Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Keeping Stories Close

Years ago, a friend of mine wanted to write a book. She was inspired, and she thought about this story all the time. She had dreams about it, and the idea came up in conversation with her again and again. She told me all about the setting and the characters and what would happen. . . .

But there was some kind of disconnect.

Because in telling me all about her story (for months and months), she told the story. I'm not sure she ever wrote a word of it onto paper, even though it consumed her at this particular time in her life.


The story inside my friend just wanted out. It didn't care how it got out, or in what form. In this case, it was told through conversation. The excitement never carried over onto paper, because part of the thrill is in the first telling.

I feel like she wasted that first telling--that thrill--on me

This is why I think keeping our stories close to us, at least in the beginning, is crucial. I believe in accountability and brainstorming with others, but I find that the more I talk about what I'm working on, the less magic it seems to have.

The takeaway: Pour your energy into getting the words down. There will be plenty of opportunities to share them later. :D

(And always) Be Brilliant!


Friday, July 15, 2016

On Starting Now

You are the oldest today that you've ever been, and the youngest you will ever be again.

There is no "perfect" time or moment. (Parker and Jaden taught me that.) ;)

If you're not living your values or pursuing your dreams, are you even living? Really?

I'm a huge advocate of small first steps. Stop thinking about what could go wrong, and start thinking about what could go right. 

Be Brilliant!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Mistakes

(This year, for the most part, my blog posts have been advice/motivation-related. I write them because I need to hear them. If they help someone else, that's just a bonus.) :D    


Your past mistakes have nothing to do with your future. Mistakes are part of the growth process. Don't fixate on failures or the things you got "wrong." Look to them as learning experiences. 

Invest your energy in the now and know that the misstep you took yesterday doesn't have to hold you back today.

Be Brilliant!


Friday, July 8, 2016

On Failure

I love this idea from Brene Brown (which Liz Gilbert echoes) about trying and failing creatively. 

The old adage is:

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

The question that should be asked is:

What's worth doing, even if you fail?

"The only unique contribution we will make 
in this world will be born of creativity."

~Brene Brown~

Be Brilliant!


Friday, July 1, 2016

Editing Strategies

I've discussed editing strategies on the blog before, but I'm about to move into the editing stage of my current WIP, and, since my "process" is still largely the same now as it was back then, I thought these tips/tricks were worth repeating:

1. Read through the entire manuscript (ms) once, searching for plot or character inconsistencies.

If you can read through your entire ms in one sitting, you're more likely to find those holes or irregularities in your writing. 

2. Go line by line, sentence by sentence, making sure each one is phrased the best way possible.

When I do this, I bounce around the ms. (It helps me focus on that particular sentence.) I just use the highlight tool to keep track of the places that I've covered.

3. Read your work backwards (start with the last sentence and work your way to the beginning).

This will help you find sentences that may run on, or comma splices (two independent clauses that are connected with a comma). This also forces you to slow down and read what's really on the screen as opposed to what your mind thinks you've written.

4. Read your ms out loud. 

This helps with voice issues; you can also determine if your dialogue sounds natural. It's easier to focus on the pacing and flow when you read your own work aloud.

5. Use the MS Word "Find" feature to check for inconsistencies.*

I search for characters' names to verify spelling; I search for descriptions (blue eyes) to make sure the character descriptions are consistent; and I search for linking and "being" verbs, to see if any can be eliminated (among other things). 

6. Print your ms out. 

Proofread. Rinse. Repeat.

7. Have someone (or something) else reading the ms back to you.*

You don't know how many "a's," "the's," or "to's" I've missed in proofreading (even after several rounds), but caught when the computer didn't "read" what I thought was there back to me.

These are the highlights, but you can read the old post in its entirety here

Be Brilliant!


*Since the original post, I've started using Scrivener for my writing. This software includes search and find options, and will read selected text out loud. My love for Scrivener knows no bounds.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Five Things Roger Sterling Taught Us About Writing

I'm a huge fan of the show Mad Men, and was so sad when it ended last year. I loved the character development and dialogue, and one of my favorite characters in the show was Roger Sterling. He showed up more for "quips" than conversations, but he was one of the most quotable characters in the entire series.

 So, without further ado, here are five things Roger Sterling taught us about the writing life.

"Nobody knows what I'm doing. It's good for mystique." (S2, E5)

The takeaway: Yes, you want to be a writer. Own it. Tell the world. That doesn't mean you have to give away your secrets. You don't have to tell Aunt Ida every last detail about your work in progress. In fact, I wonder if we don't lose some of the magic of the story every time we give a little bit of it away. There will be a time to promote yourself and talk about your work; I'm just not sure if that time is in the middle of writing it. Keep your words close to you.

The exception: This doesn't apply to brainstorming with fellow writers or agents or editors (i.e. people who can legitimately help you).  

Otherwise, assure them you're working hard and let their minds fill in the blanks. Writing novels is rarely as exciting as outsiders think it is. 
"I'm going to count to three, and then I'm gonna start saying a lot of words you don't like, sweetheart." (S4, E7) 

The takeaway: Spew the crap. All of it. Get your story onto paper as fast as you can and don't look back. Count to three and let it all out. Write now; revise later. 

"What do you think Accounts does, besides limit your brilliance? (S3, E9)

The takeaway: You know that old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen? I think enlisting the help of friends, family members, writer's groups, editors, beta readers, etc. can be a good thing. With too many differing opinions, however, there are potential hazards. Feedback is great, but not at the expense of losing your story or voice. If you don't feel comfortable with a suggestion or see how it will make the story better, let it go. At the end of the day, it's your name on the cover. 

"My mother always said be careful what you wish for, because you'll get it, and then people get jealous and try to take it away from you." (S4, E6) 

The takeaway: If you're a writer, there's plenty drama going on in your head at any given time. Don't compound this by letting outside drama in, too. There are too many haters and not enough creators in the world. Stay away from the people who want to bring you down.

"Not to get too deep before the cocktail hour, but do I need to remind you of the finite nature of life?" (S2, E7)

You've got one life--one opportunity; don't squander it. If there's a book inside you, get it out. Don't look back five, ten, or fifteen years from now wishing you picked differently. Take the smallest, most manageable first step today. Your future self will thank you.

Be Brilliant!