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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Writing Tip: Take The Plunge

Swim season finally started over here yesterday, and my eldest was not too thrilled about it. And quite frankly, I had a hard time showing my enthusiasm for this. I know. Bad mom. But we're talking three nights of practice a week, 1 1/2 hours long. 1 1/2 hours in a stuffy, humid indoor pool with a four-year-old and six-year-old who want to be anywhere but there.

But this time commitment really translates into 2 1/2 hours for one night of swim practice when you factor in the commute time and changing time. And this doesn't count the three plus hour weekly swim meets that start in December. Not only is this a big commitment on my daughter's part, it's also a huge family commitment. Four days...

So when nine-year-old expressed doubt about the team over the past week, I was a bit thrown off. Sure, I'd love to have the free time for other things, but I also didn't want to teach my child that she can quit whenever she feels like it. Also, I think it's important that girls have a sport they enjoy so they can keep active, fit, confident, disciplined and out of trouble. And if they are on a sports team, even better. Hopefully, they'll be too tired out to cause any trouble. Hopefully.

The problem was solved when nine-year-old found out some new friends were going to be on this Winter League. Suddenly, my child looked forward to those practices because she knew they would be fun. So last night, nine-year-old was raring to go, pushing me to get moving and out the door since she didn't want to be late. Somehow, I found that rather amusing.

I thought about this some more, and it just hit me on the side of my head...sometimes you need change to make a situation better. I know. Kind of a duh! moment, but seriously, doesn't it make some sense?

I've had a few manuscripts where I was loathe to change much of anything, and they really aren't that good. But the couple I've changed, I mean really changed, thanks to my critique group...from POV, to character personalities, to plot...these manuscripts are the ones I've found to be exciting and hopeful.

And if I think about the times I've had writer's block, and then out of frustration wrote something unexpected for the character, new life was brought onto the pages. Maybe not always good, but at least it got me thinking again.

What I offer you today is simply this: Take the plunge. Make some changes. Actually...before you make the changes, make a copy to go back to, just in case. But what's the worse that can happen? You waste a little time and decide it wasn't worth it. Though I have a feeling, most likely, you'll be thrilled with the new prospect of all the possibilities out there. Go ahead. Take the plunge.

10 comments:

gail said...

You're a better person than I. I'm too lazy to let my kids join organized sports.

This is good to think about. I'll try your method and see if it'll break me free from my week long battle with writer's block. (fingers crossed)

daphne grab said...

i agree with you about sports being great for girls (my three year old is athletic and i'm hoping it just keeps growing as she grows up) and i also agree that sometimes you have to make change, even when it means ripping apart scenes and rebuilding. it's hard but sometimes the only way to move forward.

Christine M said...

Make drastic changes - huh? Maybe this will work for me since I'm a bit stymied by part 3 of my current WIP.

Liz in Ink said...

This is so funny, Vivian. I blogged today about sports and kids and effort and quitting and such...
We're on some sort of wavelength...

Callipygia said...

In school, we were told to turn our drawings upside down to critique them. This really helped to see the "flaws" from a different vantage point.

m. thompson said...

Take the plunge. I like that.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

That can be a hard call, deciding when it's wise to push ahead and when it's wise to quit. I wanted to quit ballet my first year because my ballet teacher was so strict she made me cry. My mom had me promise to focus on ballet for a month and then if I still wanted to quit after that month, I could. I danced for 7 more years.

Mike said...

Right on target! Shaking things up can be a great starting point. I always go back to what one of my professors said about writing copy for advertising:

"For every great piece of writing, you should have 6 more in the trash can."

Sometimes what you're looking for doesn't hit you until after you improve on it and toss the old version out.

Thanks for the insight...
-Mike

Nowheymama said...

Excellent, encouraging post! And good grief, am I behind on reading your blog!

Robin Brande said...

Great post, HWM! I totally agree--try some changes to jump start the whole thing again, but definitely keep a copy of the original. You never know what piece you're going to wish you hadn't just erased.

Love the whole "take the plunge" attitude. That'll get you (and all of us) far.