Looking At It From A Different Angle

Have you ever thought that your hair looked pretty good until you viewed it in a three-way mirror and realized it didn’t look so great when you looked at it from a different angle?

Well, that’s kind of what it was like for me when, this morning, I received my manuscript for Runaways: The Long Journey Home in book format. Errors just popped out at me. It was like seeing my book from an entirely different angle—that of the potential reader.

If you are not yet a published author, or at least not to the point of seeing your book formatted, I’d like to share with you, over the course of my next few posts, some of the things that I noticed. Hopefully, they will help you avoid these mishaps.

As I scrolled through the pages, just for a visual reaction, I noticed right away that several of my chapters started almost identically. Sure, I had been careful to drop the reader into the middle of the action and I had identified the POV right away (good things I observed) but what stood out to me was the fact that the beginning sentence of quite a few chapters started with “Jake stared”, “Jake pounced”, “Jake stretched”… you get the picture.

This may not be wrong, but it is certainly bothersome to me—it lacks creativity and is lazy writing, in my opinion.

So, what will I do?  Rewrite, of course!

Although I often talk to myself about the curse of rewriting, in this case rewriting is my friend. It will save me from a huge embarrassment, even if I am the only one to notice it.

I cannot tell you the number of times that I have rewritten paragraphs, scenes, even entire chapters. Each time, things improve. This will be no different. I will look at it as a positive.

Will I ever be truly satisfied?  Probably not.

Will I ever click the “publish” button and give it the okay? I hope so.

There comes a point to where a writer just has to say that he or she has done all they can do.

A bad hair day doesn’t need to define us. We recomb, restyle, and respray. Then we have to be content and say, “That’s as good as it’s gonna get.”

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Revisit, Rethink, Revise, Rewrite

A lot can happen between January and April. A writing plan that is made at the beginning of the year, without revision, will simply not take us past spring, into summer and beyond. It’s time to revisit, update and, if necessary, rewrite.

Let’s ask ourselves these questions: Is my plan still working? Is it still realistic? What has changed in my life since the plan was written? Do those changes affect my being able to carry out the plan? If so, what needs to be adjusted?

Here is what I have found. The culprit in my efforts to keep to plan is time. When I wrote my plan in January, I failed to factor in time necessary for research, webinars, and writing-related reading. I hadn’t allowed for the hours necessary for completing submissions. And finally, I had scheduled so many hours of writing, that I hadn’t left enough time available for my personal life—attending family dinners, movies with my husband, walking the dog.

So, perhaps I need to write a life plan that includes devotions, writing, exercise, volunteering, family/friends activities, housework, and leisure. Writing can be a large part of that plan, but I need to allow for the unplanned, too—that surprise visit from Aunt Martha, an unexpected phone call, a refrigerator on the fritz.

This quarter, I am going to tackle this time problem, once and for all. First, I am not answering the door or the phone during my scheduled writing time. I’m going to take advantage of voicemail, email, and texting by answering once my writing time is completed.  Secondly, I am building in an hour of flex time into my day—time for the previously unexpected, which I am now going to dub the “expected interruptions.” I don’t know exactly when they will come, but I do know with a fair degree of certainty that they will come. And when they do, I’ll be ready.

I am hoping this new daily plan will keep me from getting frazzled and help me meet my husband at the door with a smile, rather than the wild-eyed look I have been famous for these last few months. And, oh yes, I am setting up a reward system. I am giving myself a little reward at the end of each day that I actually keep to my plan. Time to pleasure read, calling a friend and chatting (yes, a real conversation, not a text), enjoying lemonade on the patio, and watching a favorite television show are on my short list.

Your problem may not be time. Yours may be self-motivation or organization. No matter what they are, problems will remain problems, unless we meet them head on.

It all starts with a plan. A plan that is tweaked often so that we can better reach our writing goals. A plan that is rewarded in increments so that we are encouraged to keep on writing on a daily basis.

Someone will write words that will inspire others for generations to come. Will they be yours?

Brenda

Write or Rewrite?

Here’s what I think. Plain and simple. It’s a LOT more fun to write than to rewrite. In the case of writing, it’s the creative surge within—and as it flows out—onto the paper that makes it so enjoyable.

One moment the page is blank. Within a few minutes, the page is half-filled.

One moment, it is a small spark in the brain. The next, it is a living, breathing, growing organism.

A thought begets another thought. And that thought multiplies into a grouping of thoughts that are just begging to be a story. And that story is NOT GOING TO WAIT!

The ideas are coming so fast that there’s no time to check for grammar, spelling, or errors of any kind. They spill out and if they aren’t acknowledged right away, they fade, sneak, or even run away. It’s hard to recoup them. Often, it’s not possible.

So, like many of you, I have carry a pad of paper in my purse and a notebook in my car. If an idea comes into my head, I pull over and scribble it down. If I’m in a restaurant, a napkin may have to suffice. In the doctor’s office, I once wrote down an idea on the paper liner from the exam table. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So what happens when you are in the middle of writing and someone calls you to say, partake of luscious ribs from the grill?

That’s what just happened to me. Seriously. In the middle of writing this blog, my husband announced that the ribs were ready a good hour earlier than I had expected.

Now, I couldn’t disappoint the chef (or my stomach) so I closed down my writing program and graced my husband with my presence at the table. The ribs were great and I wasn’t sorry I let them interrupt my writing, but now I am back in front of the computer and I’m stalling…

Why? Because I’ve lost my momentum, my train of thought. I’ve forgotten where I was headed with all of this. Things aren’t quite gelling the way I had hoped. Scratch that. The way I had planned.

So, what should I do? Sit here and wait for inspiration? Pray for instant recall?

I’m gonna give this what I call the “Fifteen Minute Rule.”  This means that if, within the space of fifteen minutes, nothing earth shaking or mind blowing has taken place, I’m shutting it down. That’s right. I’m powering off.

Why? Because it is much more fun to write. Not so much fun to rewrite. (Editing, well that’s just a necessary evil. But that’s not what I’m writing about.) It’s not as exciting when you’ve lost that edge, that quirky way of expressing something ordinary in a new and different way that makes us all sit up and take notice and say: “Wow! That’s sure a new twist” or “Hum, I never thought about it that way before.”

So, go ahead and have a plate of delicious ribs, if you want to. But, as for me, I think I’ll pass—next time.