Imagine This

Imagination is more important than knowledge.  ALBERT EINSTEIN

Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. It is seeing something that is not yet here. It is seeing a different future. It is seeing a combination of existing products that has not yet been tried.  SIR KEN ROBINSON

Yesterday, I made puppy soup. (No live puppies were used or harmed in the making of said puppy soup although one Cocker Spaniel was asked to participate in the taste testing.) Today, using my super powers, I flew with two robins and collected twigs for our nest.

Playing with my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter has reminded me of the importance of imagination. Through play children not only learn about themselves, their talents, as well as test their skills and abilities, but also discover what they need to know about the world around them. For bigger kids imagination is equally important. Imagination is the root of all creativity, problem solving, scientific discoveries and every invention ever developed.

The part of the brain responsible for imagination is located in the frontal lobes which is also responsible for facilitating reflection, empathy, play and creativity. There are two basic types of imagination: Imitative imagination and creative imagination.

Imitative imagination is the mind’s reconstruction of the past where we use our memory to picture something we have experienced and recreate it. Making puppy soup was my granddaughter’s way of recreating the experience of watching me chop vegetables, add them to a broth, stir the concoction and serve out bowls of homemade soup.

Creative imagination is the restructuring of past sensory impressions. Mental imagery of past images or experiences constructs sensations or conditions never before experienced. Without ever having been on a Caribbean cruise, we are still able to close our eyes and imagine a ship, cabins and turquoise water.

Like most children, growing up I had a healthy imagination—some called it overactive. To a daydreamer kind of kid like me, becoming a writer was a logical career choice. Writers know about imagination.

When my children were young, I watched their toy boxes fill up with dolls that crawled and robots that moved, then watched as these expensive, hard plastic, battery-operated, one trick ponies made their way to the bottom of the boxes, destined never to become the favourite toy. What were the favourite toys? There was Teddy (a stuffed Teddy Bear), Bunny (a stuffed bunny rabbit) and a doll named Irma. What each favourite toy had in common was it did absolutely nothing. Its appeal, and indeed staying power lay, in the invitation to imagine and create.

People lacking an imagination (I’m sure you know a few) are at best, dull and at worst, scary. I wonder whether the absence of imagination and abundance of people who grew up with automated toys that limited how children played might explain what is wrong with the world today.

What have you daydreamed about today? Did you seeing something that is not yet here? Did you let your imagination out to play?

Here’s a video from the Grande Dame of Imagination, J.K. Rowlings, as she delivers a commencement speech to the Harvard class of 2008.



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Is writing, writing?

Several months ago, I wrote about the value of surrounding yourself (and your writing) with good and trusted tribe members. Now, I would like to introduce some of my tribe to you. I have asked a few of my writer friends to help me with guest blogs as I take some time to refocus my energy on my family. Today’s post is from a very dear friend, Heidi Croot, who is transitioning between corporate writing to non-fiction and fiction writing. I know if the shoe was on the other foot and I had to transition from fiction to corporate writing, I would feel some of what she has expressed below.

Many of you have asked me what gives? Where are the new posts? How’s the book coming along? Did you ever send in your 75 pages for your final project? The short answer is I have not been able to find much time to write in the last month. Unfortunately, one of our children is unwell and my husband and I are caring for our young granddaughter. It is indeed a challenging time, but I thank everyone who is checking in with us regularly and holding us in their thoughts and prayers. I am indeed blessed to have such a large and supportive tribe and know we will get through this difficult time.


Is writing, writing?

By: Heidi Croot

So, here’s the dilemma. And it’s a gnawer.

I’m a corporate writer, a business writer. Have been for more than 30 years. It means I write annual reports, employee newsletters, articles for trade press, even corporate communications plans.

Fine and good.

However, what I want to do, desperately, is break into personal writing: memoir, fiction, poetry.

Isn’t writing, writing?  If I can do it in one genre, shouldn’t I be able to transition easily to another?

Apparently not.

I am paralyzed. Have no idea how to get started on, say, a short story. What would I write about? What on earth would I write about? Does plot piece together like ideas in a non-fiction piece? Who is my character? And what the hell does she want? How do I select point-of-view, describe people’s faces, evoke a setting, create suspense?

I don’t fumble like this with magazine articles. I know exactly what to do. How to begin. How to organize my material (indeed, where to get my material). How to bridge paragraphs. What tone to take. When to use stories or case studies.

