What I learned on my summer vacation, part II

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned while at Chautauqua was to change my writing process.  I had developed several bad habits as a writer, and I learned how much they were affecting me.

1.  I wrote only on my computer: no planning, no sketching,  no brainstorming, no making of dummy books.  This leads to technically perfect sentences written around a gaping hole: little or no story.

2. I had transformed into my own editor.  Typing three sentences and rewriting two , constantly self-editing, seeking the prefect word before I even had a full draft of a paragraph, much less the whole story.

3. I had lost sight of the main goal: to write a story.  Not a picture book, not a magazine article, not a novel.  A STORY.  No matter what form, genre, fiction or nonfiction, the overall goal is to tell a story.  A story that grabs the reader and sits her down saying, “You’re going to be a while, so get comfortable.  Sorry if you don’t get enough sleep tonight.”

So, armed with the truth, I marched into the bookstore and bought myself a sketchpad and a set of colored pencils.  (Okay, I didn’t really need the colored pencils, as I’m no artist, but maybe I’ll learn how to draw along the way.  Will Strong, an illustrator I met, pointed out that art, like most things, needs to be taught.)

And I was thrilled when, during my second critique, Eric exclaimed “That’s it!  That’s what I want to see.”  When an acclaimed picture book author announces you’ve got it, well, I just wanted to burst into song a la Eliza Doolittle!

I’ve started slowly, but surely.  I am writing more – if not every day, a majority of days.  I am not doing so only at my computer.  I am thinking more, brainstorming more, and writing fewer sentences – for the moment.  Improving my process means improving my stories.

And that may mean focusing less on picture books and more on my supposed side project: my novel of Old Salem.


3 thoughts on “What I learned on my summer vacation, part II

  1. Great to hear you had a “That’s it!” response. Thanks for sharing how your process has changed. I can’t draw, but also cannot resist colored pencils. Good luck with your progress on picture books or the novel. Writing is writing.

  2. Hi Leslie, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and what you learned. It’s really helped me! Enjoying following your process and successes! Keep it up!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s