Don’t you love eureka moments?

Those Ah-ha moments when the light bulb in your head flashes?

Me too! I love it when I figure out something.

After reading a post Do You Write Like a Reader by Glenn Mori over at  Flash Fiction Chronicles, I had just such an epiphany.

Eureka Idea bitmoji Jean m Cogdell

  • Ah-ha #1: Too many times I fail to remain in the skin of my characters. To look around and describe what is happening through their eyes. I often worry about overwriting. About my story looking as though a kid marked the paragraphs with a purple magic marker. One excellent writer who gets into the skin of her characters, without flowering it with purple prose, is Sheila Good over at Cow Pasture Chronicles. And I’m not biased just because she’s my sister.
  • Ah-ha #2: Like Mr. Mori, I read between the lines when I proof my document. Instead of seeing what’s written, I re-experience what I was thinking when I wrote it. We all must remember, we want our readers to get into the head of our characters. The readers can’t reside in ours.
  • Ah-ha #3: I write like I read. While that is not always a bad thing, for me it can be when I’m squeamish. For instance, if a scene in a book is uncomfortable or too stressful, I’ll skim read to get through the tough parts. But it’s not good to skim write. Our readers need to experience the high tension or drama of our characters. They need to feel the character’s pain and fear. Not assume.
  • Ah-ha #4: I need to make sure I’m communicating what I’m thinking.  Sometimes the meaning of the words written are misconstrued. After all, the reader can’t read my mind. So it’s important to write what you mean.

Writing Exercise: One paragraph, any subject or WIP (50 – 150 words)

Remain in the skin of a character. Use their senses. Look around and describe where the character is or what is happening through their eyes. Is he/she bored, afraid, cold, hot, happy, or sad? Are they with someone or alone? Sitting still or moving about? Well, you get the idea.

Share your paragraph in the comments section.

Here’s mine:

My hands shook like someone with palsy. I grasp the key and twisted. The grinding set my teeth on edge. Throw in the smell of burning oil and I was ready for full-on hair-pulling panic attack. Damn it to hell this wasn’t the place nor the time for a breakdown. Tears spilled down my cheek and I cussed the useless cell phone lying on the passenger seat. So much for the “the most reliable network plan.” A monster truck whizzed past, and I shrieked like an eight-year-old little girl when my knee slammed against the steering wheel. Things were going from bad to worse. In search of an umbrella, I dug under the seats, throwing empty wrappers and lost shoes to the back. Walk or wait, either way I was road kill.

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Do you practice as you learn?

Practice makes perfect, or so they say. 

Too bad I forgot to practice.

The last few weeks I’ve immersed myself in books, websites, and articles to help me improve my writing skills. Thanks to the many wonderful writers and bloggers in the web universe, I’ve learned a lot and passed it on here.

A problem occurred I hadn’t anticipated.

I’ve been so engrossed in “how to” reading and writing, I forgot to put into practice what I was reading. Now I find myself a bit rusty on the “doing.”

Ready to get back to my WIP, I sat at the keyboard and drew a blank. My main character refused to speak to me. Can’t blame her, I’d be mad too if someone ignored me for weeks.

In addition it seemed as if my brain was in overload with too many facts. As I began to write my mind roamed to the technical tips instead of staying with my scene. I struggled for quite a while before things began to flow again.

And that got me to thinking.

I don’t want to stop learning. After all my writing improves the more I learn about what I’m doing. But I need to strike a balance.

So for the next few days, I’m going to try something a little different here at Jean’s Writing. I’ll post a tip from a book, blog or article and then an exercise to practice the tip.

Some books make it easy and have exercise suggestion at the end of a chapter. Too bad I didn’t do all those exercises as I read. From here on out I will. And I’ll try to apply the exercises to a WIP. Who knows I might actually finish more projects that way.

So here’s the deal.

A paragraph, that’s all. Write a paragraph to work the writing muscles. To keep them Ginsu razor sharp and Iron Man strong.

I hope you’ll join me, in writing to exercise. All you have to do is write a few words each day. Just one paragraph. Then post it in the comment section. Hopefully, writing such a paragraph will be just the thing you need for a submission, or be the break-through for your novel.

This is Not a  Challenge.

Why? Because I understand life gets in the way and I don’t want to add pressure to anyone’s hectic schedule. Instead of challenge, I want this to be an encouragement, a tool to enhance the practice of writing. 

Here are the guidelines:
  1. Write one paragraph. Choose any subject, prompt or a WIP you want that incorporates the days writing tip. That shows us how you interpret the tip. 
  2. Keep the paragraph between 50 – 150 words. (Short and sweet)
  3. Post in comment section. (read and encourage those who participate)

That’s it, I want to keep it simple and fun. 

Hope you’ll join in and Tweet this post out to your friends. Don’t forget to follow me @jeancogdell on Twitter or jean.cogdell on Facebook!


Need to Find Inspiration?

Summer time and the living is easy.

Time to write and time to read.

If you need inspiration? I’ve got a couple of ideas.

First sign up for some writing prompts.

You’ll find everything from one word, multiple words, to pictures. Some will arrive in you inbox daily, weekly or quarterly.

You can choose to link up with other bloggers using the prompt or you can –

Polish and enter your masterpiece in a contest.

Here are a few I found.

Do you have a favorite writing prompt that inspires you?

How about contests or call for submissions? Any you think I’d like to hear about?

Let me and the other writers know in the comments section. Much obliged.

Remember to pass this on to your Facebook and Twitter pals.
If you’re not already, please follow me @jeancogdell on Twitter or jean.cogdell on Facebook!