Monday, January 7, 2013

Timeless Advice

What does the dawn of a new year prompt you to do? 

Make resolutions?

Start new projects?

Scan the horizon for opportunities?

It makes me do all of the above, and reflect on events and things I've learned in the previous year.

While sifting through writing tips that impacted me in 2012, my thoughts rested on timeless advice.

You know, the kind that sticks and finds application in everything you write.

The first tidbit that popped into my head came from an info sheet entitled Weedy Words. It was included with my course materials from the Institute of Children's Literature.  

It spoke of the importance of weeding unnecessary words, not only to meet word counts, but for sharp prose. To my newbie thinking, I was axing precious verbiage. I learned, though, that crisp writing didn't mean sacrificing good content. This advice continues to have a huge impact on my work.

What ageless pearls of wisdom have influenced your writing?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange


  1. great question...I'm still waiting for the coffee to kick in but I think I do try to use strong verbs and strong images. Lots of sensory. My writing probably isn't as crisp as it should be but I agree that crisp writing is more powerful. Happy New Year!

  2. Probably the advice to employ all senses in my descriptions, something that didn't come natural to me.

  3. I've learned that non-fiction sells better than fiction. Or at least, it gives the author more opportunities and ways to promote it.

  4. Just to finish my work in progress!Happy New Year!

  5. Patience would be mine. The publishing process is slow. I didn't have patience in the beginning - back some ten years. I do now.

  6. Jessica,
    I think you did well while waiting on the coffee! lol I can totally relate. :) I think your book reflected plenty of sensory images!

    I like that advice! Since I focus often more on nonfiction, I forget about things like this. Glad you shared it!

    This is true, and with exception to my WIP, I lean toward nonfiction as well. Good point!

    I hear you! Me too. :) Happy New Year to you too!

    Ah, now there's a good one! Think I need some more of that. Thanks for sharing! :)


  7. I don't make resolutions (as you probably know). But I like to refocus.

    I think you've talked about unnecessary words before, Karen, and so I do think about it as I'm writing. Thanks for that.

  8. I like your comment "reflecting on things I have learned." That is what I do in the new year.

    As far as advice, I also graduated from the Institute Of Children's Writing. It came as a shock to me that I could write about something other then myself. I could actually make things up. Ha Ha. Guess I was a bit dense back then.

  9. I'm a graduate of the Institute of Children's Lit, too :-) Timeless words that took a long time to really soak in? Don't just think about writing or talk about writing--write! It's all about getting those words down. Happy New Year, Karen...

  10. Every time I meet a new person, especially writers, I learn something. How to effectively use words comes in blog posts, short stories, bite sized bits of non-fic. All so useful!

  11. I have a great devotion on perseverence that i actually connect to writing as well. I'll probably post it on my blog soon.

    I still need to make my goals for the year. I usually look forward to doing.

  12. Oh, I remember that ICL list! I have referred to it in my writing group, but I didn't remember the name of it. Weedy Words - that's it. I, too, found it very helpful.

  13. Weedy Words, I like that. Writing tight, wisdom I try to live by.

  14. Make resolutions.

    Start new projects.

    Scan the horizon for opportunities.

    Mine is all 3. Write. Write and write better and better (hopefully).

  15. Ha, I was working on that very thing today! Weeding out the unnecessary words.

  16. Weedy words sounds pretty wise to me. Also makes me yearn for summer when I get to weed the garden. Meantime I'm word weedy as we speak.

    Happy New Year, Karen! Best to you in 2013~!

  17. I like the idea of leaving the important words--don't cut for the sake of cutting!

    Normally I don't do resolutions, but this year I did. I will be braver, more patient, and good to myself.

    Happy 2013!

  18. I decided to not go with resolutions this year, but Becca and I did create a business plan. I find it is really easy to let the little things sometimes keep the big things from getting done, so having. Printed reminder of our plan right where I can always see it is hugely helpful.

    I hope this is a really great year for you Karen!


  19. One phrase spoken by one of my English teachers in high school: Brevity it a virtue. I didn't understand what she meant at first, but it became clear over time. Choose the right words, not the most.

  20. Rhonda,
    Yes I think you are right about the resolutions. To me, it's a determination and refocusing. A fresh start, if you will! :)

    So you are an ICL grad too! They have great course, don't they? Hey, we all learn stuff along the way! :)

    Another ICL grad - we are having a reunion! :) Perhaps you remember Weedy Words? Yes, I agree, quit talking and just write!

    This is so true, good point! I enjoy meeting with wonderful writers through the blog and otherwise. :)

    Will look forward to that post! My husband and I were just talking about perseverance and how crucial it is to our Christian walk. :)

    Ah yes, I forgot you attended ICL too! This IS a reunion! :) I know, I think about that sheet often. Good stuff!

    I know, it's a great title, isn't it? :) And like you said, wisdom to live by, in writing and speaking too, I'm thinking.

    I'm with you. I'd say you'd do nothing but get better as a writer. Although I'd have to say you are a good one now! :)

    Well see, great minds think alike! LOL Always something to work on, isn't it? :)

    Ha - gardening, yes! There's always something to be done to improve in the garden or on the computer, isn't there? :) Happy 2013 to you too!

    Yes, I agree, keep the important words! Those are good goals for a new year. Happy 2013 to you too! :)

    Best wishes to you and Becca with your plan. I am sure it will be a success! :) It does help to have it down like you said.

    Oh, that's a good one! Glad you shared it. :) I like that, "Choose the right words, not the most." I may have to quote you here one of these days!


  21. Mine is to have a better sense of balance in my life. :)

  22. I am a multi-tasker by nature and think I can focus, write, and do at least five other things at the same time. No, that isn't possible, and I'll internalize that completely at some point! A wonderful nugget of advice I'm passing along: "Do one thing at a time with both hands."

    I strive to live by that whether I'm writing or doing anything else where I've regretted dividing my attention.

    Happy New Year, my friend!

  23. Lydia,
    Oh I hear you! Working on that one too. Maybe we should post about how it's going about midway through the year...:)

    I think the multi tasking thing can be a mom trait too, don't you? I heard a while back that sometimes when multi tasking you don't do anything well, and I'd have to agree in some instances. Love that nugget of advice, thanks for sharing it! :)


  24. Since I write devotionals, I've had to learn how to write tight. Sometimes a 150-word devotional is harder to write than a 1200-word article.

  25. Susan,
    This is true, shorter pieces present a different kind of challenge. But I know you are up for it! :)


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!