Stop Checking Your Word Count

word count photoDon’t Check Your Word Count

Yes, you read that right.

Don’t check it.

Of course, now that I’ve said something, you’ll probably want to check it. But try to resist.

A few weeks ago I talked about using the improv rule “yes… and?” when you write as a means to push yourself into new places by letting your imagination go wild. Improv lets you experiment, lets you break boundaries that you might have consciously or unconsciously set for yourself.

Something else that I think you should try is not checking your word count on your first draft. Like, at all. Ever. Just don’t do it. Continue reading

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Yes… and?

In my last post, I wrote about remixing stories and how I am using my latest project as a workout for my own writing and imagination muscles. Just like our physical muscles need to be pushed and challenged in new ways, our brains need the same kind of workout. If we always do bicep curls, we’re going to have some fantastic biceps, but our other muscles will look pretty puny in comparison!

So I’d like to share with you one of the fundamental rules I have for writing and, indeed, for my life in general. It’s something that I learned a long time ago (but in a galaxy fairly nearby) in elementary school theatre classes:

Yes… and?

Let me ‘splain.

Baby Kim says "Yes!" (and mugs for the camera, like usual)

Baby Kim says “Yes!” (and mugs for the camera, like usual)

I went to an arts magnet school, which basically means I was groomed to be a theatre/music/art nerd from the earliest stages. At least three times a week, we’d all shuffle in to theatre class, which was sometimes held in a hallway when the school was remodeling one year. Before we started anything else, our lovely teacher (think: Miss Honey from Matilda) would set us up for an improv game. “Just to get our minds and bodies going,” she’d say.

Our favorite game was one we called “Person, Place, and Thing.” The small group of three or four students would stand in front of the room as the other students called out a person, place, and thing. So, the group in front might get “fire fighter, bathroom, magazine.” And with these three pieces of information, the group would have to improv a story with characters and setting and some conflict that needed to be resolved. And there were only two rules:

1) Anything goes.

2) You can never say no. Continue reading

8 Rules to Become a Great Writer

There’s considerable pressure in writing a blog post that will land directly on a holiday. I have to confess I panicked momentarily when I realized I would be the Teatime blogger responsible for Christmas. I flirted with a take on the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas for a moment because the ideas amused me, but nothing really stuck. Eventually, I put everything on the back burner for a while and let my subconscious work on the idea until something popped to the forefront.

Gift boxI wanted my Christmas post to be something special for everyone. A gift of writing if you will, suitable to the holiday season. It was actually during a martial arts class that I realized I had the perfect “gift” to give all our readers here at Teatime. During the question and answer session after a particularly difficult kung fu workout, I realized that the rules to become a great martial artist actually apply to being great at anything you do, including becoming a published novelist. Best of all, there are only 8 rules to remember. Just eight. That’s it. Sharing them is my holiday gift to you all. (I hope you approve, Sifu!)

Happy holidays,

~ Jennelle ~

Continue reading