Daily Archives: February 24, 2012

Book Club – A Writer’s Book of Days {Part 1}

Welcome back to BP Reads! I’m so excited to learn what everyone is dreaming about when it comes to your writing and I’m really looking forward to playing around in the different areas with you all and see what we come up with.

And I realize I didn’t share my dreams with you. So here they are:

* Most immediately, I’m in the editing phase of a novel that I think is really close to being publishable. (It’s the second novel I’ve written – the first was…well, let’s just say that was a learning experience!) It’s being reviewed by eyes other than mine and so far the feedback has been both encouraging and constructive. So my big goal is to get this baby out into the world. I’ll shop it out to literary agents, but even if I don’t get a bite there, I’m going to self-publish it (because 1) I really believe in this one, and 2) I really like the idea of self-publishing and having that much control over the final work, from start to finish).

* On the loftier (egotistical?) side, I want to become the kind of writer who writes passages that other people underline. So I’m working on my observation skills and my ability to turn a phrase. I sense this will be a lifelong endeavor.

Were you all able to get a copy of Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book of Days? Have you had a chance to peek inside at all?

This week, I’d like to suggest we read Guideline 1 (“Keep Writing”) and Guideline 2 (“Trust Your Pen”). I don’t actually know how many pages that is to read since I have the Kindle version, but I don’t think it’s too long. But if it is, just read what you have time for or feel free to skim. You’re not going to be tested. Make this what you need it to be. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten the book just yet, you can still play along with the exercises I’ve got for us.

Guideline 1 is about cultivating a writing practice. Do you write regularly? Do you need to re-engage with the practice of writing?

If that is where you are, I would like to encourage you to spend this week identifying what you need to have a safe space for writing. Do you need to create desk space for yourself, a sanctuary of sorts? Do you need to commit to a 15-minute/1/2-hour/full hour writing time? Do you turn to the computer, or do you retreat to pen and paper?

What do you need to engage in the practice of writing? If you haven’t already created it, create it now and share it with us here in the comments!

Guideline 2 is about delving deeper into the writing process: how to let go, how to trust the images that come to mind.

If you’ve gotten a copy of the book, I’d like to encourage you to do at least two timed writings from the prompts this week. You can go in the order of the prompts given, or choose ones that call to you. (If you don’t have the book, you can still follow along by doing your own self-directed writing.) I know we’re all busy, so I leave it to you to decide what rules you’ll set up for yourself. The timed writing could be 5 minutes, could be 30 minutes, or could go until your pen runs out of ink. (I personally shoot for 20-minute sessions, daily.)

Several of you mentioned wanting to learn how to extend scenes, how to delve more deeply into description, and how to show without telling. This exercise is for you.

When you have completed your two timed writings, go back and highlight in different colors any time you used a sensory description. For example, any time you used the sense of sight, highlight it in blue; taste, red; touch, green; etc.). Notice: what colors do you see most? Which senses do you rely on most heavily? Which ones could you try to use more? Is your page a little lacking in color? Share what you discover here with us in the comments!

Timed writings are not the space to bring in the critics and the censors, so try not to worry about these things too much as you write, or you won’t write at all. But taking a look at this after you write, can be revealing and will bring some self-awareness in your future writing.