Whoa, was I off base…

So, cut to: Guide to Literary Agents blog.

I’m entering the 30th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest [URL is also below].

Requirements: A first page of an unpublished middle grade fiction manuscript.

I pulled up a favorite piece and fully expected the first 300 words to need a mere light polishing.

Uhhhh, no. Major delusion.

Pen in hand, I started reading and winced at bloated phrasing, forced metaphors, and unnecessary details. Ugly, very ugly.

Luckily, I tightened things up and let it rest for a day.

Good thing.

Once again, the piece needed more clarification and a shifting of the sequence.

My conclusion: I’ve either improved the piece or I’ve locked into version two of my delusion.

Either way, I’m submitting it today.

Will it win? Shrug.

But did I win?

Absolutely. I picked up a heartless reminder to revise and revise some more. And, by putting my work in the hands of those who judge for a living, I’ve–at least for today–thumbed my nose at resistance.

Here’s the contest URL:  http://tinyurl.com/jb6max3 Come join me.

Today’s mini-lesson from Accidental Genius…

This book’s subtitle is: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing

I’ve been using the book to boost my ‘morning pages’ routine.

Mark Levy calls this Secret # 4: Write the Way You Think.

In other words, don’t edit for any audience other than yourself. In fact, don’t even edit for yourself. Just let’er rip, working from the assumption that you can and will, even years later, understand what you’re saying to yourself, no matter how many disconnected thoughts carom across your paper or screen.

He dissected a five-year-old sample of his own private writing to illustrate ‘writing the way we think’. He decided it was a good example to share because:

  1. He used kitchen language’, a term he borrowed from Ken Macrorie [  Link #1    Link #2  ]. Levy defines it as ‘your own slang’.
  2. He ‘kept quiet about things that needed no explanation’. In other words, he skipped clarifications because he was only writing for himself.
  3. He bounced from one topic to another, with no concern about logical connection between thoughts because he knows how he thinks.

My favorite line from this section:

prinvate-writing-mark-levy-3

 

My own excerpt:   Okay, morning pages, continued, doing the Accidental Genius Write the Way you think exercise. I’m not doing that yet as it still feels like I’m letting someone peek over my shoulder, but I’m getting there. I needed to turn the timer around as it was distracting…and so every day I need to choose myself and I should print out nuggest [the most convincing ones and post them up on the corkboard. Okay, that was good. I love this pen. I need fast moving pen tips that glide across the page…


From the Department of Neither Here Nor There:

Show me a TV ad for the SPCA, and you’ll get tears. Actually, I take that back. I wouldn’t stay in the room long enough for that to happen.

A ‘digest’ of previous posts…

Item 1:

Meeting my work head-on…

I’ve listened to and followed Srini Rao for about six months now. I always glean plenty from his insightful Unmistakable Creative podcast–a productive collaboration between himself and his guests– and from his weekly newsletter. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s topic: “The Power of One Focused Hour a Day”. I believe he originally wrote it in June of last year, which goes to show the power of ‘resharing’ valuable content on the Internet.

Note: He also suggests locking in your focused hour to your calendar rather than your digital or analog to-do list.

 

Item 2:

Teachable ‘course’–first steps…

It’s really more of a Teachable project [that I hope will benefit visitors].

It’s really more of a lab experience, even a tour of my process as I work on a first draft.

Sessions [not ‘lessons’] will consist of:

  1. excerpts of my first draft
  2. short screencasts and slide decks of my own editing/revising process
  3. thoughts on my challenges
  4. input from visitors to the course
  5. demonstrations/discussions of a variety of different writing tools, such as Scrivener, IdeaFisher [this piece of software is the prime reason I’ve hung on to my 3-ton eMac running System 9], and concept mapping programs such as Inspiration and MindMeister.
  6. short profiles of experienced, successful and generous writers and content creators who have helped nudge me forward.

So, basically, I have a lot to do.

If you’d like updates on the progress of the project, just fill in the contact form below. Use the comment box for questions and suggestions. Thanks very much!

 

Item 3:

Using an image and video for my post today…

Thought I would try some different post formats. I used the mindmapping software Inspiration today. Below is an image file of what I wanted to communicate to you.

