Wednesday, September 29, 2010

18 WOW Wednesday: K. M. Walton

Today's guest blogger, K.M. Walton, spent ten years as a public middle school language arts teacher and loved every single day in her classroom. She now spends her time coaching teachers on highly effective instructional practices and writing, writing, writing and more writing. She is represented by Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown Ltd. and considers herself blessed on many levels.

You can find K.M. on her blog, on Twitter, on She Writes , and on Teen Fire.

Finding the Nugget of Gold

First, thank you to the lovely Marissa and Martina for extending their guest post invitation. I’m honored.

This post is for three kinds of writers:

Writer A: You have this genius idea for a book, maybe even a few notes on said book, but have conjured every know excuse to mankind…and just haven’t started it.
  • My eyes water when I stare at my computer screen for extended periods of time – I’m a human being, not a machine!
  • My bangs prevent me from seeing what I type.
  • The sound my office chair makes when I sit down annoys me and I don’t like to be annoyed.
  • I’ll hit the wrong keys because my nails are just too damn long.
  • And the ever popular and ever persistent…I don’t have time.

Don’t hide, you know who you are.

Writer B: You have completed a book, maybe even revised it until your brain exploded, but can’t seem to get a second book written. Your excuses may sound a little bit like this…
  • It’s only been two years (one year, ten years, etc…) since I wrote my first book, what am I a machine?
  • I’m not starting anything new until my first novel is as perfectly perfect as perfect can get. 
  • I have this idea for another book but geez, I can’t do it again (to be perfectly honest, I can’t believe I did it the first time).
  • I know the first book was a fluke and there is no way in hell I can write another book, no way.
  • And the ever popular and ever persistent…I don’t have time.

Don’t hide, you know who you are.

Writer C: You have written multiple books, maybe even have some published, but you consistently sabotage yourself at every twist and turn. Your excuses go like this…
  • I can’t do it again, I just can’t. 
  • I’m out of ideas -- what do you think I am a machine? 
  • I’ve already written two (three, six, ten) books, can’t you leave me the heck alone already? I have television to watch!
  • And the ever popular and ever persistent…I don’t have time.

Don’t you hide either, you know who you are.

So, Writers A, B and C, have you ever been asked -- How did you write an entire book? How did you do it? I could never write a book! After I’d written my first novel I typically replied, “I don’t know…it’s crazy, isn’t it? I can’t believe I did it either.”

Two and a half years (and five novels) later, if someone were to ask me today I’d say, “I just sat down and I wrote it.” And that’s the hand-to-heart truth. There is no other way to get a book written. No mystical sparkle dust to sprinkle on your keyboard. No magic wand to wave across your forehead. No double rainbow to gaze into for “the answers.” There’s just your idea and the computer, and that’s it. We all know (and secretly loathe) the saying, “Butt In Chair” because deep down, in our writer’y souls, we know it is the only way for writing to occur...the only way for our book to get written.

One. Word. At. A. Time.

Will our first draft blow chunks? Most likely. Will it require hours and hours of revision? Absolutely. But there is supermodel-like beauty in that vomit covered first draft. And the beauty, when we wash away the ick, is the one gold nugget (sentence, paragraph, page) that when we read it, we smile ear to ear and look around for someone to read it out loud to.

See, we writers are not machines. We are human and flawed and fantastic. We gnaw at our cuticles till they bleed. We have hidden stashes of chocolate in our desk drawers. We have breathy whispers that gust on our inner fires of doubt until they blacken and singe our hopes…our confidence…our dreams.

I don’t know about you, but when my “butt is in chair” actually writing, I feel plugged in and alive. In those moments, I’m pretty sure I have superpowers too, like I could fly, knock out the bad guys, lift up a bus…and definitely put out the fire.

Write.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great post. Yes, most days when I sit down to write, even if I don't think I want to, I get sucked into it and enjoy it. But some days, I'm one of those other writers.

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  2. Excellent advice K.M.! Thx for posting :)

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  3. What a great post! Thanks for the wonderful advice! Writing is my outlet when I get stressed so I try to find every excuse to sit down and "Work" that I can.

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  4. I love your voice in this post! Your advice is perfect and true: one word at a time. I think I'll print that out and hang it on my wall. You know; I'm forgetful. LOL.

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  5. I love this post. You are so right...just write it one word at a time!

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  6. AWW YAY Kate! you know I <3 u!

    I love that you said: "I feel plugged in and alive"--me too!!! Yes --great post!

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  7. A supermodel cover in vomit. What an image. Almost makes me afraid to start my first draft. I hate vomit. ;)

    I'm about to start the first draft of my new project and I can't wait.

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  8. GREAT post with excellent advice. The best thing about it is that the advice can be applied to darn near any task in life.

    JUST DO IT....ONE STEP AT A TIME!

    Thanks for sharing.

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  9. I <3 this post.

    When my friends ask how I write my answer is "I just do it" as well. I have to force myself to sit my butt on the chair, but once I'm there I love it. :)

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  10. Great post! One word at a time is my mantra whenever I sit down to write. Those 'one words' add up quickly when you put them all together! Great advice for writers, aspiring writers, and anyone who wonders how someone could sit down and write a whole book.

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  11. This was lovely. Exactly what I needed. Sometimes I get so caught up on all the other stuff that I forget that just sitting down and writing is freaking amazing.

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  12. Yeah! good stuff! On that note, I'm going to go write on my WIP! No excuses...

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  13. Great advice! You've inspired me to quit making excuses. :)

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  14. Great post Kate! I have been making excuses for finishing my third book. The truth is I'm scared because it is a different genre than my first 2. John says to me "One day at a time; one word at a time". I admire your determination.

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  15. I enjoyed reading your post, Kate. I think I'm writer type C ;)

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  16. Oops, I meant B lol. I only wish I'd written multiple books

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  17. Hi everyone. I am thrilled that what I wrote affected/inspired some of you. I can't stop smiling actually!

    I took my own advice and wrote myself into a stupor today!!!

    Thanks again, Marissa and Martina -- your blog rocks.

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  18. I have a hard time visualizing that I too can finish this book, like I have my others. I need to remind myself it can be done...

    Great guest post!!

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