Avoidance Techniques from a Master (Week 4 of my Be-a-Better-Writer Reading Program)

Reading multiple writing books at once has my head spinning. This past week, while distracted by my BIG NEWS, I had a hard time making myself sit down and follow my reading plan for becoming a better writer. I do my assigned reading in the evening, but each night I found a reason not to read. Instead, I spent a lot of time with my foster puppies…..


And I caught up on The Crown and sorted my Netflix que and finished reading Dogged Pursuit by Robert Rodi (hilarious) 6480008 and The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (exquisite). 15705011Next, instead of doing my assigned reading I made Curry-Coconut meatballs (omg, look for the recipe in my next newsletter!) and served it over Coconut Rice (my invented version, also going in the newsletter), along with maybe more wine than necessary which of course, led to more chocolate than was necessary and then an early bedtime.

Finally, I began bribing myself, the same way I do on a long run. Just read until that next section break (just run until that next telephone pole…).

Sometimes I read entire pages, while simultaneously thinking about how I should have my hair cut or whether I should start my pepper seeds yet.

Like so many projects, I start going great guns and then my best intentions get pushed aside in favor of more pressing needs. So, I’m recommitting right now. Right here. On this blog. Where you can all hold my feet to the fire (or eyeballs to the page). Get ‘er done.

Of the very little reading I did this week, here’s the best stuff:

From Writer’s Guide to Persistence:

“Your truth may be different from someone else’s, so you open yourself to arguments, different opinions, and criticism…..Your job is to stand in your truth with courage. The haters and naysayers can write their own stories.”

These words resonated for me. They reminded me of when I wrote a little column for the paper and mean people readers would write nasty comments on the online version, as if they knew me, as if it was their right to pass judgment on the quality of my brain. There’s at least one nasty review on Amazon where the reviewer actually looked up my alma mater (she doesn’t say which one) and then based on that school’s religious affiliation presumed to judge my motives for writing my novel. (As if I had a motive beyond getting published and making a million dollars. Only one of those two things has happened.)

And from The Art of Memoir:

If you trust the truth enough to keep unveiling yourself on the page – no matter how shameful those revelations may at first seem – the book will naturally structure itself to maximize what you’re best at. You’re best at it because it sits at the core of your passions.

I’m working up the nerve to pull out a memoir I wrote about five years ago when I was deep in the throes of forcing my will on my contrary and determined daughter who thought she made the better parent than me, while at the same time trying to break a difficult, stubborn, precocious quarter horse. At the time, I was probably too close to the subject. I didn’t want to admit all the ways I was failing, all the shameful things I was thinking and doing, so I prettied it up a bit for the page. Going back will hurt, but it might be necessary. I might be ready to write about it honestly this time. Mary Karr’s book is helping me get brave.

And here’s my favorite instruction of the week, again from Jordan Rosenfeld in the Writer’s Guide to Persistence:

You don’t need to follow all the wisdom you encounter, only that which actually makes you wiser.

Smart woman. Trying to keep that in mind as I press on with my reading.

What are you reading? Is it anything that’s making you wiser?



p.s. If you’d like to sign up for my (very) occasional newsletter—the one which will have the fabulous recipe for curry-coconut meatballs—click here.

If you’re a dog person and want to read my other blog about fostering rescue dogs, click here.

Information and links to all my blogs and books and maybe more than you actually want to know can be found at CaraWrites.com.

Thanks for reading!



Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at CaraWrites.com.

2 thoughts on “Avoidance Techniques from a Master (Week 4 of my Be-a-Better-Writer Reading Program)”

  1. Great post! And congratulations on signing with Carly Watters! She’s one of my dream agents. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about honesty in writing, particularly in memoir. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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