Margaret Ethridge · writing advice


It’s been a really busy writing year for me. It’s not quite September and I’ve already passed the word count goal I set for myself back in January, but I can’t stop now. I have drafts of three more novellas, eight short stories, and a novel to write before the first quarter of 2013 comes to a close. Needless to say, I won’t be prying my butt from the chair anytime soon.

I’m discovering that one of the hazards of writing on successive deadlines is the development of tunnel vision. When I caught myself becoming so wrapped up in getting from the beginning to the end that I forgot to enjoy the ride in between, I knew it was time to fall back. That’s why I’ve been reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass again this week.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this particular novella is going to be ‘The One’ to make me the newest ebook sensation. I just needed to remind myself that every story I write has the potential to be special if I take the proper time and care with it.

There are so many good tips in Writing the Breakout Novel. Things I already know but tend to set aside as I’m trying to work in that fabulous bit of dialogue that popped into my head on the drive home from work. I need to remember these things when I get frustrated with my hero or heroine because they refuse to give in and get naked already.

I think it’s good for any writer to refresh the lessons we learned when we started taking this journey. Even the smallest reminder can tug the chain that turns on the lightbulb. There are a few books and seminars I go back to revisit from time to time. Aside from Mr. Maass’ book, I often refer to the copious notes I took in Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict seminar.

In my experience, revisiting these lessons not only reinforces the skill set we work so hard to master, it also validates the knowledge base we’ve already accumulated. Knowledge is indeed power. I think I just need to remember to unplug my focus from my WIP on occasion and tap into the power of a good lesson learned.

What about you? Have you ever had one of those ‘A-ha!’ moments? Ever caught yourself thinking, ‘Hey! I already do that and I didn’t even know it!’ as you scribble notes in a seminar? What books, classes, or speakers have you found to be most helpful in keeping your writing grounded? Which have inspired you to dig deeper and aim higher?

4 thoughts on “Touchstones

  1. Oh, Brinda, I think ‘insane’ might be more fitting than ‘inspiring’, but you are very sweet. I think it’s good for us all to revisit our lessons learned in order to move forward. Onward and upward! 🙂

  2. All of you DSRA Ladies inspire me! I learn something everytime I am around Ya’ll! Have a great weekend!

  3. I think you’re so right. Sometimes you just need to take a time out and remember why you write and love writing in the first place. It’s about the journey. I’m gonna have to check out this Donald guy. Great post, Margaret! 🙂

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