I turn to mind-mapping, an indispensable tool of my trade, but it lets me down. I don’t even know what to put in the centre cloud. So I put a question mark. That really helps.

There must be a bridge from genre to genre. Got to find it. Meanwhile, I tear around, choking on my own dust, mild hysteria mounting as I face the prospect of being stuck on this island forever.

Plunge in, just start, practice, practice, practice: I hear you, all you capable fiction writers out there.

I know my voice is in here, somewhere deep, buried under the detritus of dry corporate babblespeak. Going to get me a tractor and clear all that rubble aside. Let the music out. Soon, I’ll do it soon. First I’ve got to finish that business report.

Heidi Croot is an award-winning business writer who has been connecting the five essential dots of communication for employees, customers and the community for more than 30 years. As principal of Croot Communications, she writes magazine articles, newsletters, brochures, annual reports, speeches, strategic plans, and more.


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Make Good Art

This past week marked the one year anniversary of my leaving my day job and I am now taking stock of what I have accomplished with my writing. On the surface some might judge, not much, but the truth is I have leaved more in this past twelve months than in the previous decade of studying my craft. Although courses and workshops are valuable there is no substitute for butt-in-the-chair and trial-by-error. By trying different points of view, tenses, and storylines, I have been able to stretch myself as a writer. Last night, I had the opportunity to look over the first pages I worked on last July. I had thought they were pretty good, but now see everything that is wrong with them. For a moment I felt discouraged, then I recognized my growth and I now feel grateful. I’m grateful first and foremost to my family who have allowed me this time to stretch my wings and I’m thankful to my instructors and peers who have held my hand along the way.

So what’s next. Although I will not be getting another job in the immediate future, my time has been redirected and writing full-time is no longer possible (at least for the next few months). I have fought feelings of disappointment for the past week, but am now resigned, maybe even excited about the next chapter in my life. While working full-time I managed to write, a lot it seems in retrospect, and now I’m back to stealing minutes to work. Since I’ve resolved to hold tight to my writing dream, there is no turning back and I will do what it takes to keep up with my work. Who knows, I might become a more focused, and dare I hope, better writer.

Here is a video I have watched over and over again. I can relate too much of what Neil Gaiman speaks about in this commencement speech, particularly his point about making good art when life throws you a curve ball. A curve ball has been thrown my way and I intend to take it and make good art.


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4 Ways Gardening is Like Editing

This post originally appeared on Kate Arms-Roberts’ blog about writing and creativity on April 12, 2011. Now that it is summer and a year later, her garden is in a more mature stage of development and so is her novel, but the analogy remains a good one.

Irises and crocuses are blooming in my garden. Perennial herbs and vegetables are showing signs of life after the dormancy of a Northern winter.

Inside the house, I have completed the first complete critique of my novel. Pages of corrections wait for me to enter them into the computer.

And, as so often happens, these two simultaneous happenings have made me aware of connections I had not previously articulated: parallels between gardening and editing.

1. Location, Location, Location

Plants need the right conditions: soil, light, water all must feed the plant for it to grow. Sometimes you need to move a plant for it to thrive.

Scenes need to fall in the right place. Sometimes you write a scene for the middle of the story and then realize it works better at the beginning.

2. Treatment Matters

Too much water or fertilizer may kill plants as easily as too little.

Backstory needs to be dripped in like irrigation pipes bringing just enough water to the right plant to drive growth without flooding. Action without pauses for reflection may exhaust some readers.

3. Dormancy Can be Good

Last year, I planted rhubarb in my garden. A friend divided hers and gave me half. I knew nothing of rhubarb, but she said it was hard to kill. I planted it, and watered it. A few leaves died, and a few stayed green all summer, but there was no new growth. In the fall, it died back all the way to the ground. Having no understanding of the ways of rhubarb, I watched, wondering if this was, indeed, a survivor. A few days ago, I noticed bright red growth in the midst of the dead material. This morning, there are leaves coming out. This rhubarb will live!

I wrote the first draft of my novel last November. In December, I read it once and noted a few sections that needed to be cut and a few sections that needed to be fleshed out. Then, before I could revise it properly, I needed to let the project go dormant. For three months, I focused on directing a play. As the play neared production, I went back to the manuscript. By leaving it for a time, I was able to come back with a sense of perspective and a deeper understanding of some of the story elements I had glossed over in the first draft. This novel, too, may live!

