Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Writing Like a Jedi

While waging battle on my weedy lawn over the weekend, it occurred to me that if I want to be successful as a writer, I need to approach it like a Jedi. 

Up until now, I've felt a lot like young Luke in the first of the original movies - a bit unsure and yet  unwilling to accept the advice of the Masters. 

There's no such thing as luck.  We have to give ourselves the time to develop our skills.  We need to be as patient with ourselves as we are with other people.  As writers, following our instincts will give us our story line, our characterization, the perfect ending.  But practice and training will save us in the end.

I've been reading the book, Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark.  This is one of the many books the facilitator for my writing class recommended.  I, like Luke, whined at the thought of it.  I just wanted to write, to give it my best, and try to get published before I was entirely ready - like Luke wanted to jump into battle before his skills were strong. 

None of us liked Luke, right?  Not at first.  Even as a child when I saw the movie the first time, I thought he needed to work on himself a little.

Writing Tools isolates a skill in each chapter - how to use adverbs appropriately, what to do if you can't get your sentence to work, using white space effectively, avoiding -ings, and much more.  I'm only a little way into the book.  A lot of what it offers is what we as writers do intuitively when we are on our game.

After I read several chapters of the book, I edited the first eight chapters of my novel.  I noticed that the sentences that I nailed were ones where I applied what the book said to do before I actually read the book.  I didn't know why the sentences were good - now I do.

So instead of rushing to finish my novel by the end of October just to endure crushing defeat by an army of publishers, I am going to step back and take the time to accept the advice of Mr. Clark.  I am going to focus my energy even more on my craft and humbly accept the advice of my peers.

Do or do not, there is no try isn't all it takes.  You also need to practice, to train your mind to do things that seemed impossible yesterday.

You need to believe you can lift that X-wing out of a swamp with your mind, but you also need to practice the skill before you bust it out in battle.  Same with writing, you have to give writing your undivided attention but also train intensely before you can consider yourself a Master. 

This mastery of writing is within our grasp - all of us.  I truly believe that.

Maybe my husband will loan me his Star Wars poster to hang over my desk so I don't forget I'm a Jedi in training.


  1. Just whatever you do, don't query in November or December. Those are the months that agents reject the most due to the nanowrimo event. Many of them hate it.

  2. Great advice. I didn't know that.

  3. Alex - I think it was only $6 or $7 on Amazon. Totally worth it.

  4. I'll have to look into it, too. Learn, but make sure you keep you in there. :)

  5. M Pax - Absolutely. Otherwise, why do it? :)

  6. Good luck Jedi - slowing down is probably always good advice.

  7. Rusty - Definitely on the edits. Must use my Jedi powers to write one of those last chapters today.