Saturday, May 28, 2016



Every author has writing tips to share, a collection of helpful hints to guide the new writer. My brand of advice might be better described as a list of pitfalls to avoid.

First, I must warn you not to take me too seriously. I never do.

To be a successful writer, you must follow these simple rules:


This is not an easy rule. Our bodies are designed to reproduce. Countless sleepless nights and cold meals later, we may wonder what the heck our ticking clocks were thinking.

The truth is that having kids makes it more difficult to find time to write.

Don't believe me? See the evidence listed below.


Here's an example: (picture yourself at the desk, typing your latest romance novel)

"They breathed as one. A rapid, urgent breath demanding more, demanding everything. His burning kisses danced down her neck to--"

Thing One (your handsome, fiber-loaded son):  "Mom, I clogged the toilet again!"

Kind of ruins the mood, doesn't it?

And if a clogged toilet doesn't scare you, let's move on to a higher level of disruption.


"The demon flew at her face, pecking at her eyes until she could no longer see, slashing at her legs until both feet slipped in blood. She had failed. Even the scepter raised in her hand--"

Thing Two (your beautiful, tattle-tale daughter):  "Mom, Fred ate too many strawberries and puked all over the bathroom. The dogs are rolling in it, and someone's at the front door selling pizzas."

Yep, you're done writing for the night.

I'm telling you, kids are trouble. They get bored on the first day of summer vacation. And don't wear a skirt to church--they'll flash your panties to the whole congregation.

But my life, and by extension my writing, would be so boring without them.
I've never laughed so hard, felt so tired, or been driven so crazy until I had kids.

I'm not claiming that everyone on the planet has to reproduce, and I know I'd step on a lot less Legos in the dark (sheer torture) if I hadn't, but I wouldn't change a thing.


Many writers insist that every single day you must sit down and write X number of words. I don't agree with this rule, but it's one I've seen a lot. I honestly can't write every day, but make up for it on days when I write a ton. It all balances out in the end.

I won't dispute the fact that some personalities need specific daily guidelines to follow. I'm here to suggest the opposite. I want you to explore everything other than writing. Take days off. Go hiking. Learn how to paint.

Don't write in a vacuum and don’t live in a vacuum, either. Yes, I love escaping the real world and hiding in a book, but that's not the only way to live. Explore beautiful parks. Don't just have book boyfriends. Experience real feelings for yourself.

If you're stuck writing a scene, your muse has deserted you, or everything you write seems stale, maybe you just need to cleanse your palate. Like sniffing coffee beans between sampling various perfumes, back away from your computer and step outside. Let the sun shine on your skin. Listen to the wind in the trees. Expand your mind, clean your soul, and breathe fresh air into your brain.


Like Nick Dunne of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, this is the point where I confess something that might make you hate me. I'm a calendar-orientated, checklist-obsessed, anti-procrastinator. I have to get things done. I'm no good at relaxing. The bigger the project, the closer I am to finishing (but not quite there yet…), the tenser I become. No, tense is not the right word. More like crabby. Or, let's be honest, I turn into the B-word. I know it's true. And don't you dare blame it on my cycle, buddy. I've got Aleve and chocolate for that, but the only cure for my B-level ailment is to finish the project at hand.

Then I'm suddenly a free bird, ready to spread my wings, read a fun book, and sip a cold drink…

Yeah, right, I just move on to the next item on my check-off list.

The moral of this story is that everyone else in the house shouldn't have to suffer just because you are a writer. To be honest, I'm a work in progress as far as this is concerned.


Why should you do a single thing I say? Ah, listen to me laugh. Because you're right. Maybe my ideas won't work for you. But you're missing the point I'm trying to make.

Every writer needs to devise their own rules. And then break them. Be flexible--and I don't just mean yoga, although I'd also recommend that as well. Nobody else can tell you exactly how to live, although it's fine to research other people's opinions. Just remember to make up your own mind in the end.

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