Monday, February 8, 2010

They're Just Words

Full credit for this topic goes to my crit buddy and personal oxygen tank, Christine Fonseca.

We were chatting last week. Basically, I was freaking out, as per my usual, and...well, I'll just copy and paste the transcript of the chat. I'd just gotten a critique and my wall had gone up. Remember that wall? Yeah, I'm breaking that down brick by painful, heavy brick.

me: Things I can probably do in a few hours.
Christine: way to move past the "funk"....
:D
me: And she wants part two, which I guess is good, right?
Christine: Very good!!
No major suckage!
me: Part three is a train wreck, so...
Christine: I love your confidence....
all fixable...
they are just words!
right?
me: They are just words!!
Holy crap!
I never realized that!
Christine: LOL!
me: Ah, my chest is expanding the right way now.
Toldja you're like oxygen.
Christine: very very good......
me: <3
Christine: and you are very sweet to say so....
okay -
so 20/5?
me: Yes. 20/5
go!

And then we work for 20 minutes on our MSs and then chat for 5. Okay, maybe like 15, but whatev. I could breathe again.

So srsly, they're just words. You can move them around. Change them. Delete them. Manipulate them until you have them in just the right order and saying exactly what you want.

So don't be afraid of those words! After all, they're just inanimate objects. Don't get attached to them. And don't worry if they suck! You can change them.

And that's how I broke down my wall. What has powered you through your writing? How are those words flowing for you?

62 comments:

MeganRebekah said...

What beautiful (and true) advice! I love it!

Liza said...

Words to live by...

Stephanie McGee said...

Congrats on getting through the revision blues. As for me, the words have been flowing pretty well the last couple of days. Well on my way to finishing this book.

Laura Pauling said...

Those darn walls made from brick and mortar. :)

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Good point, though sometimes its fun to believe they are more than that;)

Indigo said...

It's still a somewhat hard reality for a writer. Our words are in many ways voice we write with. But if you consider the fact as humans we don't always say or do the right thing, why would the first drafts of our books be perfect. At least there we can refine, change and give it a better approach.

Words are building blocks, we can build them up and tear them down. (Hugs)Indigo

Paul Greci said...

Thanks for the simple wisdom. It is so easy to forget that yes, they are just words. I'm going to remember this as I dive into a draft well into the double digits.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Today I have a lot on my plate. Editing is going to require me to go deep. Hack away paragraphs, rewrite others. The task feels intimidating...but I'm game.

Here I gooooooo.
~ Wendy

giddymomof6 said...

Hey, this sounds just like me and my writer friends do--expect we call them word challenges, trying to see who can get the most words in so many minutes. It really helps you just do it.

And she's so right, they're just words. Awesome!

Jenni

Tess said...

I love the quote by Tom Howe

"I used to think every word that managed to squeeze itself from my pen was immortal. Turns out they are all disposable. What a relief"

asabourova said...

Great post! This is something I try to remind myself of all the time. :)

Janet Johnson said...

True, true. But man, sometimes those words are the product of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

Still just words though. Good to remember. :)

Rebecca L Sutton said...

Very inspiring and true.

It reminds me of when I worked for Nordstrom. When things would get all chaotic and stressful a few very smart people used to say "It's only lipstick and panty hose."

Nisa said...

Very good way of breaking it down!

Bethany Wiggins said...

My big realization... not only are they just words, but they won't go away even if you don't finish writing them in a certain amount of time. You can start writing something today, put it aside for a year, and in a year your amazing brain will start back up right where it left off because the human brain is... well... amazing. So chill and enjoy the ride. There is always tomorrow. And they are just words.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Those words get us every time!

Glad you are taking the brick wall down. You didn't throw a brick out the window did ya? Words are easy to fix but those windows...yea a bit expensive lol!

Tamika: said...

Just words...Sounds like a simple enough formula to remember. I'll try anyway!

Christina Lee said...

I'm think I may be envious of your crit partner cheering you on step by step. So GREAT to have! Glad you are feeling inspired again!

Linda Kage said...

Best advice ever! They're just words.

Thank you so much.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

There must be something about crit partner's named Christine. My one has had similar conversations with me. :)

Nicole Ducleroir said...

I love this post! So true -- we shouldn't get so attached to every syllable we write. My biggest problem is cutting out extra words. Sheesh, the way I agonize over a sentence, you'd think I was deciding whether to go forward without a pinky finger, or something!

Great advice!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

A powerful reminder when I really need it - you really are the best, Elana! :-)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Isn't that wall a pain? I always feel the need to justify myself when the wall goes up. Then I usually discover the critiquer is right.

Yay for your oxygen buddy!

Jonathon Arntson said...

Sometimes I find myself vicariously living through you. I know, creepy right? But I am so willing to admit that your posts like these remind me that you've worked sooo hard and that I have to do the same and one day we'll be published authors chit-chatting at the water cooler and I'll pretend I didn't envy you for five years.

Jen said...

It's like being a parent, really. "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out..."

Confession Time: Morning People

Tere Kirkland said...

Good to remember! Thanks, Elana, as always!

Joanne said...

A nice reminder, because sometimes they feel like so much more than that! They are our life itself! I often find a long walk outdoors helps to keep my writing perspective in check.

Brandon said...

Your solution is much better than mine, which currently is to just do other stuff while I ignore my MS. Ugh, I need to get back into it tonight!

Carolyn V. said...

Words aren't flowing for me today. All that keeps popping up are math numbers. I can't wait to be done with that class.

