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Writing Exercises

A few months ago, I finished reading Ryan Graudin's Invictus. As I set the book down on my night-table, and considered another recent read (Maggie Steifvater's All The Crooked Saints) I had the distinct thought: YOU MUST LEARN TO WRITE BETTER.

I have been writing purposefully for eleven years now. My writing has been interspersed with the birth of six children, two moves across the country, and working to help my husband earn his PhD. I have written six novels during this time, and I consider that an accomplishment, but the fact of the matter is that I can do better. I can be a better writer. And if I want to move forward, I need to be a better writer.

So, how to be a better writer?

A friend of mine suggested listening to Writing Excuses, a podcast you can find here. I enjoy these fifteen minute podcasts while folding laundry, mowing the lawn, and otherwise ignoring my children. It's always helpful to listen writers discuss their many methods and mistakes when it comes to telling a good story. I love hearing several points of view on the topic and being reminded of simple truths I've already learned along my journey in writing.

I've also tried to increase my own introspective journaling by participating in @anndeecandy 's memoir prompts found here. Sometimes I even morph these into fiction prompts. The idea of giving yourself a set time, and writing things not associated with your current manuscript, has been good for me.

I also enjoy Patricia Wrede's blog and her discussions on different facets of writing. Ms. Wrede has a no-nonsense style in her presentation and is honest in her assessment of what works and what doesn't, and how the writer needs to stay both true to themselves and learn to properly play the game of writing.

All of these have been great sources for improving my craft and trying to become a better writer.

In one of Ms. Wrede's recent posts she mentioned the book: Steering the Craft by Ursula LeGuin This wasn't a book I'd heard of, so I looked into it. It seemed to be a source of writing prompts geared toward the writer who has studied writing but wants to be better. This seemed to be a good fit for me. I decided to order the book and get going. In her introduction, Ursula LeGuin says:

"To make something well is to give yourself to it, to seek wholeness, to follow spirit. To learn to make something well can take your whole life. It's worth it."

I love this idea of learning to make something well. And of being dedicated, even if it takes a person's whole life. I don't seem to be a rushing comet when it comes to finding success in writing. I will instead be a plodding turtle that tries again and again.

As I spend the next little while working through Ms. LeGuin's prompts, I plan to share some of my struggles here... to keep myself honest in my work, and to keep myself going. Here's to becoming a better writer!


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