Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Practice makes perfect....
I don't know how many times I heard that phrase growing up. Practice makes perfect. Half-an-hour of music each day, practice your cursive writing, arithmetic tables, reading skills, table manners, ice skating...it's what we're told to do in order to get ahead.
Some of it paid off. And for that, I thank my parents. Although I still grumble that I didn't get to take ballet at an earlier age. Or piano. Or join the basketball team. Grumble, grumble.
These days, the same tenet still holds. Practice makes perfect (a state still being sought and slightly out of reach in most, okay, all instances.) But I try to get a half hour of practicing my choir music in every day; I practice tidying the house as I go along rather than leaving it all to one day; ditto for doing the filing.
It's also important with writing. For some reason, book number two in my mystery book club series, is harder to write. I just am having a more difficult time getting into it...or my character's head. I'm not really sure what that's all about. But I do know that if I practice writing each day -- at least 15 minutes -- it helps.
I know the end product will be more disjointed than I'd like. But that's what second drafts are for. I enjoy the process of reading through and adding the details, fleshing out the southern Alabama town and the lives of the book club members. Of being 30-something Lizzie Turner and seeing the world through her eyes. There is hope. I know I'll get back into the groove. She's waiting there for me in that second draft.
I'd heard about the 15-minute rule before but it had to be a thousand words or nothing for me. And that demand one makes on oneself can be debilitating. My advice to self is, back off, visit with Lizzie and friends for at least 15 minutes a day (it can be done even with a busy schedule), make time for friends.
Practice can lead to a day like Tuesday when I glanced at the clock mid-afternoon, not quite sure what day it was, and noticed my 15 minutes had morphed into 10 pages.
What advice do you give yourself when writing?
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
MURDER BY THE BOOK, first in the mystery book club series
Berkley Prime Crime (April, 2012)