Top 3 tips for editing your own writing

Many writers hate editing. Not me. The heavy lifting is done. You’ve unearthed that thing that lay buried inside your dreams, ideas and visions, and now it’s in a workable form. Editing is little more than brushing away the excess, cleaning, patching, and polishing. So why do so many of us get stuck?

Here are my top three tips for editing your writing — practices that have helped me in my career as a writer. Continue reading

My ‘why I can’t write’ excuses — and what I did about them

I’ve made a good living as a freelance non-fiction writer, but my heart has always thumped hardest when I contemplate a fiction writer’s life. However, I didn’t write fiction for years because of the following:

Five reasons I used as excuses

  1. My day job was writing. I didn’t want to “relax” in the evening by writing some more.
  2. I needed to brush up on skills. I hadn’t taken writing classes since college.
  3. None of my friends were fiction writers, so I couldn’t get honest, reliable feedback on my work.
  4. I didn’t have the time.
  5. I wasn’t very good.

So…which one of these is your excuse?

Pick it now, and have a good rationale handy as to why it’s stopping you, because I’m going to eviscerate each and every one of them…or at least tell you how I changed my life so I couldn’t make those excuses anymore. Continue reading

Lessons from behind the mic

In my other life, I ask questions. And I find people to answer those questions.

Part of my job involves interviewing people. After doing this for over 15 years, I realize:

  • Enthusiasm can trump education when it comes to describing what you know.
  • You can tell how well (or poorly) the interview will go in the first 15 seconds.
  • If the interviewee is reluctant to talk, don’t push to make it happen. It won’t be good.

What I learned about talking to people can be applied to a writing practice. Let’s take it step by step. Continue reading

Ripe fruit


Sit me in front of a blank page or screen, no limitations and no deadline, and I’m rarely stuck.

No, I’ve got endless ideas, opening sentences, a narrative thread worked out, maybe even some mannerisms that reveal character and intent. My fingers grip the pencil or jitterbug across the keyboard, and they are confident and purpose-driven … for about two hours.

I get to a certain point, and then something in me flags. I slow down, stop, start doubting, and then I go back and revise.

Bad. Very bad habit. Continue reading

Writing: both soul food and a beach


Spring break in an oceanfront cottage. Sounds idyllic, right? Once there, though, I stopped writing. That’s not an excuse. Just an explanation for the weeklong gap in posts.

The road to the beach was paved with good intentions. Here’s mine:

  • Read seven novels
  • Type on my laptop
  • Compose a story the old-fashioned way — by hand in a composition notebook.

I fell short. Very short. Here’s why: Continue reading

Birdsong

We’re surrounded by technology. Since you’re reading this online, you at least have a computer or tablet. If you’re like me, the cell phone is also nearby, sending out sounds to let you know who called, texted, or emailed.

Distraction is a problem when we feed on multiple streams of information. It’s like going through a cafeteria line. You’ve already got your entree, but those sides look good. And what about dessert? You pick up a coffee cup, but you’re thirsty so you grab a glass as well. By the time you reach the cashier, you’re stunned by how much is on your tray. 

Really, you’re not going to consume all that, are you? Continue reading