Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Archive for June, 2013

Planting Carrots: Does Size Matter?

It’s SNEAK-PEEK SUNDAY!

The rules are simple. Six paragraphs and six paragraphs only; of any published work or WIP. No more. No less.

Planting Carrots: A Writers Garden is a WIP. In accordance with Sneak Peek Sunday’s rules, here are six paragraphs of the chapter entitled “Does Size Matter?’

Come back next week for more. Be sure to check out the other wonderful authors participating in Sneak-Peek Sunday.

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p_carrots in basketWe plant the carrots (or words and queries if you prefer); we sow the seeds and hope for an abundant harvest. Despite our best efforts, our diligent attention to our writing garden, the consistent watering, feeding and weeding; not all carrots grow to the same size.

Does size matter? Harvest is harvest and whatever the size of the harvest, it’s all edible.

As writers, when we’re establishing a career, making contacts and getting our name out there, any carrot is a good carrot, even if it’s small, petite and one-bite-sized. We earnestly write away, striving for those first published clips. Those first clips are glorious and exciting – even if given away for free. If a small pittance was sent our way for them, life is even better.

Eventually though, we discover that while even the itty-bitty carrots are edible, it takes a whole slew of tiny carrots to fill the basket.

Three and five cent a word markets get us clips. We’re published, hooray! But to grow a career, we have to keep looking for larger carrots. There is a time and a place for those free and low paying writing gigs. Sometimes there are other non-monetary benefits we receive from these tiny markets. But, when I got a $300 contract for a national magazine feature, it registered how many three cents a word children stories I had to write to equal this one big carrot.

Here’s to carrots, small and large, as they all add up to equal a writing career. I’ll keep sowing my seeds and tending my garden. And if the harvest includes a crop of smaller carrots nestled in amongst the larger ones, I’ll take those too. Overall, size does matter if we want to pay the bills and make a living writing, but that doesn’t mean I’ll throw away tiny opportunities either. Because I’m a writer, that’s what we do – we write.

 

Avoid Clichés

Using humor to ‘make his point’ about a writers use of cliches, Gary Provost shares this advice:

p_cliche“Clichés are a dime a dozen. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. They’ve been used once too often. They’ve outlived their usefulness. Their familiarity breeds contempt. They make the writer look as dumb as a doornail and they cause the reader to sleep like a log. So be sly as a fox. Avoid clichés like the plague. If you start to use one, drop it like a hot potato. Instead, be smart as a whip. Write something that is fresh as a daisy, cute as a button and sharp as a tack. Better safe than sorry.”

From 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing, by Gary Provost

Planting Carrots: Battling the Elements, Part 2

It’s SNEAK-PEEK SUNDAY!

The rules are simple. Six paragraphs and six paragraphs only; of any published work or WIP. No more. No less.

Planting Carrots: A Writers Garden is a WIP. In accordance with Sneak Peek Sunday’s rules, here are the next six paragraphs of the chapter entitled “Battling the Elements.’

Come back next week for more. Be sure to check out the other wonderful authors participating in Sneak-Peek Sunday.

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carrot pic 1Life happened. A friend I haven’t seen in twenty years was able to meet me for lunch. Naturally, this turned into a long lunch as we caught up on the past twenty years. Then, a three week old abandoned kitten was discovered in our car port. Consequently an emergency trip to the pet store ensued; bottles, milk replacement and necessary accouterments to care for a helpless, furry meowing creature. There went the rest of the night with nary a word written.

If these happenstances only occasionally interrupted my writing and plenty of words flowed from my fingertips, I would be content with the paragraphs and pages consistently adding up. Unfortunately, it’s all too common.

I think you know what I mean. I can hear your thoughts echoing from my keyboard. Dinners for the family, kids to run to soccer practice, homework to monitor, day jobs that consume all too much time and energy, older parents to shuttle on errands and to appointments, laundry to wash, gardens to weed and water; life happens to all of us, threatening to interfere with our inner writers.

Skip Press, in How to Write What You Want & Sell What You Write, says, “I’ve never known a ‘big name’ writer who didn’t maintain strict discipline with his or her writing schedule …”

What? Strict discipline with my writing schedule? What is this concept you speak of master?

Much as nature’s unexpected disasters can wreck havoc on our gardens, so too do these unexpected winds and storms of ‘real life’ threaten to destroy our writing time. We must jealously guard our time and set aside pockets of time to write. Otherwise we risk frittering away the day or the week and then it dawns on us that a month has passed and we’ve spent very little time on our Great American Novel, or memoir, or queries or whatever our individual writing goals and dreams are.

Sneak Peek Sunday: Planting Carrots-Battling the Elements Part 1

It’s SNEAK-PEEK SUNDAY!

The rules are simple. Six paragraphs and six paragraphs only; of any published work or WIP. No more. No less.

This is the first Sneak-Peek Sunday I’m participating in.Planting Carrots: A Writers Garden is a WIP. In accordance with Sneak Peek Sunday’s rules, here are the first six paragraphs of the chapter entitled “Battling the Elements.’

Come back next week for the continuation. Be sure to check out the other wonderful authors participating in Sneak-Peek Sunday.

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BATTLING THE ELEMENTS, Part 1carrot pic 1

‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions,’ Grandma Jones signed in her cramped, tight writing in my autograph book. It was 1969. Her words are the only ones I remember from oh, so many moons ago. This little girl was probably fascinated with the inscription, seeing Grandma using the “H-E-double-toothpicks” word.

At the time I had no idea what the phrase meant.

I’ve grown up since. Every so often the phrase comes floating back to the forefront of my consciousness. Yesterday it came bopping back into thought. This time it had to do with my writing life.

My writing life is filled with good intentions and grandiose plans. And then … the elements take their toll. Storms, droughts, floods and natures tormentors conspire against the picturesque and productive gardens we aspire having. Just as in our gardens, there are elements that deflect our best intentions for a productive writing practice.

This month, I was going to send so many queries. I was going to write so many blogs. I was going to add thousands of words to several WIP’s. I was going to socialize and network with other writers. I was going to ….

And then … life happened. I had a day off yesterday, the last day of the month, and as usual on one of my ‘days off’ I was going to write. I was going to catch up. I was giddy; I was going to get so much accomplished.

Twelve Ways to Give Your Words Power

writingFrom: 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing
By: Gary Provost

Twelve Ways to Give Your Words Power

  1. Use Short Words.
  2. Use Dense Words.
  3. Use Familiar Words.
  4. Use Active Verbs.
  5. Use Strong Verbs.
  6. Use Specific Nouns.
  7. Use the Active Voice … most of the time.
  8. Say Things in a Positive Way … most of the time.
  9. Be Specific.
  10. Use Statistics.
  11. Provide Facts.
  12. Put Emphatic Words at the End.

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing explains each piece of advice in greater detail. This writing resource should be in every writer’s library. I don’t use it every day. But when I do refer to this reference, I always find a nugget of wisdom to apply to my own writing.

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