NaNoWriMo Success Tip # 2: Focus On Your One-Inch Picture Frame

bird-by-birdOne 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…
~ Jenny

p.s. Here’s yesterday’s NaNoWriMowhat to do when you’re stuck” tip.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
This entry was posted in Inspiration, NaNoWriMo and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to NaNoWriMo Success Tip # 2: Focus On Your One-Inch Picture Frame

  1. Lena Corazon says:

    Great advice, and I love the story about your husband! Super sweet. 😀

    I’m aiming for a modified NaNo run this year, just to get my feet wet after not writing anything for the last couple of years. I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind during my sprinting sessions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m so delighted for you, Lena! We missed you during dissertation time. A LOT.

      Bravo to making a more sensible goal for yourself. Any words are a NaNo win in my book. See you on the Buddy List and here as I add tidbits for all my Writer’s Digest NaNo Newbies.


  2. Kelly Byrne says:

    Something I always struggle with – the big picture blues. I’m not a good concept creator and an even worse pitcher. I wasn’t built with that mode (didn’t come standard), but my little picture is generally pretty good when I’m there in the moment, the minutiae of the scene. My problem is I tend to let my shortcomings with the big picture intimidate me out of focusing on the itty bitty one and then I just walk away beating myself about the head. So thank you for reminding us to go small and make it happen.

    My favorite from Laura’s post: ‘…When you travel to the area where you set your small town series, and you want to stop in and say, ‘Hey’ to your characters. No, seriously.’

    Seriously. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. yvettecarol says:

    You know I’ve heard the term ‘bird by bird’ many times before, but this is the first time anyone has taken the time to explain it. Thank you, Jenny. What a neat concept 🙂 I’ll use that, thank you Anne Lamott

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Anne Lamott and Bird by Bird was the first craft book I ever read.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.