Tuesday, August 02, 2011

For Writers - Shark Week!

This week's tip celebrates Shark Week.

A lot of people believe sharks have to keep swimming all the time or they will die. As a result, there's an analogy floating around out there that writers are like sharks because for us writing is swimming... we must keep writing/swimming or we will die. (I can hear Dory from Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim!)

But here's the thing; while it's true that some sharks need constant motion to keep oxygen-rich water flowing over their gills, others are able to pass water through their respiratory system to breathe. Those sharks can rest on the ocean floor without keeling over. So where does that leave writers? Minus one cool analogy?

Not so quick. Here's something else about sharks we can relate to. "Unlike bony fishes, which tend to be restricted to certain depth ranges, sharks are able to move easily between varying depths in the water. Bony fishes utilize swim bladders to move up or down vertically in the water or remain at a uniform depth... sharks don't have a swim bladder." (American Museum of Natural History) This cool adaptation allows sharks to move up and down freely, exploring in a way the depth-confined bony fishes could only dream of. But since sharks don't have that bladder to provide buoyancy, they have to keep swimming, or they will sink.

So there you go. Writers are like sharks, not because we'll die if we aren't constantly writing, but because if we don't consistently write, we will sink. We will lose our momentum. Our buoyancy. We need to be constantly exploring, feeding on the chum that life throws at us. Making forward progress. We are writers. We write.

On Saturday, I had the privilege of doing a book event with , and . One of the attendees asked if we could share our daily writing process. What I found interesting was that every one of those authors on the panel are prolific, disciplined writers, and each one had a different process. Kay Cassidy challenges herself to complete a scene before she calls it a day. Saundra Mitchell sticks to a word count. We all write just a little bit differently, but the one thing we had in common was that we keep writing.

So here's my challenge to you for August. Choose a goal. It can be a certain number of words per day, a certain amount of time, a completed scene, a number of pages. Whatever works for your process, set the goal. Keep it realistic. Now commit to meeting that goal every day this month. Keep writing, writing, writing. And enjoy the freedom the bony fishes will never understand.


The Long and Persistent Road (AdventuresInChildrensPublishing) Just keep swimming...

Was Giving Up Ever an Option? (QueryTracker) Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...

Keeping the Faith (WriterUnboxed) What do we do? We swim!

Multi-book deals Pros and Cons (Clarion) Market insights from Ginger Clark

Speech mannerisms and body language (JudyMusil) More gold in the comments as well.

Key Conflict is Key (ScottEgan) Dump the rest.

Oranges and Apples - finding comfort in your own skin (WriterUnboxed) "In the end, we are all fruit." (Quick! Who said that?)

How to Write a Query Letter (RachelleGarnder) Advice from an agent

Basic Pitch Formula for Novelists (JaneFriedman) From the Midwest Writers Workshops

Learning about plot and story telling from The Purple Crayon and Tana French (TheMillions) Excellent essay.

3 Mortal Sins of Fiction (Wordplay) Interrupting, Preaching, Apologizing

5 Ways to Kick Your Writing Up a Notch (TheOtherSideoftheStory)

6 Structural Problems Writers Face (WriterUnboxed) and how to fix them

My Tools of the Trade (YA Muses) Some old, some new (some borrowed, some blue?)

The ABC's of Story Structure (AdventuresInChildren'sPublishing) Simplified 3-act structure

Stop Sabotaging Your Writing! (WOW) We can join recovery together...

Now go. Write!