Finding the Gumption to Start

The hardest part of writing is the first line—it’s just summoning up the gumption to start.

startSome days I sit for minutes that drag on and on, finger poised over the keyboard, unmoving. When nothing comes to me, I distract myself with e-mail or Instagram, talk to the dogs, or scroll through Facebook, anything to delay those first words.

 

According to popular writing advice, those first sentences are critical. Publishing blogs quote agents who advise writers to Continue reading “Finding the Gumption to Start”

SHOW YOUR WORK A Week Later

Okay, okay, so I kind of fell off the SHOW YOUR WORK daily bandwagon, but I have great excuses.

Excuse #1: I was getting tired of me, me, me.

When you have a new book coming out, you have to promote yourself. I always struggle with this, and that probably Continue reading “SHOW YOUR WORK A Week Later”

Anybody Can Write

As a writer, I hear from would-be writers all the time. They used to write, hope to write someday, had a teacher who told them they should be a writer, and a few who have been working on a novel for years.

The thing about writing is that anybody can do it.

I’m not just saying that. It’s true.

Anybody can write.

What they write, the quality of it, the success of it, well, that’s another story, but that’s not the point.

I believe Continue reading “Anybody Can Write”

Careful What You Wish For

This was the first year in five years that I didn’t have a new book released.

(And yes, it does feel kind of surreal to say something like that and yes, I am one lucky writer and no, I am certainly not complaining. My cup and saucer runneth over.)

2019 was a year of growth and pain and frustration for me in terms of writing, and maybe in terms of life, but that’s for another post.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t writing. Oh, I was writing. Working like a little devil. I had a book contract for 100 Dogs & Counting and the manuscript was due December 1 and will be published July 2020, so the work has only just begun.

I’ve kept mum about this year’s other big writing project because Continue reading “Careful What You Wish For”

All Writers Are Insecure

I think all writers are insecure.

Or maybe it’s just that all people are insecure.

None of us feel like we have it all together. Or live up to our own billing. We worry that Continue reading “All Writers Are Insecure”

The Real Flannery O’Connor

I’m fostering a little dog named Flannery O’Connor.

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She’s a quirky little pup from the mountains on the Virginia-Tennessee border, so the name fits.

I spent an inordinate amount of time creating Continue reading “The Real Flannery O’Connor”

I Am Completely Beside Myself

The last few months have been a whirlwind of launching Another Good Dog into the world. It’s been beyond my wildest imagination, surprising me again and again.

I’ve done enough TV now that I’m finally getting better at not blinking so much while talking and actually answering the question that was asked (as opposed to rambling on in questionable English while my mind is screaming, “OMG – I’m on TV!”).

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I’ve even made peace with the fact that Continue reading “I Am Completely Beside Myself”

You Really Don’t Need to Tell Them

My youngest son is a good writer.

In fact, all my kids are good writers. (so sayeth their proud mama.) But my youngest son invites me to edit his writing on occasion so I have more opportunity to read what he writes.

Like many high school students schooled in the art of the five-paragraph essay, he’s been trained to – tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

And he’s very good at essay – particularly argumentative essay (don’t know where he gets all that passion from….)

I was comfortable with that format when I was a teenager. It made writing a little less subjective. Clear objectives make me happy. I like to know what I’m aiming at.

5 paragraph xmas

The formulas that work in essay-writing don’t apply as well to fiction writing (or memoir).

It should be more like – Continue reading “You Really Don’t Need to Tell Them”

Lay Your Truth on the Page

Every writer loves promoting their books.

Not.

I’m deep in the midst of promoting my latest book and, to tell you the truth, this time around is WAY fun. That’s because I’m sharing almost every event with a dog or two.

Dogs make everything better.

Truth.

My last three books were novels – stories I made up sitting at my laptop on long afternoons and pre-dawn writing jags. I crafted characters and lived their lives- but only in my head.

The main character in my latest book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, is much more real…. Me.

So instead of dreaming up my drama, I lived it.

It’s easy to take risks when writing fiction, everyone knows you’re making it up, even if they suspect you’re actually writing about them (but changed the names and distinguishing features).

It’s another thing entirely to take risks while writing memoir. Memoir is nothing if not Continue reading “Lay Your Truth on the Page”

Give the Reader a Little Credit

“Assume they are wearing pants.”

pants

I’m not certain which famous author wrote that in an article I read in which rich and well-known writers were asked for their best piece of writing advice.

I’m also not certain how many times I’ve quoted it to creative writing students. It used to hang on a little sticky note on my computer monitor, but it’s probably lost amongst the dust bunnies behind my desk now, the sticky long since dried up.

I’m a wordy writer. If it weren’t for the countless editors who forced me to bend to their word count will, I probably never would have been published. I tend to over-tell you what’s happening, repeat myself, as it were.

When you’re writing a clever personal essay where voice is the most engaging feature, you can get away with extra words. But in fiction, readers have no patience for the writer who explains every turn of the doorknob and unfolding of a napkin.

‘Assume they are wearing pants’ means that there is much you can trust the reader to figure out on his or her own.

You don’t need to write that your character brushed his teeth or pulled on his pants or went to the potty or drove to work. You can trust your reader to figure out by the time your character ‘stepped out of the elevator on the sixth floor of the Bronson building ready to conquer the world or at least the part of the world that dealt with Fifteen-millimeter straws ’ that all of that has happened.

But maybe your character was late? You might need a few of those steps. ‘Fred brushed his teeth, as he drove, weaving in and out of his lane frustrated by the slowpoke in front of him mentally rehearsing his presentation which should have started ten minutes ago. In the elevator, he noticed his socks didn’t match and he had toothpaste on his tie.’

I still didn’t tell you that he put his pants on, but I’m pretty sure you know he’s wearing pants. Otherwise, everyone in the elevator would be staring at him, right?

Details are important, but the only details you need to include are the important ones.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

COMING AUGUST 7 2018 FROM Pegasus Books (available for preorder now:

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