Friday, October 16, 2009

Sweating the Small Stuff!

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves
– Dale Carnegie


I love this quote by Carnegie. It's another one of the quotes I often use in my classroom. I think I'm a quote-aholic :)

This quote definitely applies to my writing. I have learned so much in the last year and a half - and it's all been about the small stuff.

I've learned to limit my writing to what the reader needs to know - not to include everything I see in my head. I've learned to eliminate so many unnecessary words - that, just, seems, felt, suddenly, ...

I even think I've conquered my dialogue tag addiction!

So yes, working on the small stuff has made me a better writer!

How about you? What "small stuff" have you conquered that's made you a better writer?

16 comments:

  1. Patience and persistence go hand in hand; without them I'd be lost. They are the two that make me a better writer. Although, it's a constant work in progress of it's own! :-D

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  2. Writing sure does require a lot of patience, doesn't it! Thankfully it's a lot of fun as well :)

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  3. What I've learned is to get out of the way and let the story go (at least on the first draft). Never try to hone a newborn story. Just let it flow and have fun. There's always time to be the grown-up editor on the second draft, revision, and nit-picky editing portions.

    Thanks for the post.

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  4. I like that! I love when a first draft takes over me and my life. It's so much fun to just ride the wave. Even if the laundry refuses to get itself done :) Thanks for dropping by!

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  5. To write, even when I don't feel like writing. My muse and I are speaking to each other, but I'm still trying to do a little every day. :)

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  6. To cut. I am no longer afraid to slice my manuscript apart and sew it back together. As a beginning writer, the tendency during rewrites is to change the insignificant words: cutting out a that, changing a simple dialogue tag, deleting adverbs, minor tinkering that doesn't always get to the heart of the problem.

    As an experienced writer, I have learned it's okay to get rid of big stuff to help the over all flow and clarity of my writing. We get so attached to our words and feel as if we are mutiliting ourselves when we cut them from our pieces. However, they are just words.

    Okay, maybe that's something big, but it's one of the most important lessons I've learned.

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  7. Elizabeth - so true! Pushing through those tough days is something I've learned makes a huge difference!

    Cat - it takes so much courage to make those cuts! This first time I made big changes I actually broke out into a sweat. I've kept all the versions of the ms, but it's still hard sometimes. I am getting better :)

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  8. I've learned a lot about pacing, about how to make my characters more realistic. About easing up on redundant exposition. Definitely small things that I've been able to work on one at a time that has made me a better writer.

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  9. Cindy - those are all great things to learn! I'm the same - finding a small way to improve seems less overwhelming to a new writer, but it makes a huge difference!

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  10. As I wrote in my last post, Twitter has helped me be more economical with my words. As you take words away, the meaning often becomes clearer. The "small stuff" is simply writing. Every time we write a sentence, we become better writers. ;-)

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  11. I have learned to re-write, until the words flow so smoothly there's no hesitation or question as to whether they are strung along exactly as they should be.

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  12. Debra - very true! I love how being more concise and economical with words makes the writing stronger :)

    Elizabeth - very nice! What a lovely description of what we do!

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  13. I'm still learning to accept that as much as I admire certain authors, I don't write like them. I'm becoming more satisfied with my own voice and not judging it harshly simply because its mine.

    Elspeth

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  14. Elspeth - it's very difficult to hear our own voice. It's easier for me when I'm writing dialogue because each character has his/her own voice. Like you I'm becoming more confident with my own.

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  15. Great question, Jemi. I've learned to trust my reader. Things don't have to be spelled out to the letter or repeated again and again. Readers *get* it. This was a huge epiphany.

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  16. VR - That's a good one! You're so right - readers are active participants and they understand so much more than we sometimes give them credit for :)

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