a bit of writerly advice… for March 2, 2018


Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.

Zadie Smith

This advice from English novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith, seemed apropos today, as I woke up to a house without power. Yes, March is definitely coming in like a lion, roaring with wind. As I write, it’s still gusting up to 60 miles per hour on the other side of the windows of my home office–but the electricity is back.

Still, for me, it pays to unplug while writing and rewriting and rewriting. Plugged in, it’s too easy to check my email or blog stats (yes, I admit I’m a blog stat checker), or check in with the cats in my FB feed. And every time a high school age writer in one of the (online) writing groups I belong to asks how other writers keep from being distracted, I say “unplug, unplug”…while plugged into FB. Hmm. Clearly, I need to do better.

Best to separate the writing process from the business of writing. The latter takes lots of being plugged in; the former takes very little (except for, say, a quick web search for the price of a movie ticket in 1939 for my historical novel manuscript).

What do you think? Do you write while unplugged or plugged in? Can you resist the pull of social media long enough to get into the state of flow required to write?

Other writing advice from Zadie Smith

¬†What’s your best writing advice?


The imagination in revision



To revise.

If there are two words that stir dread in this writer, it’s these. I know, I know, I’m supposed to love to revise. (And I do, in the same way I “love” other things that are good for me, like yogurt and kale.) To revise is to make new–and hopefully better. Back to the drawing board. A new lease, blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the thing: revision requires imagination (Daily Prompt).

Revision demands that we unplug from everything but our WIP and allow the mind–and the plot and character and theme, etc.–to change. A WIP off course! Yes, this can–and even should–happen when we revise. Call it giving over control to the muse or your writer’s instinct or your better judgement, but it does require a loss of control.

Oh, we’ll be in control of our WIPs again. We just have to wait for the editing phase. Can’t rush these phases, though (so says my chapter three I’m currently re-seeing). The late, great Donald M. Murray tells us so, too:

We confuse revision, which is re-seeing, re-thinking, re-saying with editing which is making sure the facts are accurate, the words are spelled correctly, the rules of grammar and punctuation are followed.

–from Donald M. Murray‘s classic, The Craft of Revision

A tribute to Murray from a former writing student

*Photo taken from my village’s community pier. (Credit: Bill Moon. Thanks, Dad!) This foggy scene seemed right for this post, since working through a revision often feels like charting a course through thick fog!

Are you revising at the moment? Does it require a leap of the imagination for you? Weigh in here.