Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Rule for Writers

There is a lot of advice on how to be or not to be a writer. One bit I heard too many times to count is that a writer should write everyday.

It is a good idea to approach any endeavor in a disciplined way. But I wondered how a writer of primarily picture book texts, can write every single day.

Picture books are ideas, concepts, visions. The text is short. Can a writer sit down and pen a new picture book every day, day after day? Is mulling over the placement of one word considered ‘writing?’ Does revising count as writing? When the advice-givers say ‘write every day,’ do they mean any sort of writing? Letters to friends or even grocery lists?

Over time I came to understand my own writing rhythms, and assign myself quotas that made sense and worked for me.

I do not write a new paragraph of fiction everyday. I understand this advice in a way that keeps me productive.

So if I dare give advice now, I’d say- don’t be literal in understanding advice. (Though being literate is still a good thing, wink.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writerly Rules

Many how-to articles tell of rules for writers. I haven’t met a writerly-rule that hasn’t benefited from being broken now and then.

I just ^ did it. I made up a word, writerly. Using made up words is not a good habit for writers, the rule-makers say. James Joyce and Dr. Seuss were exempted, but they were brilliant.

And don’t use the passive voice, such as I just did. ‘Were exempted’ is passive, and passive construction is weak.

And what’s worse is that the made up word is one that ends with the dreaded ‘ly.’ Writers should not use adjectives and adverbs. Adverbs and adjectives weaken prose.

Beginning writers should follow the rules.


Dr. Seuss wasn’t always The Dr. Seuss.

Passive construction has a special place- to convey vagueness. To be a diffusing voice.

Adverbs and adjectives make good shortcuts in the right places.

I like knowing the rules, and I love breaking them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I recall the thrill of walking on the beach in Israel. I was no older than four, kicking sand, when I found an ancient Roman coin.

The coin was brown with tarnish and had uneven edges. For a second I thought it was a pebble. But a closer look showed letters, and the head profile of some guy. The coin didn’t look like a treasure.

The thrill I felt was a realization that someone, a real Roman person, had been there.

Writers write for the same reasons artists create. We write because we have something to say, or we want to say something even when we don’t know what, and because we want to leave something behind. Something that says I was here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


The key to writing is to have a beginning, middle and an end.

This is the beginning.
It’s also the beginning of my new blogging adventure. I had to start somewhere, because my kind publisher said blogging is helpful. It helps readers connect, it helps a writer keep the writing flow, and it helps to keep the writer out of trouble. Because idle hands… you know.

So here it begins.