It’s the first week of 2018. What are your writing goals for this year? For myself, I have three main goals. One, finish a novel. Second, to organize my research and background materials for my two middle grade series. And finally, to improve my writing.
To this last end, I’m sharing with you this new and improved weekly writing exercise. If practice makes perfect, then let’s practice.
Welcome to 2018! To help spur you on to complete your writing goals this year, here is your first weekly writing exercise for the year:
Think about the last time you laughed so hard you cried. Who was with you? What provoked the outburst? Journal about how a good laugh can be just what you need.
Have fun with this. Savor the details and let the memory take you where it will.
Next, take it one step further. Use the imagery from your memory to write a poem, or write a laughter scene into your novel. Let your characters enjoy the same level of mirth you once did.
I am nearly always reading a book on the craft of writing. Currently, it is This Year You Write Your Novel, by Walter Mosley. Somehow that seems like an especially appropriate place to start at the beginning of a new year. Chapter One of this book is titled: The General Disciplines That Every Writing Needs. It opens with classic writing advice that, if you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard over and over again: to be a writer, you must write.
Mosley insists that you should write every day.
The first thing you have to know about writing is that is it something you must do every day.
As the basic principle of his book is to write a novel in a year’s time, this advice certainly makes sense. Though it may seem like tired, overused advice, it’s still important. The consistency of habit will allow your unconscious mind to continue to dwell on and dream about your story even while you’re not actively working on it. Habit and routine are the first keys to unlocking the muse.
So, go on. Write. Every day.
Q: What’s the big deal about passive voice?
A: Passive voice is weaker and less direct than active voice. Using active voice whenever possible will strengthen your fiction. From The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White:
The habitual use of the active voice, however, makes for forcible writing. … Many a tame sentence or description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as ‘there is’ or ‘could be heard.’
So here’s to a new year filled with successful writing! Please consider sharing your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask! Put it in the comments below, or send your question by email here: