Friday, March 31, 2006

On Writing...

This quote was sent in by my writer-friend Glenda Schoonmaker

"We all ended up just the tiniest bit resentful when we found the one fly in the ointment: that at some point we had to actually sit down and write."

--Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Tricia's Thoughts:
Today I was asked by a fellow writer how I write. Since we all have to actually put words on paper, I try to make it as painless as possible.

When I sit down to write, I don't let doubts get in the way. For non-fiction, I start by just opening up a blank page and typing in everything I know about the subject. I then type everything I still want to know. Next, I figure out if I need to interview an expert or look up something for research. The form of the piece builds from there as I add quotes, fill in holes, break the piece into sub-headings and add a dynamite ending. It's like putting together a puzzle. I never worry about the complete piece when I first start writing, instead I just connect pieces until the whole forms!

Thursday, March 30, 2006


We’re all so hungry, so hungry for each other and for lots of things, but it does seem to me that the basic hunger really is for the Word of God. And a lot of people don’t know that. So the job is to try to make it understandable, make it real.

~Frederick Buechner, Of Faith and Fiction by W. Dale Brown, p. 54

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Something True

What’s a good day or night of writing for you? Perhaps it’s when you’ve used your little silver key and opened the book of secrets and lost yourself as you shaped them into a story, an essay, or a poem. Lost yourself and found yourself. Perhaps it’s later when, back in the tangible world around you, you are quietly full and satisfied because you know you have written something true.

Sobbing is allowed.
~Meg Files, Write from Life, p. 25

Monday, March 27, 2006

Wordsmithing . . . or not

Early in my writing career a friend kept calling me a wordsmith. “How’s the wordsmith business going?” he’d ask, or “Was that a tough article to wordsmith?” Aside from the ugliness of the term, something about this label bothered me. A wordsmith sounds like someone who works with words just as a tinsmith works with pieces of metal. Words, my friend implied, were the basic unit of my trade. He seemed to think I mainly concerned myself with selecting words and cobbling them into articles and books. To a non-writer, the process of writing may look like an exercise in words. But our task is really much more challenging and satisfying. Composers manipulate themes and harmonies, not notes; doctors treat patients, not organs; and photographers explore light and color, not pixels. In the same way, nearly every successful writer realizes that ideas—not words, sentences, or paragraphs—are the currency of our work. Ideas are the raw materials for our industry. Anyone can learn to use a word correctly. Only skilled writers can identify promising story ideas and develop them into irresistible articles and books.

--Jack El-Hai, The Mystery of Ideas, The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing, p.35-36

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Have a Destination in Mind

The longest journey begins with the first step, but it helps to know where your journey will take you. This doesn’t mean you will know every step of the way, because writing is always full of surprises – twists and turns that the author doesn’t expect. That’s the fun part of writing. But most writers I know have a destination in mind. They know where they want to head even if they can’t tell you exactly how they intended to get there . . . Even when you get to the end of the work, this compass will guide you through the rewriting, that stage of work that really makes what you’ve written. By having a clear understanding of what your plot is and how the force works in your fiction, you’ll have a reliable compass to guide you through the work.

What explorer ever struck out without a direction in mind?

Ronald B. Tobias, 20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them), p. 7