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February 17, 2012


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It's taken me a while to believe in the benefits of exercising different writing muscles, but I'm coming around. Maybe my worries get the best of me because I've got Popeye arms but my legs are too spindly to run away. LOL! What an image. :)

There's the perfectionism worry, but I also worry about starting any new writing projects because I think I will never finish the ones already on my plate. That's the big no-no. It doesn't matter that I've been playing with the project on the plate just like a child who has to finish eating her peas.

I remember that stubborn child who thought of a lot of things you can do with peas. Build a pyramid, arrange them in a "HELP" sign, or finally mash them up. And who wants to eat cold, mashed up peas?

Reworking the same story can feel a lot like the stages of "pushing around the peas on my plate." I don't even know how it happens because the story starts out with something lot more appealing than peas. It was strawberry shortcake. :) Honest.

But it's nice to find out working on whatever something else it is that still feels like strawberry shortcake, isn't giving up or mean I'll leave everything I've ever written in a state of mashed peas. You're right, somehow the work I second guessed looks a lot better after excercising other muscles.


When you are the author, all the characters and scenes are in your head already, so that re-reading gives you a different perspective to the average customer who is only going to read the book once.

Perfectionist polishing is understandable as you want the product to be the best you can produce; but over-polishing can remove the feel of spontaneity which can sometimes make a book sparkle.

If you were ever a girl guide (scout in my case!) you may remember sitting round a camp fire listening to stories. The best books can be a bit like that. The spontaneity of the speaker, who may improvise to cover mistakes, is all important. If he read from a polished prepared script it would lose that quality and not be nearly as much fun!

Melissa, I'm all for leaving the cold mashed peas and moving straight to desert (love strawberry shortcake!). Could you leave a link to your web site please? I would like to see what else is cooking!


Q, not much is cooking right now as I'm spending most of my time memorizing parasites for my class. It's a unique way of making the second-guessed stories look very appealing! LOL But I try to do a blog post once a week or two...

Donna Cummings

I love the great conversation you two have been having while I was gone! And I'd thought about putting Melissa in charge of the cooking, until she mentioned the parasites. LOL

And I understand completely what you mean about the worry you'll never finish something. I think sometimes it's good to switch to a different project, because it sparks something in the brain, or makes the other project jealous -- something happens, I'm not sure exactly what! But I can separate my brain so I can work on a couple completely different things. I get excited about both of them, so I know I won't completely abandon them (and I won't be forced to push peas around my plate either. LOL)

Donna Cummings

Q, I agree wholeheartedly with your point about over-polishing a story and then all the sparkle is gone. I've worried about that too (naturally! I worry about everything. LOL) I think it's good to remember, though, that the goal is to captivate a reader and enchant them. It's like a live performance, in a way, rather than a perfectly rehearsed, perfectly performed program. (Look at all those "p's". LOL)

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