We’re here in Paris, and in honor of our trip, I’ve been reading A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway’s memoir about living and writing in the city. In the book, he reveals what I think is one of the hardest parts about being a serious writer, a writer who cares deeply about the quality of his or her prose.
Sidney Poitier said, “So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.” I am intrigued by how one person’s decision can impact the destiny of another human being. Today’s exercise will explore how one decision made on behalf of our central character, sets the course of his or her life.
Grammar is a funny thing. In the English language, there has been a great deal of evolution, both in words and in structure. Any Google search for “words we don’t use anymore” will come up with lists of vocabulary that no one has spoken since Matthew Crawley’s car wreck (spoiler alert).
As much as I may rage about using “proper” grammar, I also have to admit grammar itself undergoes major transformations, and there are two schools of thought about how to react to these changes: prescriptivism and descriptivism.
I am finally on the verge of submitting my first manuscript to agents after three years of drafting and editing, it’s satisfying to finally reach this milestone.
It’s also terrifying. Because a question is starting to haunt me: What if I don’t get picked?
Write about leaving (e.g. a young adult leaving for college, a wife leaving her abusive husband, a writer leaving for a great trip).
Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers.
Do you ever get stuck? No, of course you don’t. You’re a writer, and that never happens to us. Yeah right.
What do you do to break out and keep writing?
I found a new solution last year that has catapulted my production and creativity. Simple yet effective: pre-made book covers.
Some time ago, we did a speed writing session for one hour. Actually, compared to the usual 15-minute writing practices here, an hour might seem glacially slow. But we all know how fast an hour can speed by, especially when we’re wandering around aimlessly in the land of social media while our cursor blinks wistful and lonesome on our WIP in the background, buried multiple browser windows in.
Today, we’re going to do it again. But this time we have a theme. That theme is PAIN.
Before you click away from this page, worried that writing about pain will weigh down your bright and shiny day, think about it for a nanosecond. What is it that most great stories have? CONFLICT. TENSION. Antagonist (force) pushing the protagonist to evolve, grow, learn, progress, or erupt in gratuitous fill-in-the-blank.
Pain is part of conflict and part of life. Embrace it.
Anyone who has been following The Write Practice since day one knows how I feel about the semicolon, sentence structure, spelling, and other grammatical foibles. If a writer lacks any of these things in his or her work, it drives me crazy. I’ll start railing on about the destruction of the English language, the dumbing down of society, blah blah blah.
But why would any writer care about what I think?
Take fifteen minutes to write a paragraph or two based on this photo.
You’ve been working on your novel. You know you have strong characters and a great plot. You’re even excited to plan about your book promotion. The problem is, you still have dozens of chapters yet to write. Where are you going to find inspiration?