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Thursday, January 18, 2018

DIY MFA Book Club, Prompt #5: What's one "best practice" that didn't work for you?

"Best practice," hmm.

For the past couple of days, I've been thinking about this and how to best express my opinion of "best practice."

My father was in the Air Force and I love the military. Early in my life, I discovered I didn't like being told what to do. I knew I wouldn't do well following my father's footsteps. No one, and I mean no one, tells me what to do. There's an instant wall between us and, sometimes, words that shouldn't be coming from my mouth, or fingers. So, when I decided writing was something for me, I listened, read, took notes, and then did exactly what I wanted to do.

If you want to know more about my becoming a writer/author, check out my blog post here.

I've read various books by authors to discover their "secret" and, true to form, I took what I wanted, scoffed at what I knew I'd never use, and internalized their ideas, recommendations, and experiences on their way to authordom. Here are some of the books I've read:


I went to a couple of websites to help me remember the books on writing I've read.(all my books are packed in anticipation of my move back to Florida and my memory, well, can't find it.) The first site I checked out was: The 10 Best Books About Writing By Josh Jackson.  His first statement hit me: "Writing is hard." For me it is. Even with a book under my belt. It's hard. I'm sure that's why I didn't do well in high school and why it takes me so long to finish a book. It's well worth it, don't get me wrong, but it's very hard for me. Okay, I know, the books:
  •  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (a group of us did this at the bookstore I owned) To this day, I don't follow it's journaling recommendations. I may start journaling, but never made a habit of it. I know I should, but, I don't. (I even have a published book that came from journaling. (?) I just don't.
  • Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury This book may have released the creative from within, I have 5 children's books ready for illustration and final editing, and 5 other novels in various stages of outline ready for flushing out.
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser Since I don't write non-fiction, I'm hoping some of this was internalized and transcribed to work with my fiction writing.
  • On Writing by Stephen King I read this when I was going through my 'authors know best' stage. As Gabriel points out she had difficulty following his word count recommendations, I didn't even bother. That wall popped up. You want me to do, what? Who do you think you are telling me I have to...? You get the picture. But his other writing advice is, hopefully, still running around with my thoughts and ideas of how to write.
The above site didn't get all my books, so I went to another. Best Books on Writing at Goodreads.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.  This is a great reference book.
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss Another great reference book.
  • How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card Maybe by the time I got to this book, I had already internalized his recommendations. I felt like this was just a book of patting himself on the back.
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain  I think I have this book.
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster Again, I have this book but have not read it. But I read, maybe not like a professor, like a writer. It's so frustrating. That's why I try to audio most of my books. A bit harder to criticise the writing.
  • 45 Master Characters, Revised Edition: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt Don't know if I have this exact edition, but I love pulling character traits from her lists and making my own characters.
  • The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions by Becky Levine Because I've been part of many critique groups and I'm definitely opinionated. Not is a horrible way, but some don't like the way I critique.
  • The Lively Art of Writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne As a reference book.
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers by Joseph Gibaldi  For reference.
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu For reference.
There are other books, I know it, but can't seem to find them in these lists, or may have forgotten their titles enough to not recognize them in the list. (especially since the Goodreads list was well over 600 books) Anyway, there's a sampling of my, mostly read, books on writing.

Back to "best practices" that didn't work. Can't think of any because, like I said, I'm not one to follow. I'm one to pick and choose. Mostly, I love breaking the rules.

Aquaculture update:

Snow and freezing rain last night. Here's a walk to the fish shed, past the aqualculture system all buttoned up tight.
I love fresh, untouched snow. I hate the cold, the wet, and mostly the cold. This storm will be short lived, thankfully. Can't wait to uncover the system and let it breathe and feel the warmth of the sun. There are strawberry plants under the tarp. Hope they're wintering well. The Farmer's Almanac says we're to get one more major snowstorm in early February. Then I'll be counting down the days for the uncovering.






Want to join me and over 3,000 authors on Facebook as we 'Word Nerds Unite' and participate in the diyMFA Book Club? Click here.

Don't forget to stop by "Ten Little Gator Eggs" and Botanical Aquaponics on your way. And check out the diyMFA website. It's full of information and workable ideas to help you:
  • Finish that draft once and for all
  • Craft a story that your readers will LOVE
  • Make that publishing dream a reality
So check them out. You won't be sorry, but you'll have to make room on your plate.
Books I'm reading:
diyMFA by Gabriela Pereira, Jacquelyn Mitchard
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Conquering Hope by Kionne L. McGhee
It Cannoli Be Murder by Karoline Barrett

Recently finished:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer
Prophecy of the Dragon by Mike Shelton (waiting for his next book)
Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

1 comment:

Samantha Dunaway Bryant said...

Wow! You have made a study of this. Even when you find out the ideas don't work for you, the work can still be valuable. You have to try something on to know if it fits. @mirymom1 from
Balancing Act