the exciting momentum of good writing days

 

jetpens
(It’s like they know me. Jetpens)

I have recently happened to have several good writing days back-to-back. A good day for me looks like: spending quality time (ie a lot) doing the work (butt in the chair) and coming away with a positive feeling, that the work in progress has been improved. My boyfriend gave me a new notebook (The Crossfield from Nanami Paper) which prompted me to dig back into my fountain pens. (I’m using my big fat Jinhao 159s from Jet Pens with my rainbow of Diamine inks from Vanness.) Handwriting is just one more way I can change the pace and see things anew. The goal should always be to distance enough from the work that we can cut mercilessly! In order to get it in the best shape we can.

vanness
(Seriously, it’s like they know me. Vanness)

I decided to incorporate a previously separate piece (3rd person fictionalized memoir set during junior high) into the larger manuscript I’m crafting (1st person memoir set during high school, college, etc.), which has been an exciting breath of life into the whole project. Writing new connective tissue, dropping into scenes with dialogue instead of breezing past with narration, changing perspectives from third to first! And you’d best believe I’m droppin’ bombs on Google Search like a mumma frumma. (I’ll include some of the fun ones in a separate post.)

Significantly, I was also able to pick back up the commentary from A Famous Author I received a couple of years ago, and receive the positive and negative notations without the emotional smack I experienced when I first reviewed them. That’s a great sign, because it’s another indicator that I’ve gotten farther from the material emotionally and will be able to chop it up till only the good bits are left! Welp, that’s the goal.
On my drives to work I’m listening to the audiobook Killing Commendatore, the latest from Murakami Haruki (one of my all-time favorite writers), and the synchronicity (or utter chaos) of the Universe just so happened to lead me to this timely point in the book where two main characters are discussing creativity:

“Menshiki said, ‘It’s like an earthquake deep under the sea, in an unseen world, a place where light doesn’t reach, in the realm of the unconscious. In other words, a major transformation is taking place.  It reaches the surface, where it sets off a series of reactions and eventually takes form where we can see it with our own eyes… The best ideas are thoughts that appear unbidden from out of the dark.’ ” —Murakami Haruki, Killing Commendatore

 

Meanwhile, I’ve had that itchy thought in the back of my head for a while now reminding myself to find “that beads quote,” because I couldn’t remember exactly how it went or who said it but I remembered thinking when I read it that it was really good, and that I should hold onto it. So I finally remembered while at a computer instead of, say, behind the wheel, to do just that.

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten—happy, absorbed, quietly putting one bead on after another.” —Brenda Ueland, If You Want To Write

 


Isn’t that just too good!? I love it. Not surprisingly, it’s everywhere all over the internet, but now it’s here too, so there. I hope your writing is going well. I hope you’ve found your flow and you have happy, easy days where the words just pour from your fingertips. But if that’s not the case right now, that’s okay too. Just don’t give up. Bad days don’t last forever, and the act of always coming back is so much more important than the results of a single session. “The master has failed more times than the beginner has tried.” Let’s always keep trying.

If you need encouragement, read Dr. Mrs. Stephanie Vanderslice‘s new book, The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life. I absolutely adored it and it may just contain the exact words you needed to hear.

Love,
Jobe

geeksguide

30-Day Challenge

Everyone loves a good 30-day challenge. Renegade Millionaire Robert Minton says he loves them because they compound:

“If you continue each 30 day challenge after the initial 30 days, you can dramatically change your life as time passes. One positive change becomes 6, 12, 24, 48 positive changes.”

And it’s true. Great habits that you can keep going after the challenge is complete feel really good. For those of us writers out there (and I suspect we are legion) I thought it could be fun to start the new year with an Editing Challenge.

So I’m thinking about editing and how best to invent this challenge that works for everybody, and apparently a Google search for “30 Day Editing Challenge” is a great way to get results—if you’re into film editing. (Which is not what I was looking for.) There are tons of images, Pinterest hits, and YouTube clips focused on 30-day challenges for AV peeps, many having to do with favorite tv characters or songs. But “30 Day Editing Challenge” presents a severe dirth of suggestions for writerly folks, which kinda surprised me.

Then it hit me. We can play the 30-Day Minimalism Game!

Day 1 – get rid of 1 thing
Day 2 – get rid of 2 things
Day 3 – get rid of 3 things

Only we’ll discard edited pages! See! It’s brilliant, right!? (Total genius. I know. Sometimes I amaze even myself.) And you can use the hashtag “minsgame” if you’re an Instragrammar (te he) like me.

The idea would be to take a huge stack of edits you’ve gotten back from peers, profs, or printed out and marked up yourself, and commit yourself to working through that stack, whittling it down to nothing by the end of the month.

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I had trouble holding everything still with the measuring tape in one hand and the camera in the other, but my stack is roughly 2″ tall. (And that’s just for the project I’m currently working on.) I’m not the only one who has one of these, right?

But maybe not everybody has a physical pile of pages, and a 30-day editing challenge could use some more editing-based structure. So then I thought, hey, we could work through editing and revision tips and tricks, kind of a mix n’ match style build-your-own. That way everybody can apply what works best for them. And Expert Editor Duncan Koerber helpfully provides 100 tips! That’s more than enough to choose from, surely? Pick one a day for 30 days. But just in case, if you’re the kind who wants specific, daily structure, Writerly Life’s Blair Hurley did exactly that.

