Category Archives: Writing Tips

Just Take It Bird by Bird

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How do you view the world right now? For some, the world seems smaller as we weather this pandemic together. Others feel overwhelmed by a world filled with pain, suffering and conflicting information. Maybe everything that’s going on in the world right now is affecting your ability to write. If so, you are not alone.

When you quarantined at home, you celebrated having plenty of time to write. You set goals: I’m going to start writing my novel. I’m finally going to finish my novel. I’ll write a thousand words a day. Two thousand. Three. Four. Five! Chances are those lofty goals fell by the wayside leaving you in a slump.

American novelist, Ann Lamott, keeps a tiny, one-inch picture frame on her desk as a reminder to give herself short writing assignments. Viewing the world through a frame the size of a postage stamp helps her to zero in and focus on one thing at a time.

In her book Bird by Bird, Lamott shares this autobiographical story:

usps_1_0“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Maybe today you are sitting at your kitchen table staring at your computer screen or an empty sheet of paper. Maybe you feel immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.

Stop. Breathe.

Peer through that one-inch frame. It can only hold the image of one bird. So sit down and write “bird by bird”. Just take it bird by bird by bird . . .

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Filed under Encouragement, Inspiration, Movtivation, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing Tips

Writing Is Better with Bacon

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If you are like me, you’ve ventured outside your comfort zone and sampled at least one strange bacon infused concoction. Donuts, pickles, jam, ice cream, brownies . . . Everything is better with bacon—even the craft of writing!

“Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

1001_image1_slicker_francis_baconWho said it? 

The Renaissance-era scientist and philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon. He, perhaps unknowingly, packed a powerful writing lesson into that one simple sentence.

Let’s break it down.

READING fills a writer with knowledge, ideas and a better understanding of technique. When a writer reads, he or she learns more about the craft of writing by experiencing various writing styles, voices, forms and genres.

CONFERENCE inspires writers to write. Have you come away from a writers’ conference filled with ideas and readiness? Of course you have! Conversing with other writers and creative people sparks motivation. It prepares a writer to write.

EXACTNESS is the final part of Bacon’s lesson. A ready writer works diligently to find the exact words to convey an exact meaning. That’s the most difficult part of writing, taking knowledge and readiness and weaving them into something great.

Reading makes a full writer; conference a ready writer; and writing an exact writer.

The next time you feel stuck, remember Sir Francis’ words:

Read. 
Converse. 
Be exact.

and remember:
Writing is better with Bacon!

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Sir Francis’ mother was a cook who married a bacon.
Anne (nee Cooke) Bacon.

Some scholars believe Sir Francis faked his own death.
He wanted to live—without bringing home the bacon!

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Filed under Uncategorized, writing, Writing craft, Writing Process, Writing Tips