13 Writing Lessons Learned in 2013


In lieu of a New Year's resolution I've been reflecting on what how I've grown as a writer in the past year. The following are thirteen things I learned about writing in 2013.

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13. Yes, I have to cross my t's dot my I's and write a compelling story, but now matter what stage I'm at along the writing-publication journey, it does take a team. Critique partners, editors, agents, the behind the scenes elves who do so much to help build a book from laptop to print or digital imprint.

12. Inhabit the world and characters. Light a candle to evoke a sense of place or person or time, tack a picture on the wall to help visualize—wherevahhh. By bringing myself fully into the present moment of a scene or chapter, I'm better able to convey an authentic sense of place or character onto the page.

11. The simple, yet never to be underestimated writing tighteners outlined in this series by Kelley Harvey helped me find my way back into editing. The link leads to the first, but there are ten and worth a read.

10. Patience and persistence. Just keep at it. Don't give up.

9. There's always more to learn and strengths to be gained. I love the adage, "The more you learn the less you know." It's a reminder to always be open act as a sponge, soaking up as much as I can about the craft of story telling (and grammar.)

8. Show don't tell. I think I clinched this. For the most part. Um. Maybe...See above.

7. Some people, though well meaning, don't know what they're talking about. Other people really do. I've resolved to set my ego aside, listen with open ears, and then follow my heart (and sometimes my gut, they're good teammates) to discern what to take in and what to leave behind.

6. I see, I noticed, I turned and... some, somehow, well, so... Equal my sentence set/up disasters. Avoid these, lady!

5. I realized I have a system, it unfolded organically, but after seven manuscripts, it's become clear. After completing a draft, I do one read through and of course a grammar check. Then I let it simmer. After washing my mind of the project (eg. thinking about obsessively) I then print out and read again making notes, corrections, adjustments, etc. Then I step aside and let it marinate yet again. (Apart from the kitchen analogies, I do this for much longer than I would anything I'm going to eat.) Then I reread aloud. And then usually I'll read it one more time, all the while finding funny mistakes (missing letters, a forgotten quote, etc.) There's much more involved, but realizing I have a method surprised me.

4. Write authentically.

3. Read widely. In finding making time to write, I'd let reading take the back seat and averaged about a half-dozen books a month (this includes fiction and non.) But toward the end of 2013 I ramped that up and I'd say it's widened my vision of the writing craft quite a bit.

2. Silence the voice that says I'm not good enough and instead use that energy to make my work even better.

1. I absolutely LOVE to write. Witnessing pieces of my mind unfold into a story is a joy.


There you have it. Stay tuned for more to come in 2014. 



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