
Grab a couple of picture books. Any titles that have been published over the past 5 years. Read them twice. Yes, twice. Once to just enjoy the story, the second time to look for the things mentioned above.
Done with picture book reading? Go forth and write!
You may be stuck, a section of your plot as thick as quicksand. If so, it’s time to shake things up. Here’s a wild thought, consider taking on a writing partner.
Some of you are shaking your head no as hard as possible. Others of you are considering the possibility.
Collaboration can fix plot holes and add fresh perspective to your story. Some of the most well written novels of the last few years were done by collaboration. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Stephen King and Owen King, and James Patterson ( who has 23 co-authors)have created outstanding modern novels through partnerships.
The next time you pick a fellow writer’s brain, ask yourself if this person could be a co-author. If the possibility is strong, ask the person if they are interested. Shaking up your writing practice may create a brilliant collaboration.
Sometimes life can move at a frantic rate. It’s challenging to squeeze in anytime for personal goals, writing gets put on hold. The more time without the outlet of creative expression, the more frustrated the writer becomes.
Pause. We know that a creative who does not express themselves is dangerous. He/she may mutter to themselves, whispering plot points in their sleep, break out sporadic bursts of rhymes.
How do you write in the midst of life’s chaotic storm? Become a time thief! You have done it before, but you may have become a bit rusty. Here are a few tips to jump start your memory:
*Load a note app onto your cell phone & use it.
*Keep a small notepad and your favorite pen in a sweater pocket or your bag.
*Pick a hiding space in your home or office. Sneak into this space one a day for ten minutes.
***Use the app, notepad and hiding space to write anything related to your current manuscript. Save all notes and scribbled thoughts to be pieced together when life settles down.
The choppy waters of life will calm at some point, in the meantime, steal moments and jot down thoughts, write.
You have cleared a bit of space in your office or writing nook. Time to fill the space with fresh supplies. Here is a list of items that will assist in both the writing and submission process:
Writers Market 2019 (There are several additions but if you write in multiple genres, purchase the general or deluxe additions)
Thesaurus (Come on, admit it. You’ve worn out your current copy. )
Dictionary ( Same reason you are replacing the thesaurus. )
Magazine Subscriptions — The Writer Magazine, Writers Digest Magazine
Gel Pens or Funky Pencils
2 Quirky Items For Your Desk (The Muse Will Be Pleased.)
Go ahead, shop a little. Follow the act of supply replacement with an hour of writing.
It’s almost Spring. Time to get organized, clear a bit of clutter and prepare to be a more successful writer. Let’s start with the stack of magazines that is three feet high. Yes, it’s time to weed some of them out. The chances that you need to read and make notes on every article in those periodicals are slim.
Let’s sort the stack. Begin by recycling any older than three years. Next, check the topic, if it is relevant save.
Finally, commit to reading two magazines a week. No resource is of use if it is untouched.
Go ahead, step up to the pile. I know that you are up to the task.
**Coming Soon: Prep For Spring
Has the Muse come out of hiding? Is she standing near but ignoring your plea for a dash of her creativity? It’s fine, she’s not needed.
Here are a couple of writing exercises designed to jumpstart your creativity:
* Write a bitter back story. We have all interacted with a nasty relative or horrible neighbor. Often, we have no idea how he/she became so unpleasant of a person. Allow your imagination to design the life experiences that created the embodiment of bitterness he/she has become.
* Madam or Mr. President . Describe the state of the country after you have sat in the oval office for one month.
* Solve The Crime. Are you inspired by the crafty characters in Agatha Christie novels or impressed by the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes? Write flash fiction or a short story where you are one of those sleuths.
Now your creative motor is running, open your main writing project and get to work.
Let’s Flex Our Muscles & Nudge The Muse. Here Are Two Writing Exercises To Start The Process:
(1) Uncomfortable Situations: Write about a time when you were physically uncomfortable. Describe the level of extreme heat that had you swimming in perspiration or below zero temperature that had your bones rattling.
(2) Relive The Ick Factor: Few flavors are as horrible as food prepared by the friend or relative that has no business cooking. A close challenger is fruit flavored cough syrup from the 1970s and 80s. Search your memories and describe in details the assault experienced by your taste buds.
Now that we have nudged the Muse, start writing.
**Writing Prompts Part 2 Coming Soon ***
We know that words have power. The ones that tangle, tumble, and twist as they loop into poetry have the ability to inspire the Muse. Yes, poetry. I saw one of you suddenly develop an eye twitch. Cut it out. If you have avoided this form of literature since school, it time to step back to the page and read a language unlike any other.
Let you inner three year old giggle at the silly, brilliance of Shel Silverstein’s ~ Dirtiest Man In The World. Absorb Nikki Giovanni’s description of love ~ Love Is. Allow Langston Hughes to move you with a mother’s encouraging words to son ~ Mother to Son. Marvel at Pablo Neruda’s stunning comparisons of women to nature ~ Body of A Woman.
Poetry has a rhythm that moves the reader and teases the Muse. Break out your old poetry anthology, check out a brilliant book by one of the aforementioned from the library. Let the words inspire what you pour onto the page.
I hear your heart racing, see the sweat across your brow. Calm down. Yes, 2018 is nearly done. It’s okay if your novel wasn’t completed, if much of the past 11 months were spent chasing the Muse or if you home office is a monument to rejection letters.
A new broom sweeps clean. Jan 2019 provides 365 days for enhanced creative output and the opportunity to splash into the pond of publication.
Spend the next two weeks soaking up the season and grab a bit of time to create a list of realistic and outlandish writing goals.
Eat cookies, drink eggnog, hangout with loved ones and scribble the occasional plot notes. The new year will arrive shortly and you will roll into it ready to succeed via mainstream publication, self-publishing, journaling or blogging.
Good riddance to it.