Quality of Life

Some people like to say, "Eat well, do good, get exercise, and die anyway," as some sort of excuse for partying, being unhealthy and/or being inconsiderate. This logic has no place in a happy, fulfilling and successful life. Regardless of when you die, you want the life you live today, and tomorrow to be the best life you can possibly have. There is no excuse for not doing the best for yourself and the best you can for those you love. Even if I were going to die in six months, I still would continue my diet exactly as I do (if not do even better) because I want the highest quality for my life. The quantity is quite irrelevant.

~Raederle Phoenix Jacot

"Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?" ~ M. C. Escher

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Craft of Writing

I attend a Writer's Group every other Tuesday evening. We have two scheduled hours, but sometimes we stay longer and chat. The two scheduled hours include half an hour for business at the beginning, followed by three readers who eat get ten to fifteen minutes to read, and then fifteen to twenty minutes of feedback (or we just chat about the piece until we have nothing left to say).

I was at the very first meeting a couple years ago, and until I moved to California I never missed a single meeting. Since I've moved back to Buffalo, New York, I have not missed a meeting. In just a short while I'll be heading off to one of the member's homes for tonight's meeting, which is a very special occasion for us.

Instead of doing the general three readers tonight, we'll be sharing our tips and tricks on writing itself. We'll talk about the craft. I'm really excited to hear the process behind the other writers in the group. We're friends now, the entire group, but while we've heard each other read a lot, and know much about the lives of one another, we have not yet done a meeting to discuss our craft at length.

For the meeting I've prepared a handout of some of my favorite writing advice from various sources as well as a couple things I think may be helpful to writer, even if not directly relating to writing itself.

The handout goes as follows:

A Collection of

Writer's Craft Tips

Assembled by Raederle Phoenix

"Good books don't give up all their secrets at once." — Stephen King

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." — Stephen King

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." — Stephen King (On Writing)

"Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on." — Stephen King (Bag of Bones)

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” — Stephen King (On Writing)

“Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.” — Stephen King

Bill Harper: “Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

“A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.”

Pete Bollini: "I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in."

Kukusha: "Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it."

Lillie Ammann: "After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud."

Professor Strunk: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

"David": "Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again."

Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Joanna Young: “One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.

“It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…”

Caroline: "I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.

"For example, in a sentence where you say …”you will have to…” I replace it with “…you must…”, or “Click on the Go button to…” can be replaced with “Click Go to…”.

"Think of words such as “enables”, instead of “allows you to” or “helps you to”.

"If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge."

Raederle: Only read your favorite writers when writing your masterpiece. What you read will affect your word choice, grammar, punctuation, point-of-view, character depth, syntax, etc. Just as your body is made up of what you eat, your writing is made up of what you read.

The reason I was inspired to use quotes from Steven King was because his wonderful book "On Writing" has helped my writing immensely. I loved the book through and through, and take Steven's advice seriously. Sure, he doesn't writing "my sort of thing" in terms of genre, but he's clearly a successful writer who knows what he's talking about.

*smiles warmly*

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

~ Raederle

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