Curation Saturday: If You Can Talk, You Can Write

One of my favorite recent purchases [August 2017 is recent for me] is the book, If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman. [Not an affiliate link. I just couldn’t easily find how own website.]

Here are a few points I’ve revisited today in my reading session:

  • “Whether you’re struggling with a single sentence or polishing a book-length manuscript, let progress be your guide, not perfection your nemesis.”
  • “Along the way, you’ll develop technique, stamina and—if you’re lucky—the ability to make your next effort better than the last.”
  • “Conquer your worry about not writing by writing every day—either by counting the minutes or counting the pages.” In my case, I’ve been counting the words. I’ve done so ever since the January 500 Word Challenge.

Curation Saturday

Let’s focus on Jon Winokur‘s tweets for today.

1. When you’re speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice. [Just last night I dove into a fairly serious topic. It was okay, but it just wasn’t fun to write, especially in the revision stage. I’m not sure if I’ll find that universal voice…and do I even care to?]
CHERYL STRAYED #amwriting#writing #writinglife

2.  #Editing is the same thing as quarreling with writers. Same thing exactly. HAROLD ROSS #amwriting #publishing [Whew-boy, was I rediscovering that this morning…]

3. “When you’re #writing and come to a rough spot and the ideas just aren’t flowing, put down dummy text and keep on moving…” #amwriting #writetips

4. There’s always room for a #story that can transport people to another place.
J.K. ROWLING #amwriting #fiction

5. #Creativity is the residue of wasted time.
ALBERT EINSTEIN #amwriting #writing #writinglife   [I must be extremely creative.]

Curation Saturday–Tweets About Writing

A few favorites from Jon Winokur’s recent Tweets…


Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.
ESTHER FREUD #amwriting #writing #writinglife


Write what you want. People rarely recognize themselves on the page. And if they do, they’re often flattered that a writer has paid attention.


“Most people have no concept of writing, or what’s involved with the process…”
David Sedaris

One of *those* kind of writing nights…


This is one of those nights when I need to set a timer to get me going on my 500 words.

This is one of those nights when I find emptying the trash and relining the container an easy go-to instead of writing.—one of those ‘must-do’ items before I sit down.

This is one of those nights when I keep looking at the timer.

This is one of those nights when I keep editing as I go [there, I did it again…I had typed ‘mistakes’ and wanted ‘typos’ instead and then I went back and substituted ‘editing as I go’. It’s madness! Make it stop!]

This is one of those nights when I have to have some music playing in my head while I write. [Of course, the very act of opening iTunes and selecting some instrumental stuff—Dave Brubeck, in this case—is another avoidance tactic, though I hope it pays off down the line with keeping me focused.

This is one of those nights when I’m thinking ahead to the weekend when I have garage-cleaning and general decluttering on my list. Notice I didn’t mention writing. What’s wrong with that picture?

This is one of those nights when I am hyper-tempted to click on the ESPN window to check the latest Olympic results. How many smarter people have told writers like me to just plain turn off the Internet? I hate those people. I mean really, why should I tolerate anybody who has me pegged right down to the exact website I have temptingly available?

This is one of those nights when I’m glad I have ‘copy/paste’ down pat so I can keep repeating ‘This is one of those nights when’ and chalk up cheap words. But I have to say…it adds a certain rhythm to this masterpiece. ‘Rhythm’…’monotony’…tomato-tomahto.

This is one of those nights when I have more than a few topics I’m thinking of tackling, thus resulting in my taking a stab at none of them.

This is one of those nights when I’m back to the timer. One minute left in the 11 minute stint. 362 words in 10+ minutes, I’ll take it. Of course, if you’re still reading, you’re reaching through your screen to strangle me, which would be okay if you’d let me write about it for my next 500 words.

This is one of those nights when I’m glad I’ve reached 400 words and am slogging my way to 500. Aren’t we all just feeling exceedingly gratified?

This is one of those nights when I recalled that Valentines Day offered so much possible material and, once again, I dropped the ball.

This is one of those nights when I know I need to put in at least a scene, or part of a scene, in my kids book first draft.

So I guess I should be thinking about that and looking up where I left off.

This is one of those nights when it’s about time to move on with my other projects, satisfied that I’ve put in 500+ words in one sitting and pleased that I had forgotten about the 180 words I did when I got home from work. Okay, then, back to the kids book.