Dominique said...

Congrats on breaking down your wall. I've a feeling I'm about to run into mine full speed. I'm rewriting the back half of the book (took a while to realize the end was just words and I could let them go), and it's been a while. So this should be interesting.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Words done flowing for a little bit! Taking a break...

Glad that realization struck you!

Patti said...

Great advice. They're just words and words are meant to be manipulated.

Tiffany Neal said...

Words that wake me up in the night...
I found you and I had both won the Over the Top award and felt I should know you and follow any one else who is as over the top as me!
Stop by if you get a chance!

Danyelle said...

*hugs*

Sometimes it's hard to remember that they are just words--especially when they're glaring at you from the computer screen. ;-)

Glad you broke down the wall. For me, it's always been a matter of me just keeping quiet and letting my characters do their thing. That means fears, hopes, everything. I can't be /me/ when I write, and yet writing is what brings me closest to myself.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

What a great reminder.

I needed that today.

They're just words -- we take some of twenty-six letters to form them, and then string together several to form a sentence, then string together several sentences to form paragraphs.

It's really just that simple.

Keliah said...

I agree with Liza. Words to live by! :)

Icy Roses said...

This is definitely the best perspective to go by when editing.

By the way, I was reading and I accidentally clicked "boring" underneath the post, but I DON'T THINK YOUR POST IS BORING! :-) I don't know how to undo it, though.

Cindy said...

Nice! I like this. Just words--it's okay, don't freak out! I am going to try to keep this in mind as I unearth all the passive verbs in the first few chapters of my WIP. I don't know how they got in there--I should know this by now--someone else must have put them in there. But ahh...just words. So I'll have fun with it, access my creative side and make those verbs fun, sharp and far more useful than they were before :)

L. T. Host said...

My wall can get quite high, quite quickly! Here's to giving me a way over/under/through. I'll have to try this next time.

Cheers!

lynnrush said...

Fantastic post. On my RWA group we do "sprinting". We meet in a chat room, write for a period of time, then chat, then write, . . . etc. I've only done it a couple times, but let me tell ya, it was fantastic.

My close crit friends and massive amounts of exercise power me through my writing. The words are flowing okay for right now. . . but we all know how quickly that can change.

Write on, my friends!

elizabeth mueller said...

Elana!

I've given you the Over the Top Award! Come by and pick it up! :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh, this is good! They are just words. They are. I believe it. Almost.

Breathe.... *Sigh.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Reminds me of a song:

It's only words
And words are all I have
To take your breath
Away

Oddly enough, I think it's an old BeeGees song. Sorry. :)

Kimberly Franklin said...

That is something we should all remember... they're just words! ; )


I left something for you on my blog today. : )

Click here to visit Kim Franklin’s blog!

Happy Monday!!!

Cassandra Frear said...

Oh, Elana, I adore this post. I am tweeting it as soon as I leave.

They are just words. We can change 'em, move 'em around, even erase 'em if we want to.

They are not us.

Life-giving thoughts.

Jemi Fraser said...

They are just words - my new mantra???

I needed to do a reread (a first for me) to plow through my wall recently. It worked, but it took some time.

Cheree said...

Great advice, after all, words are still just words.

Janna Qualman said...

Yes, I LOVE that! I take such comfort in the fact that it's all about manipulation.

Katie Ganshert said...

This is SO true! This is like an epiphany for me too! They ARE just words. Why do I get so scared of them at times?

Gail said...

They're just words but sometimes words (said by others usually) have so much power over us. Talking with someone you trust can pull the power from the words and put it back in you:-)

You're awesome Elana!!!!

Aaron Polson said...

I'm always hesitant to delete/move words around, but once I start, it's addictive. They are only words, and words are not our masters.

Katie said...

you're so wise :-) just words. That's all they are...

love it!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

What a wonderful friend! I needed to read that today too. And btw, 20-5 is a great idea!

Christine Fonseca said...

HA! I can't believe you posted our convo!!! but yeah...they really are just words. Thanks for always being my oxygen too.

Lisa and Laura said...

You guys are AWESOME. Seriously. Genius. <3 <3 <3

L.T. Elliot said...

That's a GREAT friend. Hang on tight to her. And I've recently begun to understand that words are just words--malleable. What a relief that is!

T. Anne said...

Guess what? I needed this right now! I'm in the midst of a finger bleeding, eyeball popping revision with my very first critique partner. Some pain is involved. On both our parts. ;) But, I'm breaking through. *sigh* now off to re-read your post! Thanx.

ali said...

This is awesome. YOU are awesome.

And Christine? Made of awesome too :)

Lorel Clayton said...

Great advice! But it would help if I knew which order the words were supposed to go in. Sometimes, it feels like a Rubik's cube without the colors.

Lori W. said...

Woo-hoo to this! Love the whole "you can move around, change 'em." Thanks for this.

Tabitha Bird said...

Yes- they are just words! Now that is a quotable quote! Why do my words seem to grow roots and refused to be moved without a lot of crying from me? :)

Glad your wall is breaking. I am working on mine!

And here's to great crit buddies. Mine is also like a personal oxygen tank. We chat alllll the time. I am not sure I could breathe without her sometimes. Certainly no writing would happen on some days :)

Thanks Wendy :)

Bish Denham said...

Excellent point.

Katherine Patterson said, "Where else in life can spilled milk be turned into icecream? We cannot go back and revise our lives, but being able to go back and revise what we have written comes closest."

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