Sharpening the Ax

When reading my friend Dee Kincade’s blog a few days ago, I decided to ask her if I could have her permission to reprint it on my site this week. She has hit the nail on the head with her ideas on the importance of time spent in preparation for writing. Thanks, Dee!

A quote from Abraham Lincoln “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” 

The first time I read this quote by Abraham Lincoln I thought about the mountains of Colorado where my husband spend many hours each summer getting wood for the winter.


When we decided to use wood as our only source of heat, my husband talked to friends, researched the best chainsaws, and studied the different types of axes. Before he went out for the first time, he had to learn the art of where to cut the trees—uphill side or downhill. Do you notch the tree on the side of its lean, or does it matter.
I took the liberty to change President Lincoln’s famous quote to fit authors: “Give me six months to write and I will spend the first four learning how to do it.” Though it doesn’t quite fit, there are some basics that we all need to know before we sit down to write. What about the following? I didn’t know about ALL of them when I started writing.
Age group?
Three acts?
Point of view?
Show vs. Telling?
Manuscript set-up
What is acceptable in the current market?
I’ve seen people who’ve decided to write for the first time sit down and do just that. Later, after spending several hundred hours and dollars they have their book line edited. Only to have the manuscript rejected because they hadn’t taken the time to learn before they went out to chop the keys of their keyboard. Now they had to do back and learn the skills.
After the first year, my husband would spend a weekend each summer filling the gas cans, cleaning out the stove and flue, and sweeping up the wood chips from the previous year.  Next, he’d oil the chain saw, and sharpen the chainsaw and ax. Then he was finally ready to go to the forest and cut down the dead trees. The preparation, took as much time as it did to chop the trees. However, it was time was well spent.
As writers, not only do we have to learn the craft, but we need to continue learning, stay up to date with changes in the market, and study new techniques.
How do you stay current with new trends and stay in learning mode?
 A note from Dee:  I write Christian fantasy books for Young Adults and the young at heart. If you’d like to
find out more go to   I hope to see you there!

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