Thursday, April 05, 2012

For Writers - Setting Priorities

Happy hump day! Half-way to the weekend! Any cool plans? I'm off to the Missouri Writer's Guild conference to talk about mysteries and writing for teens and tweens. I just found out Claire Cook will be riding from the airport with me. Have you read her books? She's super adorable.

Anyway, this conference leaves me with a whole lot to get done before I leave, and not a lot of time to do it... which leads me to this week's tip: setting priorities.

Imagine you have a big bowl on your counter. Next to it are five oranges, a bag of peanuts, and two cups of popcorn kernels. You need to fit everything into the bowl. You can try this if you want to, but believe me when I tell you, if you dump the popcorn in first, toss in the peanuts, and then try to fit in the oranges, it's not going to fit. The little things took up too much space.

So imagine you put the oranges in first. They fit perfectly. And all the open spaces between the oranges? You can tuck the peanuts into those spaces. Now, carefully pour the popcorn kernels over the entire thing. They will find the even smaller spaces and sift into the bowl so that most everything fits.

Now imagine that the bowl is your writing time. The oranges represent you at the keyboard (or notepad), putting the story on the page. The peanuts represent fact-checking, revising, line-editing. That leaves us with the popcorn kernels. These represent all the other fun things we do to boost our creativity while writing the story... this can include creating character collages, maps of the setting, connecting with our writing friends on twitter and facebook for encouragement and commiseration. Note that if we've first put in the writing time (oranges), some of the popcorn kernels (online playground) slip in quite easily. Not all of them will fit - but the payoff is that we have words on the page... because we put them first.

Having said that, um... here's this week's list of links. Prioritize as you see fit. : )

The Tube-Fed Bride (Ginger Calem - Writer's Butt)

Writing Advice from Cory Doctorow (advicetowriters) Interview

Writing Advice from Lauren Oliver (LaurenOliver)

E.B. White on the Role and Responsibility of the Writer (Brain Pickings)

On Voice: Grit, Style, and Credence (Beyond the Margins)

Writing and the Art of Taking Criticism (Children's Publishing)

The Terrible Beauty of Understatement (Beyond the Margins)

The Good Seed (Writer Unboxed) On germinating great ideas by Donald Maass

How to write a 1-Page Synopsis (Publishing Crawl)

Advice to Aspiring Authors (Megan Crewe)

The Role of Reversal in Fiction (Beyond the Margins)

10 Misconceptions on Writing for Children (Writer's Digest)

Who is Your Target Reader? (Writer's Digest)

The Power of Words (Beyond the Margins)

On Word Choice (Gail Carson Levine)

Why Writing Through Resistance is Essential (Writability)

On Pushing Yourself to be Better (Writer Unboxed)

How to Balance Dialog and Description (Write it Sideways)

Ways to be a More Productive Writer (The Other Side of the Story - pt 1) (TOSOTS - pt 2)

The Power of What If (Romance University)

The True Essence of Character (Live, Write, Thrive)

6 Essential Elements for Riveting Novels (Paul Anthony Shortt)

Crafting that First Scene (How to Write a Novel)

When Not to Tell Your Character's Backstory (Wordplay)

Plotting and the Premise (Writing Fiction Right)

Writing that First Line (The Writer's Alley)

Writing Truthfully in Imaginary Circumstances (Writers in the Storm)

Discipline can be a Good Thing (A Writer's Life)

4 Key Elements Every Pitch Needs (Romance University)

Gotcha Blurbs - Easy and Fun to Write (Writers in the Storm)

Making Readers Turn the Page (Novel Rocket)

Character Connection (Seeing Creative)

The Good Seed - How's Your Premise? (Writer Unboxed)

Shape Up Flabby Writing (Write it Sideways)

Goals: Does Every Character Need the Same One? (The Other Side of the Story)

Now go manage your time well, and write!