I struggle to set up each new chapter in my novel. I want to jump right into the dialog and action and keep the story moving along. While writing the first installment of Valley of the Bees, I did just that. I wrote the story in the throes of momentum and didn’t slow down for anything as uninteresting as setting up my chapters properly. When all was said and done, my story came out to around 25,000 words and was in desperate need of transitional material between chapters. Imagine how I felt when I realized that I was going to have to sit down and write all of that boring stuff at once.
I am a strong believer in positive reinforcement. I have even talked about it here before in relation to writing. I have often wondered how I could use positive reinforcement to become a more productive writer. So, I just about jumped off the couch a few minutes ago when I stumbled upon a scientific explanation for writer’s procrastination in a book I’m reading titled, Don’t Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training, by Karen Pryor.
The following excerpt describes a “phenomenon that occurs on very long [reinforcement] schedules: slow starts.” According to Pryor, a subject “tends to “put off” starting for longer periods as the schedule of reinforcement gets longer.”
This is sometimes called delayed start of a long-duration behavior, and it’s a very familiar aspect of human life. On any long task, from doing the income taxes to cleaning out the garage, one can think of endless reasons for not starting now. Writing, even sometimes just the writing of a letter, is a long-duration behavior. Once it gets started, things usually roll along fairly well, but, oh! it’s so hard to make oneself sit down and begin.
This week in my Composition I class, we are continuing our journey through the steps of the writing process. Last week, we discussed prewriting and choosing a thesis. I asked my students to do a freewrite in which they considered whether pride is a virtue or a vice. Then we worked together to come up with a thesis statement for an essay they will write on the topic of pride.
Today we are moving on to the next two steps in the writing process, which are (according to our textbook) “Supporting the thesis with evidence” and “Organizing the evidence.” We will continue to generate raw material for our pride essay as we work through each step. So, this week’s (and probably next week’s as well) writing prompt will be a continuation of the prompt I gave you last week. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: Your proudest moment”→
Hello, all. It’s week two of my Tuesday afternoon English Composition I course. I have promised my students that we would be doing a lot of writing in class this semester, which in turn means I need to come up with some writing prompts for them. Since I’ll be generating writing prompts each week anyway, I figured I may as well share these prompts with you!
Today we begin our discussion on the steps of the writing process by covering prewriting and thesis statements. The plan is to have my students write one essay, step-by-step, over the next couple of weeks while we learn about the steps of the writing process.
This semester, I am teaching one section of English Composition I at my local technical college. This is not a course I particularly care to teach. The first semester I taught it was a disaster. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I definitely didn’t know the material well enough to teach it. It was a horrible experience for everyone involved. This semester, I finally feel like I kinda know what I am doing. And it’s having a positive impact on my writing.
Feedback is so depressing because it always means more work. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how good you are, every round of feedback will point out *something* that needs more work.
Unfortunately, I am not yet at the point where I can decide to call it finished and just be done with it. I have yet to finish my complete first draft, so there will be a lot more revisions to come before the work is done. Continue reading “Facing the fiery hells of feedback”→
A cousin-friend recently sent me the first page of a novel she’s writing and asked me if I thought it was any good. She writes some beautiful prose, but I thought she was a little too worried about the “goodness” of her novel at this stage in the writing process. So, I gave her the following advice:
I’ll tell you what I recommend (and a lot of famous published authors seem to agree): Just sit down and mind-dump your story without thinking about whether it’s any good. Stephen King wrote a really great memoir on writing, where he talks about how you should never spend more than a season (3 months) writing a rough draft. Your rough draft will probably seem like garbage, but that’s how it is for everyone (even Stephen King). Once you have your story dumped out on the page, then you can go back and start revising it to make it “good.” Continue reading “You should write your novel this summer”→
I can’t seem to write without reading. And when I do read, I always end up writing in the same genre I’ve been reading. When I read a lot of poetry, I find myself writing a lot of poetry. If I’ve read a couple of good YA novels in a row, my brain wants to write a YA novel. So, it was no surprise that an idea for a fantasy novel popped into my head right as I was finishing Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind a couple of weeks ago.
I was out for my almost-daily walk one morning when a couple of interesting characters began to have a conversation in my head. Normally when this happens, I reach for a pen and paper (or my laptop) and rush to capture these conversations word-for-word. What I usually end up with is a small bit of compelling dialogue that goes absolutely nowhere. Continue reading “Reading and writing a new project”→