Writing, week #1, learned…

January 8, 2011 § 17 Comments

A four-day corporate work week can wreck a person’s blog-a-day stamina.
Still, there are writing lessons out of the whole 4-day mess:

In Tech Writing World:
1) Non-writers can be far more concerned with a document’s appearance than its content.
2)  IT specialists have a weird faith in software apps they’ve never used themselves, and they have far more in common with Jimmy Fallon’s SNL character, the IT Guy (move!), than they realize. 
3)  Offices have doors for a reason; close them when writing!
4)  Resources, like the AP Manual, The Copywriters Handbook, and often the Web, are great, important, necessary, and like silent little friends when you hit a wall on something you shouldn’t bother to carry around in your head anyway – period after the word Inc? hyphenate the word reorganization? etc.
5) Have a writing compadre, always, somewhere on the premises, or at least a phone call away. Always.

Real Life Writing:
1)  Don’t let a day go by without writing something for yourself or your editor. (No, this is not about tech writing.)
2) Go to lunch or coffee with that writing friend. If he/she doesn’t live nearby, ask them to move closer. (Yeah, writers can be a little unrealistic in their requests sometimes. It’s an offshoot of writing creatively.)
3) Realize that you may/will start off writing several (times bajillion) pages of crap but the “good” stuff will come. What’s the “good stuff?” You will know when you hit it. It’s like knowing when you’re really in love but can’t necessarily explain to someone how you know when it’s for sure.
4) Focus, focus, focus on getting your writing (done) in one place. Beware of using too many different notebooks for too many different things.
5) Carry your journal with you everywhere. Really. It’s a catch-net, a safety net, a friend, a go-to and a place where you can write anything from lists and ideas for queries/articles to a line that jumps into your head that starts or finishes a creative piece you’re doing OR the phone number of someone who just might be a connection.

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§ 17 Responses to Writing, week #1, learned…

  • anno says:

    lots of good lessons here… not too shabby for just the first week of the new year. I think item #2 was my favorite from both lists, but I could really take a tip from you on RLW #4: in my desire to always have something to write on, I have way too many notebook… but never in the right place at the right time. Applies to pens, too. Sigh. Sounds like you are off to an excellent start!

    • oh says:

      Dear A – the notebook problem! (universal?) I tried cleaning up and organizing my office today (again). It went well but concurrently, my bedroom dresser became a junk box. Cleaned that off and lo and behold, the craft table in the basement became chaotic. Ah, well. I have at least chosen my notebook to kick off 2011 and will take it from there – one step at a time!

  • shoreacres says:

    I LOVE #3 – Offices have doors for a reason. Close them when writing.

    Though I have no office in the real world, this little rule seems perfectly applicable in another realm. My mind sometimes seems like a little office with a hundred doors, each opening into another room. When I’m working on a piece, I’m very easily distracted – by other ideas, the resonance of a word, another draft I suddenly remember.

    I need to learn to close those mental doors now and then, and focus on (oh, how can I NOT do this?) the task at hand.

    “Focus” is an easy word to hear and ignore. But the image of closing a hundred mental doors? That’s something I can visualize. I suspect it’ll be helpful!

  • Heather says:

    Totally LOL at #2 under Technical Writing. Hit the nail on the head there (still chuckling). #1 is also very true!

    And as for Real Life writing #2, Denver & Colorado is really a lovely place to live (there’s no water but some nice streams and sometimes a small reservoir here and there). You know we have an awesome independent book store (we could be sitting there right now, sipping latte’s and writing away) and, of course, Archiver’s. What else do you need? Don’t forget the Pie Shoppe!

  • oh says:

    Dear Shore – Closing the door seems like a good idea when it’s time to focus (and I should practice now, closing that d@#$ office door, really!) and then we spend the rest of the time “opening doors” so we can let ideas, images, etc. flow in, pop up, appear. Such is the writer’s life and conundrum. When to focus, when to open up.
    Ain’t it grand?
    So glad to have you in writing dialogue… always thoughtful, always giving rise to thought…

    Dear H – I KNEW you’d get it, (on #2!) I just knew it. More to tell you later. OK, on who has to move? I will admit you have a lot going on there that is “writer appealing” so…food for thought…In the meantime, yahoo chat!

    • shoreacres says:

      Re: the door dynamic… I just saw this wonderful quotation from Robert Frost today:

      “I would like to know what I was fencing in and what I was fencing out.”

      • oh says:

        Did this just pop up on your literary radar? this is perfect. That good ole Frost – such clarity of vision and “wordage.” Goes perfectly, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing.

  • litlove says:

    I need to put in a bid for Cambridge, UK as a very nice place to be, very historic, very pretty, but very intimate too. Well after all, if we don’t have to be constrained by reason…. 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    Good tips! (And yes, IT guys really are like the Jimmy Fallon character!)

  • mandy says:

    I love the writing tips. I need to get back to my writing in these up coming weeks. Before the holiday it start to feel like a chore, then I took most of the month of December off and now I’m struggling to find words with meaning again.

  • oh says:

    Mandy! It’s difficult to write through the holidays even as a million beautiful images stream through your mind. But it’s all always there, the urge to write, right? Whether a little bit or a lot at the time, the writing will come. Hope you have a handy dandy notebook that you can begin to fill.
    Keep us current on how you’re doing! and hello to your family! Happy New Year!

  • jeanie says:

    All wonderful words of wisdom — well worth passing along. Alas, I’m not sure how well I do on most of them. But I can bang out the press releases with the best of them. Talk about unfulfilling…

    I do cherish the times I spend with a local friend/author/blogger/writing buddy who has the chops and the publishing credits to fill me with awe. I confess, after those meetings, I settle in a bit more.

    All of this reminds me I have to create my poetry book for Rick in less than a month. Power poetry writing. I’ll get it done. (But I never said it was good!)

  • Kathleen says:

    Excellent tips! Thank you for sharing.

    • oh says:

      Jeanie – the poetry book! Is it time already? I so admire you for meeting a real deadline, I mean, a good and meaningful one.
      (I’m still admiring the ornament you sent!)

      Kathleen – Yay, glad you enjoyed!

  • Bella Rum says:

    #4 “when you hit a wall on something you shouldn’t bother to carry around in your head anyway”

    I love that. I’m going to remind myself of that every day. It lets me off the hook. My capacity for remembering things is diminishing as I write this. It’s terrible. I’m always looking up things that I once knew as well as my own name. Hate it.

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