Maybe you don’t have feedback from other people, but you’ve got something on the page that’s in a sorry state—perhaps a nano novel recently scribed? You could print that out. Or you could do a “file–> save as” to save the original to judge against the copy you’re changing.  Because deleting 18 pages counts as 18 pages even if you can’t “see” the result! For the nano-ers, here are 6 steps to try from the nano blog, and not surprisingly, Lifehacker has some good words for us too.

If all of this sounds like great fun but you just want to quick-fast-and-in-a-hurry version, I’ve compiled some of the most common editing and revision suggestions below:

  • Show Don’t Tell – mark up your draft with two different colors, one for Show, and one for Tell. It’s okay to use both (action and narration) but if you’ve got huge unbroken chunks of just one or the other, you might look closer.
  • Active vs Passive – mark up your draft with two different colors, one for Active, and one for Passive.

Try These Tools

 


The Writing Center says:

  • Proofread for only one kind of error at a time. If you try to identify and revise too many things at once, you risk losing focus, and your proofreading will be less effective. It’s easier to catch grammar errors if you aren’t checking punctuation and spelling at the same time. In addition, some of the techniques that work well for spotting one kind of mistake won’t catch others.

The Grammarly Blog puts it into words this way:

  • Edit in multiple rounds. Go through at least twice for ‘higher’ concerns (what is missing? Who is the target audience, and is it written with them in mind?) and then ‘lower’ concerns, such as grammar, spelling, punctuation.

And Expert Editor concurs:

  • Look for one type of problem at a time. Don’t go into editing or proofreading attempting to find every problem in one pass. It’s hard for our brains to remember a long list of editing and proofreading categories. Instead, make multiple passes through the document. For example, you could choose to look only for wordiness or only for punctuation. This approach keeps your mind focused. If you look for every possible error in one pass, you’re more likely to miss errors.

The Muse says:

  • Nix Adverbs and Adjectives as Often as Possible. On your printout, mark through every adjective and adverb you see, and then add back the ones that you think are absolutely necessary. When in doubt, find a verb that says it better.

The University of Toronto agrees, telling us to:

  • Elevate the verb, so that the real action of the verb occupies the role of verb in the sentence. 

The Writing Cooperative reminds us:

  • If a sentence doesn’t add something new, it doesn’t matter how beautifully written it is: CUT IT OUT!

The Write Life adds this tidbit:

  • Replace negative with positive. Instead of saying what something isn’t, say what it is. “You don’t want to make these mistakes in your writing” could be better stated as “You want to avoid these mistakes in your writing.” It’s more straightforward. If you find negative statements in your writing that contain don’t, shouldn’t, can’t or another such word, find a way to rewrite them without the “not.” That will probably mean you need to find a more powerful verb.

Defiance College provides a handy graphic to differentiate revision vs editing, in case it concerns you, though I’d say let’s do all of them:

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And basically all the sources ever will give you these same pieces of advice:

  • Read it out loud.
  • Read it backwards.
  • Have someone else read it.

Constant Content adds this modern addition:

  • Read Your Writing in a New Format. If you typed it, print it out. Alternatively, convert your Word document to PDF format, or change your text to a different font, color, and size. These techniques will help you see your content from an “outsider’s” perspective and give you a more critical eye.

And always remember to:

  • Say it with a simpler word!

OKAY! We ready to rock this 30-day challenge? Let me know how it’s going! Much Love,
Jobe

How to Make a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word in 6 Easy Steps

If you’re like me,  you pride yourself on all the little Word tricks you’ve picked up over the years. Anybody who’s been writing for a while has had to get to know the features, and you’ve probably memorized anything you use often. Maybe you’re even the go-to person to ask for shortcuts and key commands. But a Table of Contents just isn’t one of those things you need very often. So don’t feel embarassed if you, too, forgot how to make one. Here’s how, and it’s a snap.

1. Select your chapter title.

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2. Turn it into a Header. (Repeat for all chapter titles.)

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3. Place your cursor where you want your TOC.

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4. Click “References,” then “Table of Contents,” then “Automatic Table 2.”

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5. Boom! It’s that easy! You can change fonts etc. to your heart’s content but you don’t have to worry about tricksy formatting. This built-in tool will automatically keep track of chapter titles and page numbers.

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6. Just “update” whenever you make changes.

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Ta Da! Fun bonus fact, making a TOC this way also turns your chapter titles into hyperlinks: Ctrl+Click a chapter title in the TOC to move to that part of your document. Cheers, and happy writing!

Jobe

Thursday Writers w Jobe

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Source Title Wave

 

In case you need to know the names for countless groups of animals, Grammarly has got you covered.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Their slogan is “We match writers to the publishers looking for stories just like theirs.” I found them on facebook.

 

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Source The Writer’s Circle

Back to Basics: Writing Workshop w Jobe

September
Back to Basics: Writing Workshop w Jobe
TOMORROW: Saturday September 10th from 10am-12pm
Classes are free, optional $5 donation

Moore Art Supply and More
1015 Deer St., Conway, AR 72032
(501) 504-6968
Like them on Facebook!

Whether you’re an old pro or just getting started, a daily devotee or embarrassingly blocked, this writing class is for you. Jobe will review all the best tips for establishing or re-establishing your writing habit. Let’s talk about great writing, great writers, getting inspired, and staying on track. Come together and find your local writing community.