Avoid Vacuum-Writing. It Sucks.
Last time I wrote on the Final Twist Blog about how I avoided writing in a vacuum outside my office: plentiful proficient people – aka your writers group! But I don’t stop there. A writing space is ripe for filling with things, good or bad. Mine requires a daily cleanse to maintain mental health and focus, but I wouldn’t want it empty. Keeping the
area full of actively helpful sources prevents the distractions from finding space and taking root.
There are so many tools that can help an author get through issues, and I need mine close at hand. The top five I reach for aren’t pretty boxes with plot tricks or inspirational quotes. I go for the paper literary tools, virtual or otherwise.
- “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Stephen King, On Writing. Your writing craft resource doesn’t have to be this particular book, but it’s well-quoted for a reason. The creator is prolific, talented, and famous. When someone like that shares his or her insight, it’s smart to listen. Scientists read Einstein. Authors read Einstein and King.
- “The human mind is not by nature scientific. Rational thinking is a learned skill. (The front page of your daily newspaper should be regarded as evidence of this…)”. Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold is also a big hitter for me. It’s my genre book and more. The focus is on world creation, which is important no matter the fiction genre, but David Gerrold also delves into good writing and how to achieve it while staying motivated.
- It may be elementary, but my dictionary and thesaurus are both well-used and necessary tools. Not all are created equal, but I find www.dictionary.com works fine for me. The Webster’s dictionary makes appearances via www.merriam-webster.com, and both sites allow my monitor to fit on the same table, unlike the printed versions. Thesauruses are found at the same websites on different tabs. My writing “kinks” include over-using certain words, so the thesaurus is virtually propped open every editing session. A spectacular author recently clued me in to The Synonym Finder by J.I Rodale, and it’s at the top of my Christmas list in tandem with…
- The 2013 Writer’s Market. Knowing what publishers are looking for and the format they need it in is the same as understanding the application process for any other job. Your query letter/writing/application will be shuffled into oblivion the moment the hiring company realizes you didn’t read their directions or understand the market you are trying to work in. Arm yourself with the knowledge available.
As a side note: visit your target publishers on-line to make sure they haven’t updated mid-year before sending your precious written baby for automatic rejection.
- The grammar book your publisher prefers. Even with standardization being the hot new thing, they aren’t all the same. If you don’t have a publisher, The Chicago Manual of Style is highly referenced.
As writers, our paths are well-traveled ones. Using the knowledge of those who walked ahead successfully, along with the tools of the trade creates an enjoyable journey!
What references and tools keep you writing?
Natasha Storfer is a graduate of Texas A&M’s College of Engineering. After years of working within the limitations imposed by the laws of science, she turned to fiction as an outlet for imagination and creativity. Her writing includes fantasy, sci-fi, cyber-punk, and mystery.