Category Archives: Writing

Perfection and promises

I promised myself I’d update this site by … January? That was my New Year’s resolution.

And here we are, on March 2, 2017, with the same old site. Change often takes place out of sight.

Even as this page remained static, I’ve been busy working — in some cases for private clients because this site does not pay my bills. In other cases, I’ve been creating content and supporting documents for two book projects.

One book has been in the works for (drum roll, please) more than 20 years. Because it’s a memoir, I had to make some changes within first. And, because it will be my first book, I’ve had to get past the notion that it may be the worst book, ever.

As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about failure and getting comfortable with the notion of having zero guarentees as ot hte outcome.

Because perfect is the enemy of good, I’ve been writing the book itself. It will probably be terrible but at least it will be done.

Bouchercon lessons

Bouchercon book haul — well, some of the books I picked up, anyway. Copyright 2015 Peg McNichol

Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to attend the Annual World Mystery Convention’s annual reader-author conference, better known as Bouchercon.

Being both reader and writer, I veered between those roles in my attentiveness to authors talking about why and how they wrote their respective books (in many cases, series of books).

Here are a few tips I picked up on the writing life — something I’m working on daily with intermittent success:

  • Good writers read regularly and aren’t afraid to read a wide spectrum of genres.
  • Every writer has his or her own process, but: having a writing routine is an essential building block.
  • Figuring out what process works for you can involve testing and rejecting patterns — up early and writing before anything else happens (a la Elmore Leonard); or waiting until the family is asleep and grabbing 15 minutes on weeknights, a few hours stolen from each weekend; or something in between.
  • Whatever you write needs, like bread, a period of rest and inattention before editing begins.
  • The best work is well-edited. In the words of so many editors and Stephen King: “Kill your darlings.”
  • Editing is a process best left until you finish what working writers refer to as “the shitty first draft.”
  • If you don’t start writing, you’ll have nothing to edit and nothing to publish.
  • Done is better than perfect.
  • You’ll never satisfy every reader. In fact, you’ll probably disappoint or even offend some or all. Write anyway.