Ten in Ten: Back To Work

Even though I’m regularly asked to speak on my perspectives on writing and literature, I never really feel qualified to do so. As is evidenced by ten blogs in a row about my writing process, it’s a tenuous and delicate and scary thing, so how could I ever master it? Luckily, I doubt I really need to. I just need to keep getting back to work, back to myself.

Rather than depressing me, a workmanlike (workwomanlike?) attitude toward writing keeps me going. It reminds me that I can improve with practice, that I need to plug away. Treating writing like

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Ten in Ten: Protecting Your Work

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You know the big, huge, terrifying amount of time, energy and love you pour into your writing? You know the dreams you wrap up in every word? It will all be for naught if you don’t show up to protect it.

I don’t mean go out and buy a gun, or go out and get all obsessed with the remote possibility of someone stealing your precious ideas, unless that’s your thing. I mean that letting your desire for publication trump your common sense and your sense of self-protection is somewhat ludicrous. So is allowing people to divert you from your

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Ten in Ten: The Book Only You Can Write

Look, the publishing industry is changing fast. Things are buzzy and kind of terrifying. There’s always something to compare yourself to—a stellar success that is just enough like you to make you really jealous, or a flameout that is just close enough to home to make you wince.

It might sound cliche, but the only way I know to combat this weirdness is to look for the book only I can write.

When I got close to my first book deal (spoiler alert: it didn’t happen), I really didn’t get this. I didn’t get that an editorial committee, or an

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Ten in Ten: Layered Revision

There are two types of revisers: the reluctant and the thrilled. Maybe it’s the former-school-newspaper-copyeditor in me, or the short drafter in me, but I love revision. At last! Drafting is done (ha) and I can make the damn thing a bit better, or at least I hope.

But revision isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. It’s a layered process, one with lots of nuance and fluidity. The layers I can think of are:

Flow
Story
Voice
Time
Tense
Facts
Focus
Pace
Look
Ease of Reading
Grammar/Spelling
Fun

I’m sure there are hundreds of other layers, if you look

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Ten In Ten: Drafting

So, you’ve given yourself permission. You’ve made the space. Now it’s time to draft.

I will be frank: this is my least favorite part of writing. I feel like that makes me a freak (do you sense a theme here?) since writers are, you know, supposed to enjoy writing? And I do enjoy writing, but much more the fixing part than the vomiting out raw material part. Because that’s what drafting is for me.

I will be frank once more: though the thought of an outline gives me the chills, I really work better with one. Usually I try to

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