Tag Archives: the writing life

Construction Zone

I have a 53 mile round trip commute. Freeway construction really slows me down—often taking me more than an hour to get home. So what’s a writer to do while waiting in stopped traffic? Why imagine how construction signs mirror the writing process, of course!

Road work ahead

The perfect signage for the first page, the first blog, the first website, the first tweet. There are months and months ( and years ) of plotting and drafting  and rewriting and editing  to come. Sounds daunting but the work is part of the process.

one lane road

Unless you’re part of writing duo or team, this sign applies to most writers. It’s all you you you. Your effort. Your time. Your imagination. Your grit. Your tenacity.

hard hat area

Writers need to prepare for falling debris. Their world is fraught with danger. Our own fears and anxieties, dismissive friends, lack of time management, errands, careers, family, and a myriad of setbacks will consume our days. Writers must take a hard look at their dream and prepare. Wearing your hard hat should help see you safety through the construction process.

please excuse our appearanceYoga pants, t-shirt, hair gathered in a pony tail, face free of make-up ( for the gals ), scruffy face ( for the guys ); the writer’s uniform stays on unless they must emerge from their writing cave. And even then….


Ack! There’s a glitch in the plot. That character isn’t convincing! This dialog is blah! Constructing a novel is a bumpy ride and part of the fun!


Pay heed to those in the know. Listen to their advice. Running over the flagman might land you in a novel ditch.


Ideal signage for editing. Zipping through a draft doesn’t allow for a thoughtful and critical examination of diction, syntax, and grammar.


You know what causes detours! Tweeting, facebooking, web browsing, computer issues, lost data….or ack! plotting snafus! Detours are frustrating and take time to correct. Take a deep breath.

exit closed

Noooo…not that! I need to go that way! What exits are closed to you? See a closed exit as an opportunity for redirection, for a scenic route, for a different way to achieve your goal.

end road work

Whoot whoot! Your drafts are done! It’s time to send it to a beta reader, agent, or editor! Happy dance. Until another idea for a book sends you back to the beginning!

Related posts: Readin’ & Writin’, Rock Your Writing

Handy-Dandy Responses

handy dandy JPGOn rare occasions, writers may leave their creative cave joining with friends and family to partake of festivities and merriment. On said occasions these friends/family are bound to ask casual questions about your writing, novel in progress, and/or your current publishing process.

Their seemingly innocent questions–delivered with a genuine smile–often leave the new author stymied.  How does a writer respond to casual questions by a non-writer? They’re your friends and family after all, they like you—might even buy one of your novels–so they expect a genuine answer.

Well, before launching into a prolonged too-much-info reply—and you’ll know when their eyes begin to glaze over—here’s a few all-purpose responses.

1. Most often asked question:
Question: How’s your novel coming along?
 Writer: Great thank you! I’m on the [ # of drafts]. How is [ add their hobby here]?


2. You know they’re gonna ask!
Question: What’s your book about?
Craft that one-sentence hook or elevator pitch now! If it falls flat you know it needs work.
Writer: A young Kansas teenager battles a diabolical shoe-stealing witch.


3. Question: Where do you get your ideas?
Non-writers really really want to know. They don’t understand how our brain works. The trick is to give them a glimpse without freaking them out.
Writer: Ideas come to me in a dream. (The standard Mary Shelly of Frankenstein fame response.)
I have no clue. Ideas just pop into my brain at random times.


4. The Inevitable.
Question: I’m thinking of writing a memoir/novel. Do you have any advice?
Writer: ( with big smile) I have lots of advice. Call me when you’re ready to begin and I’ll be happy to answer all your questions over coffee.

As any writer knows, more than one cup of coffee will be required to impart all your wisdom and advice.


5. The Inevitable II
Question: Can I be in your next novel?
Writer: Absolutely, how would you like to die?

True story: In the opening scene of one novel,  I very loosely pattern the victim after a friend. When I told him how he dies, he spent the rest of the party telling everyone, “Hey, L.Z. kills me in her book!” “Excellent! ‘Bout time,” was the standard reply. 


6: The Movie!
Question: Why don’t you turn your book into a movie?
No need to blast them with a lecture on the fundamentals of script-writing, producing, financing, directing, casting, and other Hollywood fun facts.
Writer: Wouldn’t that be fun? Who would you cast as [ insert name of character ] ?


Of course, should you have family or friends with the same writing affliction…um passion, feel free to talk, moan, bewail, share plot problems, and celebrate successes. Although…you did come to the party to take a break from writing!

So…now that you have a few quick answers to some tricky questions, go out there and mingle like regular people.

Note: Click on the picture to read what we think when asked that writing question.