Thursday, January 19, 2012

On Staying Intense and Gazelle-ish

Last year in school, my whole grade had to take a semester of Financial Literacy—we used the Dave Ramsey course.  I know that probably doesn’t seem very relevant (um, at all), but one expression he used stuck with me and reminds me of writing.

 He always said that when a person is in debt, s/he needs to use “gazelle-like intensity” to get out of that debt.  Now I use the phrase for my writing, when I’m struggling with free time or motivation or deadlines or whatever. 

Sure, we all need breaks.  We all need time for the other part of life, and the people and things who fill it.  But whenever I’m having trouble—especially when the goal is so close, and I can see the end—I have to remember that and push toward the end.

It’s ridiculous, the analogies my brain likes to keep around.

Anyways, here are a few tips for staying intense and gazelle-like:

1)       Think of why you started writing this in the first place.  Even if it’s just as a personal hobby, there’s still a goal involved, isn’t there?
2)      Read what motivates and inspires you.  Maybe it’s an interview of an author who went through a lot on her/his way to publication, struggled with the book itself, or just signed with an agent.  Maybe it’s an amazing book you love to read over and over again to remind yourself what you can someday attain.  Maybe it’s the not-so-amazing book you know you can do better than—and it got published, didn’t it?
3)      Deprive yourself of food, drink, and sunlight until you’re finished.  That way—

Well, scratch the last one.  But still.

What are some of your tips for maintaining the gazelle-like intensity and meeting deadlines, goals, etc.?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

You Put the Comma In, You Take the Comma Out...

Bonus points to anyone who read the title of this post to the tune of “The Hokey Pokey.”

Anyway, the inspiration for this post comes from the brilliant Oscar Wilde, whose The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my all-time favorite books:

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

I guess Oscar just must’ve been having one of those days.  Don’t we all?

I tend to have these moments more along the way than in final editing—I get all OCD with the minor wording, and my backspace button probably hates me for being a slave driver.  (When I go old-school and write by hand, I usually end up with at least 25% of the lines marked out.  If my laptop’s backspace button probably hates me, trees definitely do.)

The OCD approach saves me a little time in the long run—less editing to do later on—but also kills some of my effort when revisions set in and scenes get slashed.  I’d consider trying to reign in the internal editor for a bit, since that seems like the wise thing to do, but I’ve never been wise and I’d rather just stick with my writing flow, idiosyncrasies and all.  Which begs the question.

Have you ever had one of those days, full of scribbled lines or extra bonding time with your backspace button?  Which describes you—“obsessive-compulsive” corrector or “I locked my internal editor in the closet (gagged and bound)” kidnapper?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Apparently, Enough is Enough

For the most part, we all know the more routine clichés—but you should also be on the lookout for some of the newer offenders.

Every year since 1975, Lake Superior State University in Michigan has released a list of overused words/phrases for each year.  And while you may have already seen this, I couldn’t help but pass on this list for 2011.

Realistically, I know this list doesn’t mean much—if you’re going to use the term “baby bump,” there aren’t exactly a ton of alternatives, and I think “ginormous” is a pretty rad word.  But it’s still amusing to see what words the public tends to get sick of.

You can read about the history behind the banished words lists here, by the way.

So, what about you?  Any words or expressions you’d like to kill off?  Any words you have a tendency to overuse?  Because I'll admit, I'm guilty of using "pretty much" and "not exactly" too much.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Come On -- We Know You Have Them

Resolutions, that is.  Now that the new year’s rolled around and everyone’s swapping 2011 calendars out for shiny new ones, most people are also working toward personal goals.

That’s right.  The New Year’s Resolutions are upon us.  A whole nother year of opportunities. One of mine is to blog consistently and on schedule this year: Thursdays and Sundays.  That means no more long, unannounced blogging vacations—sorry about that, but I needed to focus on rewrites.  I’ll be visiting your blogs more regularly, too.  Scout’s honor.

Realistically, I know a ton of people have a ton of resolutions that never pan out.  And that I’m usually one of those people.  But that doesn’t keep me from setting them, because A) it’s always nice to have something to work toward and B) I’m always up for a good laugh.

And like countless other writers, I’ve got some writing-oriented goals in mind.  I figure you probably do, too, so here’s a quote from the Walt Disney to keep us motivated and inspired:

“Get a good idea and stay with it.  Dog it, and work at it until it’s done right.”

So even if you quit your diet, don’t succeed with your plans for world domination, or fail on the whole “be a better person” concept, remember—stick with your writing resolutions as best you can.  Go all Walt Disney on those things.

Any writing resolutions you’d like to share?  Looking back at 2011, how’d similar resolutions work out for you last year?