And this is one of those nights when I can pat myself on the back for not checking ESPN during this stint.

But first…a five-minute editing session.

Writing Tip of the Day: Moving to the bigger picture

think big painted on wall

The last two days we covered rationalizations.

But as I was slaving [slaving, I tell you] over those two posts, I noticed the living room needed a little straightening.

That’s when the ‘I’m writing.’ rationalization kicked in. A close call. I almost pulled myself out of the chair and did something productive.

It was then I realized this tennis match between reasons for writing and not writing speaks to this: Our neuroses, weirdnesses, and just plain humanness can fuel daily inspiration, development of characters and plot, and blog content for decades to come.

And trust me, our humanness never stops.

Well, okay, until that whole persistent breathing habit stops.

At that point, progress does tend to drop off a bit.

And please, don’t get me started on cryogenics.

500-Word Challenge: The Final Day–A ‘Conversation’ with Jon Acuff

finish lance-grandahl-435209

A Conversation with Jon Acuff

Today’s Challenge Prompt from Jeff Goins is about finishing this 15,500 word adventure. More than likely more than that.

And so I chose to bring in a guy who is currently on the forefront of finishing, Jon Acuff, who published Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done.

I bought the book and it is the most recent one I’ve, uh, finished.

A worthwhile investment, I have to say.

Moving on…I selected some quotes—in italics—from the book [thank you, Goodreads] and will apply them to my 500-Word Challenge experience.

Here goes…

[By the way, I’m not counting the quotes as words toward my total. That would be flat-out cheating, right?]

“The harder you try to be perfect, the less likely you’ll accomplish your goals.”

Jon, you did a nice job picking apart perfection and it helped me rip through my challenges without listening too intently for ‘the voices’. One hundred word bursts were often the norm and that felt good. What else felt good? Clicking ‘post’, even though I knew the writing wasn’t a third draft product. I will admit there were times when I spent a little too much time editing, and even adding an image to spice things up, but all in all, it was nice to have that feeling of ‘my work here is done’.

“But more than just analysis, perfectionism offers us two distinct distractions: Hiding places and Noble obstacles A hiding place is an activity you focus on instead of your goal. A noble obstacle is a virtuous-sounding reason for not working toward a finish. Both are toxic to your ability to finish.”

These two concepts tagged along throughout the month. Much of the writing certainly didn’t address many of my main goals, such as developing an online course as well as completing stories in a series I’m working on. And while I benefited considerably from the month, I wondered if I leaped into this as yet another side trip, yet another ‘hiding place’. I think those terms are essentially other words for ‘rationalizations’ and I could easily rationalize my participation—building consistency, rising above perfection, exploring new directions and voices, even. But at the end of this month, what will I have to show for it? A corollary to your chapter on hiding places and noble objectives—the more we delve into those side trips, the more of a burden we face…not only in playing catch-up with the projects we really want to finish, but in somehow justifying our decisions to veer off-course. And we not only at times have to justify it to ourselves, but we might also have some stakeholders we might have to convince. No easy feat.

The bigger rule was “For something to count, it has to be difficult.” A lot of high performers carry that sort of secret rule along with them. If an exercise is enjoyable and you have fun doing it, it must not count.

Bravo to me for not falling prey to this secret rule. The 500-Word Challenge was rarely a grind. And when it felt that way, it was more a product of stupid annoying technology. It was fun to come up with new directions and new formats for the daily challenges. I enjoyed the Q and A from imaginary readers and will continue to play with that. For the last year, I’ve for the most part played it straight in my blog and this challenge often enabled me to cut loose a bit. Uh-oh, confession time. I strayed from this challenge to ensure I quoted you correctly: Make It Fun If You Want It Done. And in the process, I ran across your Finish workbook. That baby is printing out as I’m completing this sentence.

All you have to do is win more today than you did yesterday and repeat the whole thing tomorrow.”

Okay, I’ve passed my 500-word goal already, but I’ll close by addressing this quote. Love it. And the challenge absolutely cemented this philosophy. So what’s next? Staying the course set by this final quote and building a focus on fun, halving my daily goals, keeping an eye on data [even if it’s words per day…or productive habits practiced], and dodging the ever-present hiding places and noble objectives.

Image courtesy of Lance Grandahl/Unsplash