4. Start With What You Have

The first house I lived in had an overgrown front yard and a mess of a backyard. To quickly beautify the landscaping, there was nothing to do but dig out the front and start again in both areas. So, we did.

Like that house, my first NaNoWriMo manuscript is a mess. Having looked at it through several editing lenses over the past few years, I have concluded there are no more than 3 scenes that might be worth saving, and those probably won′t be usable once I rewrite the rest. If I want to tell that story, I will be better off starting again from scratch.

Our current house had been cared for well by the previous owner, but featured plants I find boring or actively dislike. I have made changes slowly, looking at what is already in place and deciding how to convert it into something I like better without ever going through the completely dug up phase.

My current work-in-progress is similar. The first draft was strong enough that it holds together as a story. It needs major revision, but the core is strong. Editing what is there will work.

Editing a manuscript and gardening are both about looking at what already exists and making changes to bring that reality closer to an imagined goal.

I planted iris bulbs last fall after clearing space in an uninspiring flower bed. Seeing them bloom this year makes me smile. There are small clumps of them now. I hope they naturalize well and create bigger groupings for the future.

It may take time, but editing a garden or a manuscript produces results eventually.

Kate Arms-Roberts is a Toronto-based writer, though she has hailed from various locations in the U.S. and U.K. before landing in Canada. She blogs at and is currently working on a fantasy novel for teens.


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Love It or Leave It

There is no grey area here. If you hate what you are doing, do something else. Life should be enjoyed not endured. Now, I am not advocating ditching a job or a project just because you’re having a bad day. What I am saying is if you dread facing something, if you feel anxious and think you’re going to throw up if you have to face it/them one more time, you owe it to yourself to get out. I grew up hearing life sucks and then you die. What a very sad philosophy! Sometimes life does suck, and other times it doesn’t. When any one chunk of life sucks, you owe it to yourselves and everyone around you to decide how you can make it not suck, or at very least suck less.

As I have shared before, last year I did the uncommon sense thing and I left my paying job. My decision to leave was not an easy decision and did not come as the result of any one thing. What finally spurred me on to walk in that day and hand in my resignation came after I heard myself complaining to a friend yet again about work. I was sick of hearing myself and I realized in that moment that I had to do something about it. Again, that isn’t to say everyone who has a dream should go for it the moment they discover what they would rather be doing. It took many years to get myself in a mental and physical state to even consider leaving work. But when the time arrived, I knew it was the right time.

Now I’m home writing every day. Some days I’m extremely productive, and others not so much. Some days I think I am the most brilliant writer to ever be sent down to earth, but most days I think I’m a shoddy hack who is, at best, delusional and, at worst, a fraud. But at the end of every day, I’m happy. And the next morning, I arrive at my desk with a sense of wonder not dread.

The reality for writers is that we are, as they say, opening a vein and bleeding over our pages, day after day after day. So you better be able to stand the sight of blood and you better think you look okay with no clothes on, because you’re pretty much running down the street naked.

I have other interests, some of them even other arts, but I’m not willing to get on an emotional rollercoaster to experience them, and none of them make me feel like I’m losing my mind and at the same time make me worry I will implode from sheer joy. My other interests, my hobbies, make me happy, when I’m already happy, but aren’t where I turn when I’m less than happy. Writing is something I regularly and eagerly climb aboard the crazy train to experience. That’s how I know I’m doing the right thing.

Whether you are able, or even interested in, writing full-time, my wish for you would be that you are able to access your creativity with joy. Love what you are doing and do it to the best of your ability.

Life should be enjoyed, not endured.

Here is a video featuring John Irving who speaks to this love it or leave it point.


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When to Hold Them and When to Fold Them

In my writing circle we have had an ongoing conversation about what to tell our reader and what to withhold. I’m in the camp of Save Some Bits for Later, but appreciate holding back has to be done artfully so the reader isn’t left feeling manipulated.

When Not To Withhold Information

A good gage as to whether you can withhold information from you reader is to ask yourself whether the viewpoint character is privy to this information. If he/she knows it, the reader should know it.

You can however, withhold information from a reader if the character isn’t yet aware of that piece of information. Sixth Sense is an example of where withheld information works only because the character himself isn’t yet aware of the fact he is dead. When he learns of it, so do we.

Many new writers believe by withholding information they are providing a sense of suspense and are better able to implement a twist. I personally love being surprised and especially love writing in a twist, but know this again has to be done correctly. Here is what the authors of Self Editing for Fiction Writers suggest when you are looking to build in a surprise.

