Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Soirée - Bonnie Neubauer's Writing Basics

We've spoken/written about writing rules before. I have my basic writing rules that I believe in and follow and as some of you commented here, and here, you have yours. Plus there are the other rules we hold to be must-haves or rather must-do’s of the writing life.

Still in the spirit or staying open (my watchwords), learning and improving, it is a good practice to seek out other writers in person if possible, by reading their personal essays and biographies or on the Internet (websites and blogs), to see how they write and understand the rules their follow.

While surfing writing sites, I found Bonnie Neubauer who shares these basics on her website.

Basic Rules to Keep in Mind While You Are Writing (or to rebel against if that's more to your liking).

Keep Writing:

Don't stop. If you hit a block, write the last word over and over until something new starts flowing from your pen. Usually it's the word "and". Write "and and and and and and and and" and soon you will be writing "and I am sick of writing the word and. I am also sick of ... " and you're off and writing again!

Don't Edit:

Editing is left-brained work, and these exercises are right-brained fun. So don't go back and cross out or change words. Keep moving forward. And don't worry about spelling or grammar. There's plenty of time for that later. Just make sure you can read it!

Let Yourself Go:

Don't worry about the end result. Give yourself permission to write junk. Don't hold back. Don't filter. Go on an adventure.

Be Specific:

Use all your senses to describe things. Use your sense of smell to describe a cab, your sense of taste to describe a computer. The best way for readers to recall what you've written is to be specific: Not "toy", but "plastic Batman figure missing an arm".

Don't Negate Your Work:

Be proud of what you write. Know that the only rule is to fill the page, usually in 10 minutes ... and you will have accomplished that!

Have Fun:

Or maybe it's time to get a new hobby!


I'm always inspired when I come across another writer whose writing rules, practices and process mirror my own. Additionally, the writer who writes with rules I've never heard of before, adheres to the most unconventional practices and finds success with an interesting or even wacky process, pushes me to be a little more adventurous with my own writing.

Do you enjoy reading about writers who buck the writing or publishing system, works/writes against the grain of convention and who no matter what happens, they seem to be having a whale of a time?

Do any of Bonnie's rules resonate with you because you follow the same? Did you find one here or elsewhere that made you go "Huh!" but woke up your adventurous spirit and made you think that it might be worth a try?


Terri Tiffany said...

She has some great rules. When I did my wip this time, I tried the one where I didn't edit as I go and it worked! I could keep writing and rarely got stuck!

Cheryl Wright said...

Hey Terri,

"Editing as I go" is one of those habits (bad one that)that trips me up every time - slows my flow, stalls my momentum and wastes my time.

It really does help to let go of the obsession to get it right, right now, and just write.

I'm glad to know that you are making use of this rule and see the results.

Jan said...

Hi there,
Nice post! I just wrote one of my monthly magazine columns this morning and apparently I followed most of these rules. The one I struggled with was "Have fun," so I am looking at that one again, thanks to you. As much as I love having a column (actually I write 3-5 a month, depending on the publications' schedules), sometimes I dread the deadlines. This, I think, puts a damper on my enthusiasm, at least initially. Because really, what writer wouldn't die to have a monthly column? Once I get into the swing of things, though, my enthusiasm begins to rise and I am pretty darn happy with myself.

I always ask my husband to read over my work after I tighten up the draft. Having a second opinion and a second set of eyes is really important!

Hope you loved your writing life today!

Cheryl Wright said...

Oh yes Jan,

I too, sometimes forget to have fun with my writing - columns and feature assignments. I have fun commenting on my favorite blogs though. That's writing too, so I suppose it counts. And in that case, I have fun every day.

Joanne said...

I think maybe we get so, so intent on the writing at hand, that is the moment we stop having "fun." But I like being in that really intent zone, too, when my world is focused down to the keyboard and my thoughts to the exclusion of all else. It's an interesting place to be, but not necessarily "fun." I might actually be immersed in the seriousness of what I'm penning. Satisfying? Yes. Immensely rewarding. Purposeful. Positive. A great place to be.

B J Keltz said...

Great rules for busting through the stresses of the day and finding my writing "place," and I use them.

I might do better if I spent more time editing as I go only because once the story is told, I get lost as to how to edit it into something publishable, but then I work from only a basic outline. I'm tring to set more guidelines going into this next novel so I have a better "blueprint" that will hopefully eliminate big plot revisions. We'll see how it goes. I want to start writing NOW of course, but holding off until it is more developed in my head.

Thanks for the post. :)

Cheryl Wright said...


I wish you God speed, clear thinking and success as you proceed with your new novel.

Cheryl Wright said...


There is an element of fun in putting our noses to the grind stone and doing our best work, whatever our passion.

Life Potentials Network said...

Cheryl, this list is great and reminds me of a drawing exercise I did once around creativity. We had to use our non-dominant hand, close our eyes, and just let our hand move however it wanted. We were to do this every day for 7 days. The idea was not to create a work of art, but to just get used to letting go of control. We could go to back to them later and color them in and it was really a fun, liberating exercise, freeing up the flow of creativity!

janice said...

Nice post - I enjoy reading pieces where writers talk about their art; there's always an undercurrent of passion and an overwhelming urge to share, no matter how elegant the writing is.

I must be peculiar, because I flit quite easily between right and left brain (a creative analyst)and enjoy editing as part of the ongoing process, even though I do a major prune after a piece is finished. I like writing blog comments because they encourage me to be spontaneous and you always know who your reader is!

Cheryl Wright said...


Yes, let go and go with the flow - that's a sure way to unearth and enjoy our creativity at its deepest and purest level. The shoulds and shouldn'ts can come after.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Janice,

Spontaneity - I still struggle with this but like I said in my comment at your blog, I've come a long way.

Heck, I can dash off a response to someone's comment here, (SNAP) just like that and whip up a comment at one of my favorite blogs in a jiffy. I surprise myself every time.

I can't really explain it yet, but this much I can say, my writing is more aligned with my passion for it.

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