When Writing: Learn to Draw the Hands

When I was little I loved to draw, but I was never very good at drawing realistic-looking stuff. I enjoyed drawing people (though they all looked like really bad cartoon drawings), but I hated drawing hands. I wasn’t any good at it. So, the result was a mass of pictures with the figure conveniently hiding his or her hands behind their backs. There, I thought. If I just hide them, I don’t have to worry about them. Voila!

What I didn’t realize, is that seriously restricted the range of what I could draw. Perhaps if I had been as much of an art-fart as I am a word-nerd, I would’ve taken the time, did the work, and practiced practiced practiced, until I got it right eventually. But instead, I chose to fine-tune my writing skills, which I am still doing, every single day.

So, what does learning to draw the hands have to do with writing?

This is a recent lesson I’ve learned during the process of rewriting my once-finished-but-now-a-WIP-again-second novel, South. After finishing the story in three months, revising for a month and querying agent after agent with no real luck, I found a few beta readers. With their help, I was able to see some areas in my work that were lacking. I was able to see a lot of areas where I had “hidden the hands” because I didn’t want to do the work. I didn’t realize it at the time, but thank goodness I see it now.

Here’s an example:

One of my characters is a hacker-type guy. In the first version of my novel, his character was too ambiguous. Partly, because I was unsure through the entire writing of what exactly I wanted to do with him. Never once did I do a Google search of the sort I performed yesterday. I Googled “hacker slang,” a simple, no-brainer search that opened up a whole new bag of cheerios. Because I realized he was so complex a character that I opted to be vague in some areas where I should’ve elaborated, all for the sake of not doing the work/research, and thereby not really getting to know my character. No wonder I didn’t know what to do with him. No wonder he was too ambiguous and a little “flat.” He wasn’t real; I didn’t know him. Once I began to see who he was, he became a real person—not a character—to me, and he showed me which direction he wanted to go in the story, which is becoming something only vaguely resembling the first one.

Another example is a serious action scene involving death. The way I had “hidden the hands” before, was to kind of skim over/rush through that scene, leaving out the gory, emotional details. Why in the heck would I do that? That’s the juicy stuff! But the answer is, I didn’t realize I was doing it. Some things we do as writers, we don’t even notice until someone else points it out to us. That’s why being open to constructive criticism is so important, as well as finding a few good beta readers to swap stories and tidbits with.

The details are what make the story/character become real, if done right. Yes, there is such a thing as too much detail, but if there isn’t enough where there should be, the reader won’t become grounded in your story, and there is a greater than zero chance they will be highly underwhelmed and not even finish it. And that’s not good. Hands are important; they hold, hug, touch, tickle, rip, break, punch, aim, and shoot . . . . Hands can make the story. Lack of hands can break the story.

Learn to draw the hands. Don’t rush. Do the work. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time, writerly peeps . . . .

Write on 🙂

Oh, and if you haven’t yet, check out “50 Awesome Things Only Writers Would Understand” HERE

11 Lame Excuses for Not Writing (And Why They’re Lame)

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There’s really no good reason why you can’t devote a little time every day to your writing (or something else you love). I hear a lot of excuses; “I can’t write because blah blah and blah,” and I’m here to tell you to flip your excuse-maker to its “off” position. If you love it, do it. Every. Single. Day. No matter what.

Here are some of the most common lame excuses for not writing as much as you could be:

11. Nobody wants to read my stuff.

Write for yourself first. Once you start to write for you first, and focus on the things that tickle your writer fancy and that get those writer juices flowing, writing becomes much more fulfilling and enjoyable to you. A byproduct of that is that your writing is better, which makes people wanna read it. If you are too concerned with what others want to read—which, btw, fluctuates daily—then you will develop a sort of resentment attached to your writing that will make it less than enjoyable. Of course, there is a way to consider what others might want to read while staying true to what you want to write. Find common ground.

10. I don’t know how to type.

“And on the eighth day, God created pencil and paper . . . .”

I know it’s ancient, but there is such a thing as actually, you know, writing. I have a friend who writes like this and he’s always pumped about writing. I think he just finished a novel (Hi Ronald!) And I can’t technically type. I dropped way too much acid during computer lit in eighth grade when everyone else was learning how to type. You just rollll with it, and do your best. (You can always learn how to type by taking a class at your local community college.)