“If you have a plot development that you want to surprise, spend less space on it before you spring it on your reader. Or perhaps you could spend as much or more space on similar plot elements to mask the really important one.” Self Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne and Dave King

The authors are not suggesting you withhold information, just that you shape your reader’s response to your plot. This technique is subtle but powerful.

When To Withhold Information

On the other side of the coin there are writers who withhold nothing. This is also guaranteed to upset your reader who may feel you are patronizing them. Gone are the days of long, winding, image packed, descriptions. Thank you twenty-first century  ‘sound bite’ culture!

When you provide your reader with too much information, a blow-by-blow account of who is moving here and what is placed there, you run the risk of undermining the energy of a scene. Staging a scene is different from micro-managing where your reader’s eyes and attention are pulled. Staging is important, drawing out every action and response is not. Leave out the mundane and let your reader fill in the bridging details. Here again is what the authors of  Self Editing for Fiction Writers suggest.


The phone rang. Geraldine walked across the room and picked it up. “Hello,” she said.

An author nowadays can simply write

The phone rang.

“Hello,” Geraldine said.

…leave the rest of the action to the reader’s imagination.


As always I would love to hear from you. Today’s question – How do you decide what to say and what to shut up about?

I’ve included below an interview with Stephen King and Audrey Niffenegger who speak about leaving something to the reader’s imagination.


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10 Tips on Writing Dialogue

Writing riveting dialogue is as easy as walking the plank! It seems like a straight path. We all speak, we all listen to others speak, we can hear our characters speak, but if you’re not careful and if you’re not paying close attention to where you’re going, the path (plank) will end and you (and your writing) will wind up a soggy, dripping mess.

More often than not, dialogue is a must in fiction, but having your characters speak just because you like the sound of their voices isn’t a good enough reason to include huge chunks of dialogue.

As with every other word you write, your dialogue must serve a specific purpose. Dialogue must contribute to the plot, reveal character and provide necessary information to the reader. Really good dialogue offers foreshadowing and breathes breath into your characters.

Dialogue gives your characters a verbal as well as physical distinction. Each person must sound different if they are to be believable. Through their conversations, readers should be able to sort out your characters educational background, age, occupation, and where they are from.

Here are a 10 few tips I’ve picked up on how to write good dialogue.

Listen Up

Listen to people, to their natural speech patterns, to the music of every day speech. Then edit out the filler words, all the ums, and the ahs – as they say, all the boring bits. Real people may speak like that, but your reader doesn’t want to read their hesitations unless you as the writer are including them to paint a clearer picture of the speaker.

Comes Naturally

In order to give your dialogue a natural flow and not sound stilted use contractions, have your characters break off sentences, and have them interrupt each other.

Listen Harder

You will never be able to hear your characters if you don’t listen. But beware. It isn’t good enough to just let them ramble while you write everything that comes out of their mouths. It can be a huge mistake to relinquish complete control and/or to indulge your characters,  allowing them to rant endlessly and to go off on wild, irrelevant tangents. By copying down verbatim what they say you run the risk of becoming nothing more than a transcriber. What you must do is listen to not only what they are saying but also what they aren’t saying.


The subtext to any conversation indicates what is implied rather than what is stated explicitly. When you hear what your characters aren’t saying you’ll be able to lace your dialogue with subtext. Away from your story, you may want to have your character keep a journal. Once you’ve done this for a while you’ll see what motivates the conversations they initiate and how they respond to what others say to them. Lean, anticipated dialogue is more interesting and powerful then paint-by-number style conversations, i.e. I did this, and this, and this, because…

No Dumping      

Beware of talking heads who are hell-bent on dropping every piece of information needed (and not needed) into the lap of the reader as they babble on and on and on. Dialogue is not to be used for information dumps. Although it does play a part in revealing information, dialogue cannot be the only way you provide pertinent facts to your reader. Let your story unfold naturally using all the tools at your disposal – back story, setting, description and action.

Break It Up

Dialogue should contribute, not dominate your story.  It is extremely important that you drop your reader into a scene, allowing them to see as well as hear what is going on. To accomplish this you will have to break up long sections of dialogue with action. Move your characters around while they are speaking. Show the reader what they are doing, how they are standing, what they are touching.

