28 June 2013

Top Five Friday: How to Keep the Writerly Home Fires Burning

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer:
Write.
Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.
~ Brian Clark


 
T
wo more days to go!

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d make it all thirty days.  Looking back at my participation in 2011 and 2012, it’s easy to see why: in 2011, I wrote nineteen posts and in 2012, twenty-one.  This will be the first year that I wrote all thirty posts.

I feel good. Channels inner James Brown.

If you’re a sadist, the Ultimate Blog Challenge starts July 1, but I think I need a teeny break from posting. Every. Single. Day.  However, this doesn’t mean that I’ll stop writing every day.

Writing is like any habit: you have to do it continuously for at least a month in order for it to sink deep into your muscle memory.  And the Blogathon (and any blog or writing challenge) helps because it puts your fingers to the fire.  Sure, no one will point at you and laugh and say, “Loser!” if you don’t post every day.  And sometimes life just happens and you don’t cross the finish line or win the gold. Don't sweat it.  But there is something personally satisfying about completing a project, and victory tastes like sweet tea now that I’ve finally done it.

Well, almost.  Two days!!

With the Blogathon drawing to a close, I want to encourage all my new blogger friends and colleagues that participated (no matter how much or how little) to continue the habit.  Write every day.  I don’t care if it’s an essay no one will ever read.  Or a page a day in your journal.  Or even a letter to a loved one.

Just. Write.

And in addition to writing, read.  Never had to read Moby Dick in high school?  Read it now.  Think Shakespeare is a bore?  Pick up a copy of The Merchant of Venice and the companion Cliff or Spark Notes, and read it out loud.  Even better, watch Hamlet with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart to get a modern feel for the Bard.  Then go read the play out loud.  Read Auten and other writers of the Regency, then move on to the Romantics, then the Moderns, and then the Post-Moderns. 

You cannot be a good writer, unless you’ve read great writers.  It’s just that simple.

You should also read books on writing and follow blogs about writing.  As with anything, there are some that are brilliant, and some that are better used as compost for the garden.  Here are my top five recommendations to help keep the writerly home fires burning.

Some of the best creative writing articles out there.  I follow them on my blog and with Bloglovin.  If I’m ever stuck for inspiration, I go here.  They always have writing prompts to get the ink flowing.

I’ve mentioned them before, but it bears repeating: this is a great blog for writerly advice and tips.  And Mary Jaksch also runs A-List Blogging.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Stephen King novel.  Horror has not been my subject of choice in reading material.  But maybe it’s time to check him out. Because his book on writing, my friends, is pure gold.  He tells it like it is, and gives solid advice.  This one is already on its way to becoming a classic.

Buy it. Read it.  Underline in it.  Write in it.

This book is a classic.  Which means the advice never gets old, never goes out of style, and can be applied to your writing today ~ even if you don’t write a line of poetry and are only young at heart.  Rilke is simply…the best.

Talent and being well-read are not the only factors in producing good writing.  You have to know your grammar, spell words correctly, and have a kick ass vocabulary too.  If you don’t know the meaning of a word, for Merriam-Webster’s sake, look it up!  There’s no excuse, there are countless dictionaries online now.

There is also Daily Writing Tips which has articles and links on misused words, spelling, grammar 101, and even a word of the day.  Don’t make me write a review of your book that rants about the misuse of your/you’re, their/there/they’re, and (my personal favorite) isle/aisle.

Two more days!  Happy writing!!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Come Monday, the party’s over.  What are your writing (or other artistic) goals for July? How will you keep up the good habits you’ve begun? And what writer blogs or books do you recommend?

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