Christy's Babbling at You Again

A few things for you on this Monday. (Minus the recipe. No Mealtime Madness today.)

I wrote my first story beginnings when I was a little girl. As I approached the end of my elementary years and headed off to middle school, I stuck with my stories for a while longer, but never wrote past the middle. I completed my first novel at 116,000 words when I was 33years old. That was one year ago. Since then I've rewritten the beginning beyond a laugable amount of times and the entire thing once, not including the additional edits along the way. I'm also 60 percent done with a second novel with ideas ready to take off for a third.

My point?

I've learned a few things.

And want to celebrate by sharing them with you. Of course, you're probably the ones who taught them to me in the first place. So maybe what I'm saying is THANK YOU!

*The best writers out there 1) read A LOT. 2) write EVEN MORE.

And they don't just write the scenes in their manuscript, but also the writerly thoughts that surge through their brain all day long. TRY IT! While out walking, what do you notice? Do the leaves on the weeds seem to be waving at you? Do solitary leaves do somersaults on the pavement as the breeze breathes life into them? Do trees bow down as your car drives beneath them? Do the crowds of trees that encircle you while treading water appear to be seated on bleachers around the stadium lake? Does a conversation at the table next to yours at the cafe strike you as note-worthy? Does the perfect color word for the sun setting on the horizon pop into your mind? YES? WRITE IT ALL DOWN!

You never know when one of those amazing thoughts might come in handy in a manuscript. Even if they don't. Write them down anyways!

*The best writers out there pay attention to what they read.

What makes the book you are reading memorable? Why do you keep turning the pages? What endears you to the characters? What dialogue makes you giggle? What dialogue makes you go "Awwwwww!" What dialogue makes you weep? WHY? What endings fall flat?

MAKE NOTE OF THESE THINGS. Why? So you can do it, too! (Or not.)

*When you're ready to be a serious writer, you need to take yourself seriously as a writer.

Make time to do it. NO. Set up time to do it. STICK TO IT. My husband continually refers to my writing as a hobby, and I don't know what it is about that term, but it aggravates me. I've given up arguing. No, I'm not making money. Yes, I'm a long way from finding an agent and an even longer way from signing books at the local Barnes and Noble. So, even though I might be the only one who realizes that I'm serious about being a writer, deep down, I have to believe it.

One of the things I'm doing now that I'm beginning to take myself seriously as a writer (I'm not there yet. I have a few doubts and insecurities left to tackle and discard.) is reading my very first WRITING book. So far, I love it. I think it was a great first choice. I got it for like 3 bucks on my kindle. Plot and Structure-Write Great Fiction by James Scott Bell. Bell suggests to take yourself seriously as a writer and to start out 1)buy yourself a mug that says 'Writer' and 2)set a daily word goal (NOT time goal). I'm working on both of his suggestions.

*Taking notes on kindle is an amazing feature that I love.

I've been rereading parts of The Sky is Everywhere to 'highlight' (underline) the imagery, dialogue and other quotable writing I find. I also highlight while I read Bell's book. THE BEST PART IS: the kindle stores the stuff I've highlighted in a separate spot so I can view ONLY the text I've wanted to remember. It separates each quote and makes note of the page numbers. LOVE IT!

*Having multiple readers/crit partners/beta readers is invaluable.

Everyone has different taste. Whether it's clothes or movies or food or jokes. This is no different in the reading/writing world. Your writing may not click with one person while another may want to devour every word you scribble. Why is this? Style. Genre. Word choice. Beliefs. Etc. People get second opinions from doctors. We need them before putting our writing under the knife also. Not only should you not take EVERY piece of advice a critiquer offers, but you should weigh several opinions and think on them before making hasty changes.

Recently I posted my first page here. (Okay, more than just recently. Just scroll down one post!) I DID post revisions. In the past, my posting revisions was a hasty move on my part due to embarrassment and uncertainty. If someone didn't like something I panicked and my cheeks burned and my heart sank. This time, I only felt gratitude. I really thought about the suggestions from commenters and was able to do so objectively. (See how much I've grown! LOL!) I made changes. YES. Many. BUT it was because I knew my words needed something and all the wonderful commenters gave me that something. I only changed what I knew needed to be. Because I wanted to, not just because somebody told me to.

Find yourself mutliple critique partners. I am a firm believer that this is hugely important and will benefit your writing.

Share your favorite lesson you've learned since beginning on your journey as a writer. I'd love to hear it!


  1. I was sooooo naive when I started out, but I sort of miss those days - writing completely from the heart without the giant inner editor looming, being completely in the zone without having distractions of querying and reading and critiquing and blogging and...

    BUT, that being said, I have learned a TON in the past few years. One of my biggest resources for growth as a writer - reading. And The Sky is Everywhere? I could only ever dream of being that brilliant.