Tag It

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to think of clever ways to say he/she said. It’s the conversation you want the reader to see, not the tags. The occasional cried, barked, whispered, are okay but start adding too many and your tags stop being part of the wallpaper and will become an annoying distraction.

What Did He Say?

Be very careful when using dialects. My advice would be, if you aren’t really good at writing a unique turn of speech or regional accent, that you avoid it. Of course, what a character says and how they say it tells us as much about him as his actions do. So by all means, give your characters a distinctive voice, but limit your vernacular to the odd word or phrase per character.


If you don’t know the correct way to punctuate dialogue, learn it. Nothing can be more frustrating than writing (and potentially good dialogue) that is incorrectly punctuated. There are several good grammar books available for writers to learn this all important skill.  A quick internet search will provide you ample reference books to choose from.

Say It Out Loud 

Always, always, always read your dialogue out loud. What appears brilliant to your eyes may sound phony and stilted to your ears. Only by hearing it will you be able to determine whether your words sing or are completely tone-deaf.


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Farewell to a Friend

This past weekend, I was reminded of the true meaning of unconditional love, a lesson that will stay with me forever and that will hopefully make me a better person and by extension, a better writer. As a rule, I have tried not to discuss my family too much (if you know me personally, you will know there is little I enjoy talking about more than my family) and have tried to keep the focus of my blog postings on writing. But, with your permission, I would like to share with you what losing our sixteen-year-old black Labrador Retriever has meant to me and to my family.

Jazz wasn’t supposed to be our dog, but in the split second it took for her to tear past me sixteen years ago, my heart knew she was indeed, my dog. As it turns out, an acquaintance of my husband had an eight month old puppy that wasn’t getting the attention she deserved and this woman cared enough for her, to want to find a family who could give her what she needed. My husband thought of his brother who already had one Lab and it was at his brother’s house I first met my dear friend. Unfortunately, the idea of a female partner drove the first dog crazy, which drove my brother-in-law’s family crazy, the end result being, Jazz came to live with us.

Jazz was a perfect match for our family and before long she adopted my husband as her favourite person in the universe.

But alas, for the past year we have watched as Jazz’s body began to show her age and ultimately betrayed her. Over this past weekend, my husband had to carry her down the stairs. Knowing he had a day of gardening in front of him and knowing Jazz wasn’t about to let him do so without her, we placed her bed next to the planter. She never lay down. Refusing to leave his side despite her obvious pain, she dragged herself back-and-forth from the shed to the garden, matching each of his movements with lumbering strides and occasional stops to catch her breath. It was obvious her body had finally decided enough was enough. Yesterday morning, we made an appointment for her and again carried her outside to sit in the gazebo one last time while we had our morning coffee. For the last few days, I have thought about Sasha Trudeau’s black Lab that sat at the lake’s edge where Sasha’s body had been swept by an avalanche slide, also refusing to leave his friend’s side. I cried when I read that story knowing full well Jazz would have done the same.

The joy of having Jazz in our lives and now the sorrow I feel with her passing, will make me a better writer.

I’ve talked about it before, but in order for a writer, regardless of their genre, to write relatable stories, they must be willing to dig deep. Having just gone through the painful experience of watching Jazz struggle to remain the best dog for us, and then to watch her close her eyes and hear the vet whisper, “She’s gone,” has added another layer to me and hopefully to my future writing. Whenever I am called on to write about loyalty, sacrifice, dignity, unconditional love, or letting go, I will be able to look back at Jazz’s life and know I’ve seen each before.

She was a dear friend and we will miss her.


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And a One, and a Two, and a Three

I don’t play music, but I sure do love it. Shake my paternal family tree and look out, because a lot of very good musicians are going to land on you. I’m extremely proud to say my three children, and now my grandchild, have all inherited the musical gene. Music is and always has been a huge part of my life.

So, no one had to tell me how music could/would affect my moods. When I’m facing long hours of housecleaning, I like to put on fast, upbeat music which energizes me. Never having been a person who enjoys exercise, I make sure my IPod is loaded with great music before I set out for a walk. When one (or all) of my children were being, let’s call it—challenging, and I found myself wondering how much I could sell them for, I’d dial in CBC Classical and watch their (and my) mood quiet.

Now that I write full-time I don’t have the luxury of waiting for my muse to stir awake whenever she feels like it. Each and every day, I arrive at my computer determined to produce. Nice, but some days my darling muse really does just want to stay in bed. So, what’s a girl to do? Music. The quickest and least painful way to end my muse’s snorefest is to plug in Mozart Symphony No. 40 and let it rip.

