Monday, January 31, 2011

A Kick in the Kaboose by Janet Bly

So, how have you been doing with your resolutions for 2011? I (Annette) realized with shock last Thursday that January was just about over. And here we are, this Manuscript Monday, on the final day of the month. Did you do everything you'd hoped to in the last thirty-one days? Are you off to a good start? Just in case you need it, author Janet Bly is here to help motivate and encourage.

A Kick in the Kaboose*
Janet Bly

“Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.” (I Chronicles 22:16b, NIV).

If you wanna be a writer, develop more than your talent.

You need courage to keep knocking at editors’ doors when they’re shut in your face.

You need stamina for long days and sleepless nights when deadlines loom.

You need persistence when you know you’ve poured on paper or screen your best wit and no one seems to want to read it.

Learn how to get yourself started each day and keep chugging. Know when to get up from other diversions and write instead.

1.) You’ve got to want it.

The competition’s stiff. The publishing road’s narrow. Expect to create hundreds of pages of private slush piles to discover articles or stories worthy of public viewing.

2.) Milk the resources.

Sign up for another class. Attend another conference. Read a writing how-to book. Join an online writing group.

3.) Allow tough folks to read your stuff.

Determine who in your sphere tells the truth and it actually helps. If he or she likes a line, place it first. Spread the prose from there. This will keep you writing your best.

4.) Be thankful for your duds.

Nothing’s ever wasted. No need to quit. It’s all fodder for the journey. Pursue the next thing to do. Dig for the real treasure. Noodle it out. . .one word, one project at a time.

5.) Get real.

You’re not like other writers. . .in vigor, variety, or volume. But you’ll find your part in the grand communication scheme. . .if you keep writing.

6.) Tell someone. . .

who won’t let it go. . .what you’re gonna write and when. Get yourself a faithful nag.

7.) Don’t whine about work.

Churn the brain. Fight through fits of hit and miss. Pour over pages. Re-write chapters. Burn the rubber for interviews, visits to locales. Create a paper trail that circles the globe. That’s what writers do.

8.) Study other writers. . .

. . .who keep on writing, no matter what. How did they find their place? Their time? Their slot? When did their God-given talent finally meet a need in the world?

9.) Try some tricks.

Type one enticing word. Pour out every possible thought about that word.

Combine a word from the dictionary with an object in the room to create a story.

Talk at least ten minutes with the next stranger who is willing.

Listen to instrumental music, with your eyes closed, fingers on the keyboard.

Scan a phone book for mixing names to create some new characters.

Read a page from one of your favorite authors, then sit down to write it, your way.

Study the first lines of ten different books.

Take a walk with a notebook. Don’t return until three pages are full.

Write a mish-mash of nonsense until something makes sense. Take it from there.

10.) Connect with the Creator.

Ask the Author of your talent, “What’s next?” Allow the giver of all your gifts to direct you. To spark an idea. To form your message. To make you the writer you were created to be.

Janet Chester Bly has authored 11 books, such as Awakening Your Sense of Wonder and Hope Lives Here. She has also co-authored 18 others with husband, Stephen, Christy award-winning western novelist, including The Carson City Chronicles and The Hidden West Series. Find out more about the Blys at or their blog:
copyright 2001, 2011

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