One of the most stellar bits of writing advice I’ve ever read was dispensed by Anne Lamott, the author of writing classic, Bird by Bird. Not only does Lamott give you “permission to write crap,” she also gives great brainstorming advice such as:
- “Keep a one-inch picture frame on your desk to remind yourself that for each moment, you only have to write as much as you can see through a one-inch picture frame.”
- In other words, when a whole project is overwhelming, break it into little pieces or as she says, “don’t try to eat the elephant in one sitting.”
I think of that one-inch picture frame all the time.
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I’m always looking for examples of “big message” in a little space.
My Hubs is a master of this.
The first time he did it was about six weeks after we met. We were on the phone, planning a date, and he said, “Don’t you have RWA this weekend?”
One sentence. . .six little words. . .and I knew he was a keeper. I knew this guy was tuned into me. When I’d said, “The second Saturday of the month is my writers’ meeting,” he not only listened, he put it on his calendar. That was the moment I knew, I was a goner.
That’s what I mean by a one-inch picture frame. You don’t have time to read Bird By Bird this month, but you can still use the trick.
Focus on your quick one inch picture frame when you’re stuck.
How can you quickly show, rather than tell? What small plot problem can you solve today. What little gesture says “I love you” to you? Work it all into your novel!
And if you’re wondering whether you really belong on this Crazy Writer Bus, take a second to read Laura Drake’s hilarious post, You Know You’re a Writer If . . .
Happy writing, y’all…