Severe weather in Oregon has forced the birds in this condo development to fly south. Your correspondent will follow them next Monday. Look for writing advice, news and tips direct from sunny Zihuatanejo, Mexico, coming soon.

Mexico is a great place for writing at ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED, amigos.

John

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 The national economy is leaking on the sheets.
  Everybody knows that.
  The publishing industry is circling the bowl
   Everybody knows that.
   So why write?
    Here’s why. Whatever happens, you’ll be better off with a top-notch book to sell when things get better. Your psyche will be strengthened as your writing skills improve. It will be two years before anything you’re working on now sees the light of publication. Things might well be a lot better. Even if they’re not, you will have gained just by the affirmative act of writing itself.
    Your goal for today: Cease whining about the state of the world. Even if you have to use both sides of your yellow pad and sharpen your pencil with your teeth, HIT THOSE KEYS.
    The awful state economic affairs is nothing to laugh about, but take your nose out of the Business Weekly and keep polishing that book.
    You’ll be a better person for it. To accomplish this mission, of course, you will have to WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED.
     John

   Writers are terrified of making mistrakes.
   See, you got a little twitch there, didn’t you? This fear has killed more novels than have ever been published. It’s number two on my list of “Top Ten Mistakes Fiction Writers Make.” Many writers are controlled by the urge to perfect before pushing on. You know the symptoms: You’re on draft ninety-seven of you first sentence, revision eighty-six of your first paragraph.
    The Fix: Recognize this fear is normal and you are not a psychotic moron for feeling it–still, you’ve got to knock it off.
      All your life you’ve been brainwashed. “Obey the rules.” “Get it right the first time.” “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” This advice is great for brain surgeons. For writers on their first draft, not so much.
      Ignore that nasty little internal censor’s voice, junk the story through. Get the thing written. It’s awful? It’s supposed to be awful.
     All the detail work, the polishing, the proofreading, the perfecting, happens in the revision phase.
     If you spend days, weeks, years, working on fine-tuning your first chapter where the lovers meet in Istanbul, you may well find out the book works better set in Grants Pass, Oregon. (I can’t imagine that happening, I’m just saying . . .)
    To help break this habit, fling off this phobia, try writing something that doens’ matter much, maybe just a stream-of-consciousness rap about your first ex-husband, a rant about Republicans. Maybe a love scene that doesn’t belong anywhere except in your fantasy bank. Go ahead, let ‘er rip. Make mistakes, keep going–how important could a mistake be in this crapolla?
    Do that a few times just to get the feeling of power that comes from abandoning a mistake and pushing on. You’re a pro, you can go back and fix it later. What you need now–the only thing that will get you through this damn book–is word count.
    Hit those keys, let the strokes fall where they will. As always, WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED.
     John

    Thanks to the folks following this blog. I’m particularly interested in first paragraphs. (see new blog person.) You don’t have much time to hook people’s attention. So hit those keys. Who is the story about?
What’s at stake? What’s the inciting incident? Tell me now!
    There, I’ve just used up my lifetime supply of exclamation points.
     Nothing left but to tell you, WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED.
    John

   Though this is not a political blog, I have to admit–a couple extra tissues bit the dust during yesterday’s celebration. It struck me how much more important the emotions and feelings are as opposed to the cold, hard facts.
    This, like most everything else, is a lesson for writers. People read stories to feel things. Emotions bring us into the heart of the matter. Self-sacrifice is the most powerful motive you can give your character.
    As you write today (and you are writing today, no?) see if you can show us how those characters feel.
    A new day has dawned in the U.S., definitely time to WRITE AT ABSOULUTE TOP SPEED.
     John

    After a writer’s workshop a peaceful feeling comes. Just back from the “Top Ten Mistakes Fiction Writers Make” workshop in Yachats, OR. My thanks to a fine group of talented participants who will go far–now that they are no longer making the Top Ten Mistakes.
     As soon as I make a few more mistakes and figure them out, I’ll offer another workshop with the next ten mistakes writers make.
    The only mistake that’s terminal, however, is giving up. Keep writing, let me know if I can
help. WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED.
   John