Wednesday, March 04, 2015

I Celebrate National Grammar Day

You read that right—happy National Grammar Day! It's a thing.

No really—it's for real. It was founded in 2008 by the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (also a real thing), and is hosted by Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty. I shall be celebrating National Grammar Day by re-reading Fogarty's books (Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again & The Grammar Devotional).

Because I've also been named as the "Book Doctor" for the 2015 Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc conference, I'll be clearing space on my desk and preparing my writing and editing supplies—including red felt-tip PaperMate Flair pens, Black Beauty pencils and blue Bic Crystal pens (truth: I will use pretty much anything as an excuse to buy new office supplies and may also unapologetically steal my favored brands of writing instruments from you if you leave them lying around). I'm terribly excited, I get to read excerpts from works in progress and offer my advice on grammar, story and more—which is a job so right up my alley!

Ooh, pens and pencils and markers! Oh my!

Of course, I should also mention that I do these things in order to avoid the thing I should probably be doing—writing. I have several works in progress and have just stalled out on them. Those people who tell you that you have to make writing a habit by doing it every day? They have a damn valid point. It's too easy to get out of the habit. So, perhaps in honor of the day I'll also recommit myself to my writing.

I maintain write for used to write at a second blog about writing and editing, and while I'm not writing there, the information there is still hella helpful. I read through it every now and then to get a little booster shot. Some writing tips that I found (which may need to be tattooed on my arm so I don't forget them) may be helpful:
  1. Don't get in your own way. Writing is not that hard. Don't invent excuses not to do it. That's the hard part. Standing in the way of your own progress is the easy part, getting out of the way to allow yourself the time and space to write is the hard part.
  2. Be consistent. Sit down or stand up but for the love of words, write. Do it on the daily or every other day but make it consistent.
  3. Outline. When the story gets too big, make an outline to keep track of your story. Stories can get twisty and turny and you have all these ideas which may or may not fit, but you should keep track of them—be they tangent or story.
  4. Out loud. You will best hear your strengths and weaknesses when you unleash your words and speak them aloud.
  5. Practice. Even if your story is at a place where you can't push forward, practice your craft. Write something else. Write an alternate reality for your characters. Kill them, gleefully and often because they are not real. It's okay.
  6. Use restraint. Restrain yourself from editing too much. You'll have the finely tuned first five pages with the hot mess to follow. Write the damn thing from start to finish before you are tempted to take a red pen to it.
  7. Be open to it. When you do finally get to the editing phase? Please keep in mind that your editor wants you to have the best story possible. They are the people who are working hard to help you take the voices in your head and unspool the knot into a work of art. You should have a shared trust with your editor, and a mutual respect.
  8. Build a sacred circle. Know who you can trust to read your work. These are not people who will just tell you how great your story is. These are not people who will tell you how to change your story because they want it to be different. Your sacred circle is the group who will read, respect and offer feedback.
  9. Do what works. Use a computer, use a tablet, use a pad of paper with a pencil, use a package of looseleaf paper with a marker, use scraps of paper you keep in a ziplock bag—just for the love of it all, just do it. Write it and save it and write some more!
  10. Have patience. Writing may not be hard; writing well is. Give yourself the gift of patience. It takes a long time to think up that story, to write it down and to edit it for public consumption.
ounder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar - See more at:
ounder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar - See more at:

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