Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guides for the Writing Life

"Spit out your story," Brooke Favero, a fellow middle grade writer, commented to me on my blog about three months ago. I bet she has no idea how powerful those words became. As I motored through my draft, her words echoed and echoed and . . . ech (ech) . . . oooed (oooed) in my brain. They swirled and twisted and kept me on track.

Now I'm living in the Land of Revision and the words tornado-ing my brain are these: "Writing well comes in revision." Someone tweeted those words to me not long ago. Revision is the place my characters develop more thoroughly, my plot strengthens in places it is spindly, critique partners advice is weighed and analyzed, and all those notes I made while spitting out my story can now meld themselves into the story itself.

These two short statements guide my writing life. They are my cornerstones as well as the pebbles in my writing world. Amid all the writing advice out there, my brain wove these simple statements into its writing thread. If I'm drafting, I say, "Spit out the story." When I'm revising, I say, "Writing well comes in revision." Do you have simple words that guide your writing life? Would you share them here?


  1. My simple words came from somebody on the NaNoWriMo forums. I noted them at the time, but found them echoing in my head later on and they've served me ever since. I wish I knew who'd said it! This is the wisdom I found: You cannot edit a blank page.

    Every time I want to pause, or wonder if it'll ever be any good, I remind myself of that -- I can't make it better until it's written!

  2. Lately, I've been using something my teacher said to me in Iowa. "Kristen, I think you're closer than you think you are."
    I really needed someone to say that to me, to keep going after the 2 years I've already spent spitting out, then revising, revising, revising.
    Keep it up, Barbara!

  3. "First drafts are messy."
    "Good critique is golden."

    Have fun with your revisions, Barbara.

  4. "Trust the process." Lauren Stringer said that to me when I was doubting myself and my writing. She reminded me that all the trials and all of the errors are part of the process of creating something new and that everyone's process is different. Trust the process is the mantra that frees me to trust my gut and experiment and to work through the times that feel like sludge.

  5. I've created my own saying when it comes to the motions of writing: Writing is like sour patch kids, some are sweet, others sour, all delicious.

    I say it because without one there isn't the other. It makes you stronger in both writing and in real life. Don't doubt yourself. Stephen King says to FIRST write for yourself, and SECOND write for everyone else.

    I've held those words the entire time I've written.

    GREAT BLOG! I aodre it here! I do hope you'll stop by Unedited and say hello! I can't wait to return!

  6. I adore reading these small bits about writing. Thank you, each of you! When I need a boost or a reminder about why I do what I do, your words will guide me as well.

  7. I've always loved "Don't get it right, get it written." (James Thurber)

  8. Darsa, thank you for visiting and thank you for sharing the quote. Absolutely, there's nothing to get right if you haven't written it!


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