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. Now that I'm starting book #4 in the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries, I'll start out with that rule as a very minimum for each work day. Because, in spite of all my good intentions, I never did write the book last fall. I kept waiting to see if it was wanted and then, I'd find other things that needed doing. All very legit at the time. So, now it's time once again to get back to the series. And I 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 first 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.
What advice do you give yourself when writing?
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
READ AND BURIED
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
A KILLER READ, also available at your favourite bookstores and online.
COVER STORY available for pre-order; coming Aug. 2013.