How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blogiversary Alphabet: J is for Just Do It

No, this isn't a Nike commercial. But when it comes to writing, running (or any kind of exercise program), or setting up a new personal goal on a daily basis, it JUST makes sense.

Just Do It
Just Show Up
Just Be There
Just Invite the Muse
Just Pray
Just Read
Just Run (Hey, my favorite running specialty store is called Jus' Running...)
Just Write

In the book referred to me by my dad (and then later by a co-worker), Younger Next Year, the authors say when it comes to exercise, just show up. If you want to be healthy for the rest of your life and be younger next year and live like you're 50 until you're 80 and beyond, then show up 6 days a week and exercise. Just show up. Showing up is half the battle.

So that should be easy enough advice to apply to writing, right? The thing is, you have to know what writing is and what it isn't. Walking or running (or both) on the treadmill is certainly exercising. It's SHOWING UP. Dawdling, spending ten minutes to get clothes and shoes on, spending five minutes to drink water and fill up a water bottle, spending ten minutes to stretch, getting sidetracked by first taking out the trash or putting away last night's dishes, spending five minutes to look for your watch, blowing your nose (again) is NOT showing up. You want to run? RUN! You want to write? WRITE!

Here's how SHOWING UP in writing looks: you pull out your manuscript, quickly reread over the last chapter or page or paragraph, make a few notes, write a couple changes, reword a few sentences, add another scene, think about what the character will do next, write a few more paragraphs while trying to figure out the best possible ending. OR you have the first draft done and now it's time to incorporate all your critique group's comments. You've already read through them. You write the ones down that make sense to you and you incorporate them into your ms because you agree with them. The might be simple suggestions such as word choice, grammar, syntax, punctuation, names, verbs, etc. Or they might go deeper and ask profound questions such as why is your character acting that way, what might a better ending be, suggestions for how to move around scenes or new ideas to help the story become stronger. To me, revising IS writing! Or maybe you're composing a cover letter or a query letter to send to an editor or agent. That's still writing. JUST SHOW UP!

But if you're anything like how I've been lately, I "say" I'm writing, but I'm really just "still putting on my socks." Composing a blog post. Checking and answering e-mail. Writing a list of people to contact about a contest. Reading other people's blogs. Commenting on blogs. Tweeting about my contest on twitter. Reading book reviews. Looking at the pictures in a picture book. Planning future blog posts. Critiquing others manuscripts. Glancing in my market book. Wondering which running race I should enter next. Entering a book giveaway. And, oh yeah, I'm supposed to send out two manuscripts this month. When am I ever going to get those cover/query letters written? I'm all out of time. If I don't get to bed right now, I won't wake up to go running. So now I'll make a quick list of SPECIFIC tasks to accomplish the next time, preferably the next DAY, like actually revising my latest letters and putting the first publisher's addresses on them so I can actually print them out and mail off my two mss for the month.

Get it? Got it? Good! SHOW UP!!!

Keep on keepin' on...

5 comments:

  1. I can so relate! I am definitely spending too much time in the "sock" phase right now. But it's tough. Yes, we have to write. But we also have to have a web presence, promote ourselves, do our own marketing, and schedule, organize and carry out school visits. I find it hard to strike a good balance!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great, motivating post that speaks directly to me! Now, all I have to do is stop blogging and pull out that WIP like I started to do.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Balance must be the secret to life. If we knew how to achieve it, life might actually seem easy. Okay at least sometimes it might.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are so right Christie. These days I try and write first then do blog stuff/reading comments. I've just got a puppy so my time is even more divided. I know 2 pbs are ready at last so I will slowly work on query letters and who to send them to??? One ms I still want to story board and another WIP I've been told to turn the MC into a boy from a kangaroo and for now I'm going against it. I managed to find some similar styles to mine and similar lengths in the library so I'm changing up the start and continuing with edits and I might even draw a few stick type illos. It's a very exciting time, but with puppy it will be a slow exciting time if that makes sense :P
    I think balance is overated, my favorite advice from WriteOnCon last year was to let a different thing slide each week, so you're not always forsaking the same issue.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, Catherine, I had completely forgotten about the letting things slide route. Let's see, weeks 1-3 was laundry. Weeks 4 was dishes. Weeks 5-7 was dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. Week 8 was bills. Oh, and I STILL have Christmas decorations to take down... Oh I guess I already was letting things slide. Shucks. And here I thought I was getting the big brakes.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you! Share your thoughts below.

AddToAny

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...