10. B. But—but my hand hurts when I write.

You’re right, maybe you shouldn’t write. Maybe you should join the preschool program down the street and LEARN HOW NOT TO WHINE ABOUT STUFF LIKE A LAME-O. Learn some hand exercises and toughen up, soldier!

9. I’m a horribul spellur and I have no clue how, to use; punctuat!on. Like. At all.

One word: Editor. If you write fiction (and even a lot of non-fiction), you are a storyteller who writes. You don’t have to be an amazing speller who has never spliced a comma in her life in order to tell an amazing story. Write now, fix later. Or get an editor. They live for comma splices and whatnot.

8. I’m not inspired.

“Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.”-Chuck Close

7. I have writer’s block.

There are 5,000,000,000,000 writer’s prompts online. I promise you’ll find something to open the flood gates if you scroll through some of these. But, if they don’t work…..(Stay tuned; “A Million Ways to Eradicate Writer’s Block Entirely” coming soon, and then I will post the link here.)

6. But my kids…

*screams in your ear like Tarzan and smashes a Lemon Meringue Pie in your face*

Feel that? It’s the lemony eye-sting of I’m-a-single-mom-of-four-and-I-wrote-three-novels-last-year-so-I-don’t-want-to-hear-that-shizzzznit

5. I can’t find an agent/publisher

Um, last time I checked, it was the writer who wrote books, not the agent/publisher. Meaning, having an agent/publisher has absolutely NADA to do with you writing.

4. I suck.

Well, who knows . . . maybe you do. But maybe it’s just that you need to keep writing so you can keep growing as a writer. Maybe you haven’t entirely blossomed yet as a writer. Maybe that’s why you haven’t finished that novel yet. Maybe that’s why you haven’t landed that agent yet. Maybe that’s why you needs ta keep on a writin’.

3. I have a day job.

Write in the evenings. Sleep is overrated. I get five and a half hours of sleep a night and I’m just fine.

*stares at you like a brain-hungry zombie* *twitches*

2. He/she/they say(s) I suck, or that I shouldn’t write because of X, Y, or Z.

Don’t let trolls, haters, and micromanagers tell you what the hell to do with your life, or what you are and are not good at. Others don’t live your life, you do. Really, what do they know about that spiny little monster poking at your guts, whispering sweet threats of demise if you don’t write? He’s the one you should be listening to. Nice spiny monster . . . *tries to pet him and almost loses hand*

Okay, maybe not.

And the number one lame excuse for not writing: (Cue drum roll)

1. Not enough time.

*holds another pie in ready position* *stares you down with evil eye*

You MAKE time for what you love. If you don’t “have time” to write, it’s because you aren’t MAKING time. And if you aren’t making time, maybe you don’t love writing enough. Or maybe you are silencing the inner writer too much because you are listening to all those other lame excuses for not writing. (Click HERE for 13 Ways to Make More Time to Write)

So, to sum up, stop it with all the lame excuses. You have a story to tell. Or info to lay (lie?) out in an understandable and interesting manner on the mating habits of the Northern Flying Squirrel. You are a writer. You are a storyteller. You are a badass. So act like it, will you?

OH, and if you are needing to remember why it is that you needs ta get a writin’,

check out, “50 Awesome Moments Only Writers Would Understand

Until next time, writer peeps 😉

Write on!

50 Awesome Moments Only Writers Would Understand

The world of the writer is a unique one. The way we view and experience life is definitely different from how non-writers do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Below are fifty awesome moments most writers have or will experience in their lifetime.

50. That awesome writer moment when you type “The End.”

49. That awesome writer moment when you reread something you just wrote and it’s like reading something somebody else wrote, and you wonder where the hell it came from.

48. That thankful writer moment when you get the kids to bed and you FINALLY get to sit your ass down and write.

47. That sad writer moment when you discover that a character you’ve grown to really like/love . . . has to die.

46. That awesome writer moment when you realize that what you are writing is bigger than you, is coming from some place beyond you, and you are but a vestibule for the creative workings of the Universe to materialize. . . . When that Universal truth comes to you as a gift to be shared through your talent, humbly, a light for others to see themselves and the world by.

45. That moment when you realize you need to kill your darlings. (See above)

44. When you realize you are narrating your life in third person again.

43. That awesome writer moment when you’re writing a creepy scene and you keep looking over your shoulder, making sure no one’s behind you. In your own house. In daylight.

42. That moment when an idea to do something perfectly horrible to your characters creeps up on you and makes you smile, evilly.