Below the image is an eight-minute video demonstrating a few of Inspiration‘s features. [Reminder: I’m not trying to sell anything–just sharing what I like to experiment with.]

 

inspirations-for-writing-2

 

Use your fast-forward button liberally. You’ll get the gist of the program.

 

Item 4:

“You can’t wait for inspiration…”

“you have to go after it with a club.” –Jack London.

Seems lately I’ve been using a feather, at best.

I came across this list from WritetoDone.

Item #26–freewriting–reminded me to revisit The Accidental Genius by Mark Levy. If I had to narrow down my library to ten books, this would be one of them. [Reminder: This is a no-shilling-for-compensation blog. If I like something for my own purposes, I’ll mention it and hope it helps readers.]

My own additions to the list of inspiration sources:

  • A work in your field of interest/genre that you think you could substantially improve.
  • A previously successful work of your own.
  • An addendum to item #8 [Music]: Some writers loop one selection to help them achieve flow. This article might help explain what’s going on.

Okay, so I’m now inspired. Time to find my version of a Jack London club.

If You’re Trying to Teach Kids How to Write: What I’ve gleaned…

If You’re Trying to Teach Kids How to Write, You’ve Gotta Have This Book is one of the books I’ve been revisiting.

I probably never turned to page 20 when I used it for teaching, but the author insisted that we readers [i.e. teachers] take an inventory of ourselves as writers.

Fair enough…

Here were the questions she posed:

1. Do you like writing?

I absolutely do like writing, but I’m probably in a large club of writers who prefer the thrill of first-draftish writing–getting the ideas on paper. I also prefer pen-and-notebook to composing on a screen.

2. Do you think writing is hard, or easy, or both?

Writing is most certainly both. As I stated above, I do like first drafts, but it seems when it’s revision time, the hateful editor creeps in with not just nasty comments about word choice, etc. but more than a few intimations that my whole project–no matter how miniscule–is of questionable value. That’s when writing is hard. It’s also annoyingly difficult when a version from two weeks ago sounds better than what is currently on the screen.

3. How do you feel about yourself as a writer?

I don’t work hard enough. I don’t read enough. I don’t work past first draft level enough. Enough [catching the theme here?] said.

4. Have you grown as a writer in the past five years? How?

In some ways, I have grown as a writer. For one, posting this Q. and A. is a sign of growth. Working from resources like Jeff Goins’ You Are a Writer, Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work, and Mark Levy’s Accidental Genius shows I’m taking this all more seriously.

5. Can you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Along with the shortcomings mentioned in answer #3, I get bogged down with muddy middles and I let resistance waylay me far too often. [Sorry, S Pressfield! I’ll keep working on that.]

Strengths–I think I’ve come up with interesting premises for stories. And I’ve been told my dialogue isn’t bad.

 

Teachable ‘course’–first steps…

So, first of all, it’s not so much a Teachable course [though I hope visitors will learn from it].

It’s really more of a lab experience, even a tour of my process as I work on a first draft.

Sessions [not ‘lessons’] will consist of:

  1. excerpts of my first draft
  2. short screencasts and slide decks of my own editing/revising process
  3. thoughts on my challenges
  4. input from visitors to the course
  5. demonstrations/discussions of a variety of different writing tools, such as Scrivener, IdeaFisher [this piece of software is the prime reason I’ve hung on to my 3-ton eMac running System 9], and concept mapping programs such as Inspiration and MindMeister.
  6. short profiles of experienced, successful and generous writers and content creators who have helped nudge me forward.

So, basically, I have a lot to do.

If you’d like updates on the progress of the project, just fill in the contact form below. Use the comment box for questions and suggestions. Thanks very much!

Meeting my work head-on…

dogs-eye-to-eye

I’ve listened to and followed Srini Rao for about six months now. I always glean plenty from his insightful Unmistakable Creative podcast–a productive collaboration between himself and his guests– and from his weekly newsletter. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s topic: “The Power of One Focused Hour a Day”. I believe he originally wrote it in June of last year, which goes to show the power of ‘resharing’ valuable content on the Internet.

Note: He also suggests locking in your focused hour to your calendar rather than your digital or analog to-do list.