A Personal Trainer for Writers?

Personal Trainers have gained in popularity the past 10 years. They motivate you and set you on the course for better fitness and health. My four-legged friend is the closest I’ve ever had to having one. A springer spaniel is the ultimate motivator. If I’m sitting and she hasn’t had her walk, watch out. She’s relentless until the leash comes out. The joy she gets from running up hills, dashing after the occasional rabbit, and smelling all her familiar spots makes it all worth the effort. The only problem is she can’t differentiate between pouring rain and a sunny day. Exercise for her is good no matter what the conditions.

Like my health and fitness, writing too is a journey. It’s also one that the dog can’t help with. She could care less about my incessant tapping away at the keyboard. When I’m stuck on a scene or the motivation is lost, who’s my personal trainer for writing? Actually, there are many.

BOOKS: At least 75% of what I read is in the genre I’ve settled into as a writer- middle grade. I read to analyze what others writers are doing with the written word, how they make a character memorable, and making note of each story arc. It’s one of the best ways to become a better writer by following those making the footsteps ahead of you.

TIME: My third manuscript was flowing along nicely when I realized a subplot did not work. I had done much research to make sure it fit, but after writing the scenes they didn’t seem right. I took a few days to rethink the strategy. Those walks with the dog, the quiet of early morning, and the scenes playing out in my head helped me realize I needed to drop the subplot. I did and now am back on course. First draft by July 4th was my original plan but at 20,000 words in, I have a ways to go. Letting ideas sit even for a day or two can allow your mind to refocus.

CRITIQUERS: At first I used friends who knew this age group, librarians from various schools I’ve taught at, and neighbors. Yeah, they’re too nice. As one good friend said, “I know how hard you worked on this so I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”  I then went and found critique partners who I’d never met. They were still kind but also not afraid to tell me like it is. Another viewpoint is exactly what I need for a manuscript to improve.

BLOGS: What would I do without the fantastic network of blogging sites? I’ve learned, questioned, and become more open to making changes to my own writing. Some of the best out there:

That’s it! Who’s your writing personal trainer?

 

 

 

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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6 Responses to A Personal Trainer for Writers?

  1. I don’t need a personal trainer. I need someone with a whip and chains! Thanks for the links. I already read some, but found a couple new ones.

  2. agree completely about books. When I’m stuck, I just pick up a book and it gets the creative juices going again!

  3. Susan says:

    I need the “boot camp officer” type of personal trainer for writing that will yell at me and not accept my excuses for not writing/editing. I know what you mean about people close to you being “too nice”, but sometimes I need that encouragement!

  4. warrchick says:

    Great post! I love the analogy between the writing journey, and the fitness one. Hopefully we’re always moving forward on each, right? In fact, I think I’ll use this to springboard a post I need to write for a group blog this month. 🙂 Links when I do!

    As for my personal trainer in writing…I have a group of critique partners/writing friends that I’ve journeyed with along this path, but since most of us have moved in to the second stage, so we rely more on editors and/or agents, I think, and mostly use each other as moral support or for a quick second look at a scene. My agent is definitely my number one trainer, since I can brainstorm with her and knowing she’s excited to see a wip can provide it’s own motivation. But, I think I also use my characters. They want their stories told, so shout for me to keep the story moving forward!

    –Suzanne
    http://www.suzannewarr.com

    • Yes, those critique partners are a life saver. It’s a wonderful feeling when they recommend just the right twist or change that I had not seen. Thanks for dropping by today!

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