Weak words are a story’s nemesis. They are easy to use, serve multiple purposes, and act as quick fillers–but they drag your story down and dim your writing. They crop up like kittens unless we are paying strict attention to each sentence we compose. With care and time, you can ferret them out—my advice is to wait until you’re at the copyediting stage, when there is no chance of you rewriting and accidentally adding in more of these insidious words. When you edit, replace those offenders with strong verbs or simply tighten the sentence.
“TO BE” VERBS …
Some writers are overwhelmed by the need to tell a story, caring only about letting the story loose onto the page, wildly spilling forth the characters, setting, and problems, like an adventurer without a map. Other writers are methodical, controlled, and deliberate; their need to tell a story may still be great, but their approach is more like that of a hunter tracking prey.
It may either encourage or frustrate you to be told that there is no one single or right approach to writing. As with everything else, what works for one writer may not work for another. This is all because of your natural writing forces. Finding your writing pace and discovering which processes work best for you is necessarily a product of practice and search pursued by writing every day (Time Warrior’s), or on a regular basis.
Let’s explore the two different extremes of writing process…
One of the many grumblings I hear among people on social media is that they struggle with self-management = accountability. This includes sticking to goals, organization, time, attention/distraction. As lone wolves, writers are forced to rely on themselves to get the work done, however they planned it. Or didn’t plan it. Many writers set a goal and chug through till it’s accomplished. Set a new goal, chug through that till it’s accomplished. So on and so forth. Some writers do well with this, and they don’t need outside support.
Many writers who spend more time in a writing cave than out and about in the bustling world tend to have less of a handle on productivity and self-management. Speaking for myself, if I could spend all day in my nether worlds with my characters I would, dinner and kid pick-up after school be damned.
But I have real-world obligations that actually force me to step out of my cave and act like a normal person…
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My inner critic first visited me when I was in junior high school, and she has never left. I christened her ‘Eris’ after I took a mythology course. I thought it was appropriate.
If Eris were a character in a novel, I would describe her as a dangerously beautiful pirate, no doubt. Long black hair. Pale complexion. Swift with a sword. Stealthy, unfair, judgmental, and cruel. But she loves birds. Maybe she would have a pet raven or hawk. She spends her time sailing through my writer self at her whim. She has full reign there. No story is safe. She squashes them all with the toe of her crocodile skin boot.
But why the hatred of my stories? What is so terrible about my writer self that she feels necessary to stomp upon and light afire?
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When someone comes up to me and tells me they’ve been struggling with setting up daily writing habits, committing to a writing practice, or even time management (fitting writing into a busy lifestyle), one of the first questions I will ask:
Have you identified yourself as a writer?
Identity is one of the key foundational elements to a writing journey. There is very little success or forward progress for anyone who doesn’t believe that they are a writer. And yet, it’s one of the most common areas that writers forget to nurture.
About eight years ago, my husband, two children, and I were in a taxi. The cabbie asked my husband what he did for a living. They shared a small exchange before the cabbie looked at me in the rear-view mirror and asked me what I do for a living.
I said, “I take care of these two sugar cubes,” referring to my two children sitting on either side of me.
My son Riley looked up at me and said, “And you’re a writer.”
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