41. When you are losing an argument so you start correcting their grammar.

40. When your back is killing you, your eyes are buggin’, your legs have lost all their sensation, your forearms, wrists, and elbows are achy and sore, but still you write on like the badass word-slinger that you are.

39. That awkward writer moment when you start talking to a non-reader/writer passionately about your book and they pretend like they care but it’s obvious they are more interested in the activities of a nearby Porta Potty than your book.

38. That Halleluiah! writer moment when you’ve been querying agents/publishers for eons, and you finally get that “yes.”

37. When you get a brilliant idea in the shower and you hop out with soap still on your body to scribble it down on a paper plate with a crayon (or something like that 😉 )

36. When you’re on a road trip and you put on your headphones and listen to inspiring music while working out plot details in your head the whole way.

35. That awesome writer moment when you have to pull over to write something down.

34. That moment when the best thing you ever wrote was born on a napkin.

33. That moment when your “emergency fire rescue” box in your house is too full of your writing stuff to fit any family photos, baby keepsakes, important paperwork, etc.

32. When you are constantly catching typos in places they shouldn’t be; cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, text books, signs, and your kid’s printed homework pages . . . . and you make a big deal out of it. And no one else cares.

31. When one kind comment or note of encouragement from a reader/fellow writer can pull you out of that mucky bog of motivation-less self-pity and disenchantment.

30. That sweet moment when someone you know and love reads your book and you feel closer to them.

29. When you have a child within the age bracket of your YA book. (Yes! Priceless input!)

28. When that child doesn’t want to read your book because it doesn’t have vampires in it. (Seriously?)

27. When you read a really awesome book and you have to read it again so you can pick it apart and see exactly how the author made it so freakin’ awesome.

26. When you’re talking with another writer in front of a non-writer and they are awkwardly standing there like, “huh?”

25. That inspiring moment when a big storm comes and you start plotting end of the world weather scenarios and storylines in your head.

24. That awkward moment when you meet someone who reminds you of one of your characters and you’re like, “WTF?”

23. When that plot kink works itself out in a dream, after stressing all day/week/month about it.

22. When you write your first novel and are in love with it . . . .

21. When you look at your first novel a year later and realize what a POS it is . . . .

20. When you see how necessary it was that your first novel be a POS, because you learned so much in the process of writing it.

19. That day you realize you don’t have to wait for an agent or publisher to wave the magic wand of “good enough” over you and your words, and you decide to brave the deep waters of self-publishing . . . and you learn how to swim in them. And you become a self-publishing guru, teetering daringly on the edge of absolute badass.

18. When you would rather write than sleep.

17. When your characters tell you exactly what they want you to do next . . . or else.

16. When you’re having an “off” day, and someone gives you unwarranted constructive criticism . . . and you want to tell them what they can do with their unwarranted constructive criticism.

15. When you write drunk and think it’s the best thing you ever wrote . . . .

14. That moment when you look at your drunken mumbo jumbo the next day.

13. When you have more books on your kindle than your local public library has on its shelves.

12. That amazing moment when what you are writing makes you laugh . . . . or cry.

11. That awkward moment when seeing an old typewriter is an aphrodisiac.

10. When you develop a crush on a fictional character . . . . (Hey, he’s eighteen, it’s legal, right?)

9. That moment when a blog post you wrote goes “viral.”

8. That awesome moment when you finish that rewrite. It was scary to tackle at first, but you wrangled that bull and showed it who the heck was boss! Sha-BAM! DONE!! And so much awesomer now!

7. That ancient writer memory of always having ink-stained hands.

6. When you have an elevator-pitch moment with a chance-encounter, and you totally forget what your book is about, how to speak, and that you are even an author in the first place.

5. When you base a character on someone that pisses you off . . . and they just have to die. (hehehe)

4. When you take your shitty day out on your characters . . . and it works . . . and it’s awesome.

3. When you finally meet that special person who “gets” you, and appreciates your word-nerdiness in all its glory.

2. When you light your keyboard on fire because you’re on a roll and the thoughts are flowing and the story has begun writing itself and you can barely keep up.

1. The realization that you cannot not write, even if you are not getting paid enough, or at all; because it is who you are. It is your gift, your passion, your light to shine into the world. It is your spark in the dark.

Now go! Live the moments and be great.

And as always,

Write on ❤


To check out reviews or one-click my mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror, “The Treemakers,” click >HERE<