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Ready to Write: A Special Place, A Special Time
by Sandy Tritt
Many successful writers advise that it is important to have a special
place set aside in which to write. A room, a desk, a closet—somewhere that
is reserved only for the act of writing. I think this is wonderful. If you
can do this, and if this helps you get into the “writing mood,” do it.
Many writers also suggest setting aside a special time to write. To sit in
your special place for 30 minutes or 4 hours or however long you’ve set
aside, and discipline yourself to write. Again, I think this is great.
Some writers are very disciplined and get up at 4 a.m. to have 3 hours to
write before starting their workday. This impresses the heck out of me,
but I know I’d choose slumber in this circumstance.
In fact, none of this has ever worked for me. I write any where, any time.
I keep a pad of paper by my bedside, so when I awaken at 3 a.m. with the
solution to my writing dilemma, I am ready to write. I keep paper in my
car, so when I’m waiting to pick up my kids or stuck in traffic, I can
write. I keep paper in my oversized handbag, so while I’m at the doctor’s
office or the PTA meeting, I can write. And I keep a laptop computer in my
living room, in the same room as the television set and the energetic
teenagers and the dog and the husband, and while I’m enjoying family time,
For me, finding the time to write or the place to write has never been the
problem. For me, forcing myself to finish my chores before I write, making
myself accept my other responsibilities before I write, is the problem.
Writer’s Block? Uh-huh. I believe that writer’s block is what happens when
we don’t know what comes next in our story. So, start another story. I
always have several projects open at one time—two or three novels, two or
three short stories, and usually a few nonfiction or workshop projects.
Anytime my brain gets tired or stuck on one story, I’ve got another to go
to. Of course, the danger in this is that it is easy never to actually
finish any one project, but that, again, is where discipline comes in. I
try to assign “priorities” to my work. I usually have one fiction and one
non-fiction project that is my current priority, and I don’t switch to one
of the other projects unless I am truly stuck and need a break.
It is also easy to be overtaken by distractions. During the day, when I am
home alone, I never turn on the television set. And those wonderful
computer games that are so compelling? I have to admit, I love them. I
compete against myself constantly in trying to do better all the time. But
I only allow myself to indulge in the late evenings, when my house is
usually so active that I would have difficulty concentrating on writing
I wrote my first novel while working full-time, with three small children
at home. I wrote during lunch breaks, while stirring spaghetti sauce,
while pumping gas. I wrote at every possible snippet of time, and when I
wasn’t physically writing, my mind was busy working out plot and such so
that when I could grab a pen and paper, I’d be ready to go.
The moral of the story: if you want to write, you will find the time and
you will find the space. If you are the type of person who needs
structure, then give that to yourself. Set aside a desk and a special
time. However, if you have such a burning desire to write that nothing
will stop you from doing it, then don’t limit yourself to a special place
or a special time. Just do it.
(from Section 1, Workbook)
Want more great tips and techniques? Our
Inspiration for Writers
Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more
topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and
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(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. November be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
When the Writing
by W.R. Logan
finished. The work you have slaved
over for so long has come to an end.
Wow, now you can call yourself a
writer. I mean you’ve already
written the book and found a
publisher. What more is there for
you to do but sit back and wait for
the royalties to pour in? Did
someone say rewrites?
That’s right, rewrites. I know it’s
hard to believe, but publishers have
these people called editors who do
nothing but find faults in our work.
They actually send us parts of our
work back to rewrite them, or worse,
delete them all together. Now as
writers we put our heart and soul
into every word in our work, and any
attack on it feels like one on us
personally. But should we take it
personally? And when should we
After throwing a few tantrums and
getting over my own ego, I came to
realize there are only three good
reasons to raise objections to an
1. If it changes a defining style.
Example: Removing something that
makes your writing your own or
deleting something a character does
(nervous twitch, stutter) that
defines him or her.
2. If the statement or passage is
going to be used later on in the
story. Remember, editors don’t
always know where we are going with
our writing. Sometimes they see
something as filler that we intend
to use in book two.
3. If the change distorts or impugns
the point or message we hope to
make. Remember that editors have
opinions too and they won’t always
agree with yours. But that doesn’t
give them the right to change your
When I got over my God complex and
took a look at what the editor was
suggesting, most time I found them
to be right. It turns out their goal
in this whole process was the same
as mine- to make my book the best it
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Publishing New Writers,
November, 2004 (no. 510)
Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.
Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions /comments email@example.com.
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Copyright III: Myths about Copyright
by Jim Colombo
Brad Templeton has written, "10 Big
Myths about copyright explained." He
is Chairman of the Board of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, the
leading foundation protecting
liberties and privacy in cyberspace.
He is not an attorney and these are
his interpretations of copyright:"EFF
is a nonprofit group of passionate
people — lawyers, volunteers, and
visionaries — working to protect your
These days, almost all things are copyrighted the moment they are written,
and no copyright notice is required.
Copyright is still violated whether you charged money or not, only damages
are affected by that.
Postings to the net are not granted to the public domain, and don't grant
you any permission to do further copying except
perhaps the sort of
copying the poster might have expected in the ordinary flow of the net.
Fair use is a complex doctrine meant to allow certain valuable social
purposes. Ask yourself why you are republishing what you are posting and
why you couldn't have just rewritten it in your own words.
Copyright is not lost because you don't defend it; that's a concept from
trademark law. The ownership of names is also from trademark law, so don't
say somebody has a name copyrighted.
Fan fiction and other work derived from copyrighted works is a copyright
Copyright law is mostly civil law where the special rights of criminal
defendants you hear so much about don't apply. Watch out, however, as new
laws are moving copyright violation into the criminal realm.
Don't rationalize that you are helping the copyright holder; often it's
not that hard to ask permission.
Posting E-mail is technically a violation, but revealing facts from E-mail
you got isn't, and for almost all typical E-mail, nobody could wring any
damages from you for posting it. The law doesn't do much to protect works
with no commercial value.
The internet is a blessing and a cure presently because it gives you the
audience you wish, but the exposure you don't want. Unlike a work of art
with a public display, posting on the web reduces the value of your
writing because it now lacks exclusivity. Posting on the internet is like
buying a new car, it smells great, but as you leave the dealership the
value of your car is diminished. Use the Internet wisely, Luke.
Critiques by Sandy
Unlike most editors, I consider my role
to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I
explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how
to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat
business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other
Treat you with respect and compassion.
All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to
improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
Mark your manuscript, correcting
grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where
Highlight areas that are especially
well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
Where appropriate, offer suggestions for
plot development, character development or other areas that could be
Return a two-to-four page written
analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting,
characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks,
etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
If appropriate, recommend reading or
resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
Answer any questions you have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article
- left column.)