    Great post! I could completely identify with so much. :)

  2. Some of these might seem obvious, but they're not always. You've made many great points here.

    I've yet to use the notes function on my Kindle, but I just got it, so I have to finish the book I'm reading first.

  3. You have come a long way, Christy. And yes, daily word counts are important. I wrote over 4,000 this weekend, but that doesn't mean I can take the next week off, right??!! I need to plug along, I mean write a great book! (and remember we can't all be Kiersten White and finish in 9 days, but we can all be authors and write a good book. Or something like that.)

  4. Wow, you can take notes on Kindle and it stores them in a separate place?? I've been on the fence about whether I want an e-reader, but I think you just gave me an excellent reason to get one!

    You chose one of the very best authors of books on writing, in my opinion. Bell is wonderful!

    I love every point you made. One of the most difficult, I think, is to take yourself seriously as a writer, especially when the important people in your life like having you in a different category. It took me years to get comfortable with that one, but finally, I've grown to the point that I actually experience the journey as a self-validating world of its own! This is such an awesome life--you'll always be glad you did it. Don't let a little perception challenge ever stop you.

  5. Great points. (no idea you could do the kindle note thing! crazy!) Taking yourself seriously is the big one I struggle with. Hard to make yourself understand that it's a "job" and not put it off for other things.

  6. My favorite lesson is to write everyday. I have days where writing doesn't happen, but I think about it and feel guilty about it, so those days become fewer and fewer.

    Yay to you taking yourself seriously as a writer!

  7. With so many fabulous lessons I am hard pressed to top them! Seriously girl, what a fantastic post! I especially love the part about taking yourself seriously as a writer. That's what it's all about! The best lesson I've learned is that our success isn't in the hands of agents and editors, it's in ours.

  8. Hi, Christy,

    Very informative "babble." You have leaned so much and I am proud of you that you are sticking with in and calling yourself a writer ... because YOU ARE!

    My all time favorite beginner story features you pal and mine, Erica. Like you, I had an obsession with adverbs... in the immortal words of Erica, "Murder them!"

    This lady doesn't mince words. LOL

  9. I'm learning a lot from you Christy, especially the part about taking yourself as a writer seriously even if you're not making a dime out of it yet.

  10. *sniff* Oh you ARE growing as a writer. That last one in particularly is SO HARD at first, and then later it IS nice. You've learned some great stuff. I also think the more you write, the more you learn about writing. You begin to notice things you didn't before and it makes coming back to old works and improving them easier. I'd written four books before I really GOT the revision thing. It just hadn't clicked.

  11. I agree with your list.

    Two things that plagued me as a writer was 1) show don't tell and 2) voice. It took me a while to figure out how to do those successfully. I'm dense.

  12. You've learned well young padawan! I especially believe in taking yourself seriously as a writer. Once you do that a lot of the other stuff comes along with it.

    And I just got a Kindle but now with what you said I'm all the more jazzed to start reading with it! Yeah!

  13. I agree with ALL of your lessons--especially the part about making notes on what you read. I make sure to pay attention to how authors write areas that I'm weak in--such as describing setting.

  14. Christy this is wonderful! You seem to have come a long way! I LOVE that the kindle saves those highlighted notes for you. I want one just for that!! And I've been trying so hard to write/edit, do SOMETHING every day (which means breaking into my blogging, which is why I've been absent- I miss you guys so much!). But I NEED to take myself seriously and not dawdle because I want it so bad! I Love my husband for never saying its a hobby, and for never yelling at me at the end of the day when the dishes are piled up and the laundry not done. Having that kind of encouragement keeps me going.

  15. Oh I agree! And awesome advice! As writers it's our job to observe. And having the more beta/CPs the better. I just had my most recent story read by 2 diff (and awesome) betas and I tweaked and revised. Then I had a new beta ... a guy this time... read it and his feedback allowed me to give the story what it was missing... that ju ne se qua you can never put your finger on til someone says, "Hey! Try this!"
    So yeah, the more the better! And after every story I write I read a writing how to book. And if I don't make time for writing early morning, it doesn't get done. So I get up early even on my days off, just to write.

  16. :0) LOL. Maybe I should join Kindle's marketing team! erica emailed me that by the end of the year kindle will also have the library lending program (one of the options only nook holds now. christy

  17. I've only just bought this netbook now you're making me want a kindle too. That's a great feature, esp when you love a quote. Great post Christie

  18. Christy - my husband also calls my writng a hobby and I've also given up correcting him. James Scott Bells books are full of AWESOMENESS. The one you are reading is good! My purchase to remind myself I was a writer is a red alabaster heart that sits on my desk. Sounds like you've learned a lot this year!


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