A lot has been written about the power of music on the brain and creativity. It’s a proven fact that children who study music perform better in school. It turns out Einstein used music for creative inspiration. In particular, pieces paced at 60 beats per minute engage the brain at a lower subconscious level and with a relaxed mind, our creative brain is able to roam.

Classical music works best for me, but you may have to try different types to find what gets your creative juices flowing. Although I don’t listen to it as I’m writing, I often put on songs with strong lyrics—Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Carol King, (Did I just date myself?) when I’m trying to get my brain in a poetic frame of mind. However, as a general rule, I prefer instrumental pieces when I’m actually working. Being a wordsmith, I get too lost in the lyrics if I hear someone else’s brilliant language.

What do you listen to when you write?

Here’s an interesting video about improv and what your brain looks like as you are creating.

“Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation — so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.” TED Talks


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You Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine

Oh, when to show your work and when not to, therein lies the question. For many writers we have been showing our writing to teachers and parents all of our lives. After all, most of us knew we wanted to write from the time we were in grade school. But once you’ve graduated from class papers and essays, once you’ve become serious about your work, when is a good time to show others your work and who should you show it to?

Don’t show it too soon

Too often we are excited and proud of our work and like new love, want to shout it from the rooftop. I suggest when you feel the urge to strip and strut during a first draft that you keep your shorts on and not show it to anyone. Step away and take a break. Although it is brilliant that you think you are the next Shakespeare, showing others your work when it is in those early stages of development could derail you and make the second, third and fourth drafts difficult to face. By nature a first draft is just that, a first draft. It’s cookie dough that has yet to be shaped and baked. Don’t get me wrong, cookie dough is delicious, as I’m sure your first draft is, but it isn’t a cookie and your work isn’t a story yet.

When you spend time yakking up your work and flashing it around to all and sundry, you are depleting your own creative energy. Save that energy and direct it toward your next draft.

Be careful who you show it to

So you have heeded my advice and decided to hold off showing your baby to anyone until you have given it a bit of spit and polish. Now the question is who do you show it to?

Not your mother. Lord, not your mother.

Moms are great. I have one and I am one. But when I think of moms, I think of them as belonging to one of two camps. You have the cheerleaders and you have the crushers. Although my mother thinks I am amazing as her kid, her biggest worry is I’ll get too big for my britches and feels it her duty to keep me grounded with comments like: You can’t make money as a writer. Don’t quit your day job – oops too late for that. Aren’t you finished that book yet?

Cheerleader moms are not much better. Although you never leave them feeling like you want to slit your wrists, their comments may not be valuable feedback. Remember your crappy tissue paper artwork she still has in a shoebox in the closet? I rest my case.

There’s a reason doctors are not permitted to operate on family members! Friends and family are most likely not writers and showing them your work is at best little more than a crap shoot and at worst bone-crushing, mind-numbing, ego-shattering suicide.

Writing Groups

I am privileged to belong to a very good critiquing group and have found their feedback valuable. As long as there are one or more skilled writers in your group, or at least beginning writers who are taking the necessary steps to become skilled writers i.e. workshops, courses, reading about their craft, I would suggest you listen to what is being offered. Most groups are able to provide feedback on structure, character, pacing and syntax. However, it is still important to remember it is your work and it would be artistic suicide to allow your writing to be dictated by a group. Don’t write to please your writing group.  Weigh carefully and thoughtfully what they suggest. If you ask six writers their opinion of your work, you will undoubtedly receive six different opinions. If however, all six, or the majority of the six, hold the same opinion, listen to them because there is very likely truth in what they are saying.

The other caveat I offer is you must trust your group members to critique the writing, not the writer.  Be careful that the criticism never becomes personal. As writers we tend to be sensitive people and our egos are easily wounded. If  you ever feel the feedback has shifted off your writing and onto you personally, run for the hills. Trust is non-negotiable in a writing group.

Beta Reader

Like a good  Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, one trusted, honest, reliable person to read your writing will keep you on track. It is priceless to have a person who has the best interests for your writing in mind and who knows your work and your intention for the work. Although it may appear they are a rare bird, I know they exist. So, seek out and find one of those rare birds.

A reliable beta reader, a good writing group and determination to make your writing the strongest it can be will take you the distance.

I would love to hear how you decide when and who to show your work to.


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