Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stretching Out

As January closes, I look back on a blur of a month. Maybe it was all the snow and ice that distorted my vision, but I can't believe we've had a month of days already this year. On some of those days, I ran some miles and established a nice — albeit tenuous — foundation in my exercise plan for the year. In a similar fashion, I've been building up my freelance writing "miles." But before I get too far on my running or my writing, I need to pause and make sure I'm not about to injure myself.

To me, writing and running are a lot alike: Once you know how to do them, you can pick them back up without too much difficulty, but to get the most out of them you need to keep doing them consistently. That's how you stay in shape. When it comes to my legs, now that I've got a simple base down, I'll make sure that I stretch out my muscles, keep proper form. I'm concerned more about the long haul than reaching a random goal. In the same manner, I'm approaching my freelance — and my novel writing — by ensuring that I keep my tools (interviewing skills, grammar, language, voice) all sharp and ready for action.

Sometimes just a quick blog post is enough for me to feel I'm ready to bear down on finishing a profile or to get my mind thinking of questions to ask.

What do you do to keep your writing tools sharp?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Year, New Challenges, New Inspirations

Not wanting to rehash the same old "resolution/goal" post, I found what I didn't know I was looking for in the blog of another aspiring author. The blog is Tikiman1962, which I only saw because I follow N.M. Kelby on Facebook. I don't know the guy who writes Tikiman. (Is he familiar with Martel's Tiki bar at the Jersey Shore? Or does "tiki" mean something else for this guy?) But I already feel a bit of kinship with him. He writes, he's done NaNoWriMo for several years, he's married and appreciates the help his wife can provide him in his writing. And he appears to speak with his own voice on his blog.

Good qualities all.

His 2010 wrap-up piece made me think about what I accomplished in the year that's already packed in a Hefty bag and lying on the curbside. I posted 30 items on The Elephant's Bookshelf in 2010 — more than some years, fewer than others. A couple were book reviews by writing friends. Some were very short pieces that I slapped together on the fly. What I really loved about the majority of them, however, is that they seemed to find an audience. I thank all of you who commented and hope I inspire you to do so in 2011.

To be sure, the largest contingent of commenters came from the community of writers I belong to at AgentQuery Connect, which I think is the most honest, critical, and supportive writers' site on the Web — at least those I'm familiar with. I also say thank you to Caroline Hagood, whose witty, wonderful blog Culture Sandwich has been a joyful discovery for me. Caroline shared a book review on the Bookshelf, and I wrote a blog post in the Sandwich. In between, we both seemed to enjoy what the other was writing. I call that a great example of how the Internet can expand your horizons and help you develop opportunities. Plus, creating friendships with other writers always strikes me as good karma.

If the opening days of 2011 are any indication, the new year is replete with such opportunities, too. So, whether you're looking forward or peeking in your rearview mirror, I wish good luck to my fellow writers as we all look to typing, scribbling, or scratching out word after word after word.