Pink Heart Society columnist, AlTonya Washington, is talking about the things that she finds most beneficial for her...
I’m often asked to offer advice to aspiring authors or to share tricks of the trade with other colleagues. While many tips or tricks come to mind, there are two that have been especially beneficial (and enjoyable) for me.
Sleep: (Talk about joy!) There was a time that I could burn the candle at both ends and up the middle for weeks on end before I even noticed that I needed the fuel that sleep provides. Not only was that way of living unhealthy, but I’m not sure that I was producing my best work in those early days when the only one clamoring for the next novel was me. Over the last several years however, I see how greatly I and my work benefit when I listen to my body and recognize that sleep is what I need.
Of course there are nights when I want to keep on pushing until the wee hours and I find that my trusty Tazo Awake Tea gets me through. Still, I’m at my most alert, refreshed and productive after several trusty hours of sleep. Revisions are crisper-the writing is more engaging. I’m apt to catch trouble spots in the work faster. I find this to be true even after I’ve napped for only a few hours. Hopefully, the benefits of sleep (over caffeine) isn’t some new concept for those of you reading this, but sometimes the most obvious things bear repeating.
Reading: (More joy!) So again, sometimes the most obvious things bear repeating and I just can’t stress this enough. One thing that irks me is when an author (myself included) uses a word to death- I mean they use it so often one can usually predict when it’ll show up in a sentence. This is usually when the word ‘thesaurus’ comes to mind. A good editor is a godsend as well and I thank my Harlequin editors for bringing it to my attention when I do this. I don’t think they have to call me on it too much if I do say so myselfJ.
Still; and this is something I stress to author friends and other aspiring authors alike, reading is key. Besides being enjoyable as heck, it not only builds your vocab but it sparks new ways of saying the same thing-especially when you read outside your ‘comfort zone’. I’m often amazed by how using new phrases, new words, even new word combinations can just liven up a particular passage especially when the passage requires a bit more narration than dialogue.
I could go on a lot longer and have for those who have made the mistake of asking me for an opinion. Seriously though; if you’re experiencing dry spells in your work or you just sense that something’s missing from your writing, give into that exhaustion and sleep a little. Or grab something to read; if for no other reason than, to remind you why you started this writing thing in the first place.
We'd love to hear what it is that you need to keep you writing; join the discussion with AlTonya in the comments!
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