Monday, January 10, 2011

This Mama's Writing Habits

During an over-excited attempt to get my wip out of my head onto paper (10,000 words in a weekend), I  noticed some habits adding to my wrestling match towards success.
It makes me laugh to see my same habits as a writer, appear in my other passion in life, motherhood.
The Mom: I can talk myself blue in the face as I reason with my little 8 year old lawyer when he is in trouble, and threaten him with consequences. I feel like a poorly educated psychologist sometimes. Instead of the long debate, I could just show him my stance- give him his consequence. I am the grown-up...right?
The Writer: The poorly educated psychologist creeps into my writing when I overly explain my character's motives. Instead, I could just show it in an active way. When I dissect their motive and their many possible thoughts, I find my head spin!
The Mom: “Why do you ALWAYS...”, “I have never...” and my most ashamed saying of all, “Gosh Almighty!”( Seriously how is that not the same as what it implies??)
 My effectiveness goes out the window...and worse off, my words get in the way of  my purpose as their mother, to let God's light shine through! I will say though, there are some things worth repeating... "Do unto others," "Keep your hands to yourself", "Don't sit on your brother's head..."
The Writer: 
My, my, I use the same sentence structure, adverbs (dun-dun-duuunn), and boring verbs an AWFUL lot! My writing's effectiveness decreases with one too many "howevers".
 Some words that give me fits are:
Just, really, seemed, surely, often...
Just as I thought it seemed necessary, my poor writing surely proved to hinder me, and I often found myself editing instead of really getting ahead in my wip.
Okay, for my own reputation...I never (ha) get this bad, but sometimes I find “just” at the beginning of too many sentences, I use “really” to emphasize a little too often, and “seemed” creeps its way in, especially when I write in first person and have to describe her view of other characters.
Now, I am not saying that all these things are necessarily bad, but if they aren't noticed by me, the writer, and I allow them to flood my story, the main theme and most importantly, the inspiration God gave me in the first place, would be diluted.
My boys and me...The crazy sunglass styles...what was I thinking?
And as a mother, if I also don't choose my words carefully, and limit my psycho-babble, I lose my children's respect and ultimately give them a poor impression of the God I am suppose to be representing in their lives!
Do you have any writing habits that are a constant challenge as you move forward in your wip?


Julia M. Reffner said...

For sure I'm guilty of telling my characters' motives.

PROCRASTINATION...oh boy, that's what I can sometimes struggle with in both parenting and my writing. In parenting, its with discipline at times. Allowing children to continue in bad behavior for too long before putting a consequence into place. This character flaw most definitely comes out in my writing, too. In 2011 I plan to win the battle with procrastination, with a lot of help from God.

Sarah Forgrave said...

LOL, love this post, Angie! I'm addicted to the word "just" too. When I'm in edit mode, I do a search for it and banish as many of them as I can.

Keli Gwyn said...

Paying attention to our word choices, as both a mother and a writer, is important.

I had a contest judge point out one of my weasel words: so. For some reason, I have a love affair with it. There are others, too, and during my self-edits I seek to remove as many of them as possible, making my story soooo much better. =)

Pepper said...

What a fun post! And I can SOOO relate! REally. Truly. (snicker)
To the mom comments and the writer ones.
My dad used to get frustrated with me because I'd go on and on about something instead of getting to the point. He say, "Say what you mean and mean what you say."
But flowery words are so much more fun! :-) Until I have to edit out 40% of my manuscript.

And funny things you say as a mom? Here's one from my house "Phoebe, get your finger out of your brother's nose."
Who'd have thought?!?

Pepper - disguised as Anne SHirley for the very fun Seekerville post today

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Oh boy, this post is great! Yep, I have writing habits that I'm trying hard to break. I overuse "just" for sure. In fact, I have a whole list of words I tend to overuse and I have to go through and replace them every time I finish a manuscript.

Casey said...

I have noticed lately that I write in choppy sentences. Maybe why I got comments from judges saying I sounded like stylistic poetry?? But anyway, I get too verbose in my emails or comments or maybe I need to switch a little bit and try to even out both scores... good post Angie and personally like the sunglasses! ;)

Casey-incognito as Faith O'Connor for a very fun Seekerville post today. :)

Kav said...

LOL. Too funny...but true. I fear I tell, then show and tell again just to make sure that everybody is on the same page! LOL.

Tracy Krauss said...

Cute post. I'm sure we all bring those idiosyncrasies into our writing. I find it helps to distance myself from a WIP for awhile. When I come back to it with fresh eyes all those issues jump out at me.

Angie Dicken said...

I definitely agree, Tracy...I see so much clearer when I step away for a bit. And yes, Keli, "so" is another one of my little habits!
You gals are too cute with your aliases today for Seekerville! Love It!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Love how you tied these together. I'd say that I'm inconsistent w/ my writing, but that's more of me as a parent. Oi!

Love your pic. So cool to see us when we take our writer hats on and put our mommy ones on. I guess most of us wear both at once though so I'm not sure what I just wrote made any sense at all.
~ Wendy

Angie Dicken said...

Yes Wendy! I must say that my inconsistency crops up more as a mother than a writer! Yikes!
But if it weren't for the mom I am, I wouldn't have all the great emotional material to include in my writing!! :)