Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flex Your Muscles

"Write every day."
"How would Yo-yo Ma sound if he didn't practice that cello every day?"
"Do you want a surgeon operating on you who didn't work on his skills?"
 "What about Michael Jordan or Larry Bird or Kobe Bryant? Or Jack Nicklaus? Would they be any good at their game if they never practiced?"
How many times have we heard someone say something like that? I heard "Write every day" for the first time way back in 1985 when I started taking classes and getting serious about my writing. I've heard it several times a year ever since. Every class I ever took that's the first thing the teacher said. "Write. Every. Day."

Okay. That sounds like good advice. What do I write about? How many times have you sat staring at the blank screen or the pristine sheet of paper and wondered how to get started? I have. Many times. That's no excuse, however. A ton of things exist out there to get you started.

Online, go to and click on the box. "Today this sentence popped out: The rich jungle guide climbed the wall in the ballroom for the grandmother." Surely we can get a story out of that. After all, we're writers, aren't we? Go to Every Friday a new prompt is posted. Another weekly site is Subscribe to THE TIME IS NOW and every Thursday they'll send a fiction prompt, a poetry prompt, and something new, a creative nonfiction prompt, to your inbox.

That's just a few you can find on the Internet. Next time I'll tell you about some of the books out there.
So go ahead and flex those writing muscles.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Are You Portable?

The March issue of The Writer magazine has an interesting article by David Harris Ebenbach titled "The Portable Writer." He says he worries when he hears a writer say they can only write at a certain time or in a certain place or in a special kind of journal with a special pen or only on the computer. Unfortunately for us the perfect conditions are elusive. It would be nice to be able to go to an artist's colony in the mountains or a writer's retreat by the sea, but those conditions are short lived. I decided to take stock of my own writing routine to see how portable I am. Not very, I'm afraid. I go to the library at 9:00 in the morning. I sit down at the last table in the back of the nonfiction section. I spread  my paraphernalia all over the table and get to work. I get a lot done and wrap things up after about two hours. But then last Tuesday, horror of horrors. Someone's sitting at my table! Messed up my whole day. Then the magazine came in the mail and I read the article. Like the song says, there'll be some changes made. I'll clean off my desk so I can use it to write on instead of catching clutter. The kitchen table has possibilites. Stellar Beans and Books a Million every now and then. My brother has a nice cabin on the river. How about you? How portable are you?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Listen To What They Say

I just returned from a ten-day cruise to Key West and the Bahamas. Very relaxing. No telephone ringing. No deadlines. Just endless water and balmy nights. No worrying about query letters and the dreaded synopsis. Lots of reading, though. I had a  book on my Kindle that I started reading after we set sail. It was one of those "can't put down" books. NO REST FOR THE DEAD by 26 different writers. Great book, and highly recommended. But I digress. I sat on a window bench reading, saving the table for my sister and cousins, who had gone to the casino to kill time until the next Trivia game started. Two couples sat down at my table and started talking. Like I said, I was reading and minding my own business. One of the women left for the casino and her husband unloaded some interesting things about his wife and her family on the other couple. I tried. I really tried to keep reading and not eavesdrop. The wife came back and they all got up and left, and I hotfooted it back to my room and wrote down everything I could remember him saying. There's no way I'm not going to get a short story out of that conversation. So listen to what they say. You never know when someone will drop it in your lap.