Tuesday, August 2, 2016

On the Hard Work of Writing (Erin)

One of my favorite quotes in Sophy Burnham's book For Writers Only is by Madeleine L'Engle, one of my favorite authors. She says:

I know writers who write only when inspiration comes. How would Isaac Stern play if he played the violin only when he felt like it? He would be lousy.

 L'Engle's quote gives me motivation to keep working on my books and not give up. Some days, when my brain is full and spinning a million thoughts around, it can be hard to sit down at my desk, look out my window, and write.  Amazingly enough, if I sit and look at the screen long enough, I will eventually start typing. Some of my best writing has come when I have had to push worries and concerns to the back of my mind and focus on Helen (my main character) and what she is doing.  

I recently finished editing my first manuscript for what seems like the hundredth time. Sometimes, I think it will never be good enough to send out. But, the practice of refining and revising according to my checklist and my English-teacher standards can't help but make me a better writer. Taking out my silly, overused dialogue phrases like "oh well" and "anyways" makes me pay attention the next time I write, resulting in cleaner, crisper conversations between characters. (I hope!)

 As I start this new school year, I am realizing I will have to be even more disciplined about my writing. My books are past the point where I can just sit down and write for a bit and see what happens. Book 1, Amber in the Mountains (working title) is at the stage where she has to be sent out to face suitors and see if she can survive their rejections, in hopes of finding "the one" who may publish or represent her. Book 2, Mica in the Wilderness, is at the half-way point. This means quite a lot of twists and turns for Helen, but it also means I need to be mindful of where the trilogy is headed. 

Not only are my books at unique stages, but I am starting a new job, where I will be entrusted with the task of helping ninth graders discover their own writing voices, as well as learn to love books and love reading. . . on top of being a wife and a mother! I am so blessed to be able to work half-time, and have a family who thoroughly supports my writing, as well as my new job. However, I hope Agatha Christie was right when she said:

The best time for planning a book is when you're doing the dishes.

When do you write best? What is the hardest part of writing for you? Leave a comment and let me know! 



  1. Thanks for this, Erin! I definitely need to get better about writing even when I don't feel like it. Currently if I'm not in the mood for writing I try to get other stuff done to free up writing time when inspiration strikes again. Good luck with your new job!

  2. Thanks Laurie! Getting things done so you have time to write later is a good strategy, too! Plus, it makes me feel less guilty for doing something else when I should be writing. : )


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