Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Study Writing Until We "Get It"


My mom has always been sort of a "baby whisperer." She has a way about her that comforts a fussy baby or an antsy toddler. I wish I'd written down all the little nuggets of advice she dispensed while my kids were smaller.

Disclaimer: I know that parenting styles differ. A lot. And there's more than one way to raise a child.

One piece of my mom's advice stood out. When my first son was little, and I didn't want him to do something, I'd tell him no. He'd try to do it again, and my mom reminded me to remind him again. After several reminders, I was frustrated and asked my mom, "How many times do I need to teach him?"

Her answer? "Until he gets it."

Stay strong, be firm but gentle, and don't give in. Choosing our battles comes into play here, too, but that's another subject.

"Until he gets it." That little piece of gold has helped me through all stages of parenthood, even as we're deep in the teen years. How many times did I teach which letters made which sounds? Until he got it. How many times did I teach him to be a good friend, even when others weren't? Until he got it.

That same piece of advice could be helpful for writers.

  • How often should we learn about plot? Until we get it.
  • How often should we learn about character? Until we get it.
  • How often should we write new material? Until we get it.
  • How often should we refill our creative wells? Until we get it.
  • How long should we pursue our publishing goals? Until we reach them.
And when we finally "get it?" We keep going, because there's always something to learn, and many ways to improve.

What's your opinion of the "until he gets it" advice? If you're a parent, what's the most valuable piece of advice you received? As a writer, what's the best piece of advice someone gave you?

photo credit

28 comments:

  1. I think it's great advice! The best advice I've gotten is A)Practice and B)Read, (rinse repeat).

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    1. Practice and Read. Excellent advice! (and fun, too)

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  2. It takes practice and dedication to continue.

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    1. Miranda, that's so true. And perseverance :)

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  3. Great piece of advice, Julie. As with everything in life, I wonder if I'll ever get with writing. But I keep trying...With kids, it's all about consistency. I'd say with writing, it's good to be consistent as far as making the time, continuing to learn, and never giving up.

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    1. Michele, for me, I have to really commit myself to learning. There's so much I don't know!

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  4. As writers, we'll probably always be practicing, trying to get it.
    If I was a parent, I'd sound like MC Hammer. "Can't touch this."

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    1. Ha! I was definitely an MC Hammer parent. I left my decorations out and taught my kids not to touch them. Oh, and food in the kitchen only. But hey, our carpet is white and still looks good :)

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  5. I think this mantra is the only reason I've accomplished anything, really. Gosh, it really is all about putting in the work and pushing. To not stop. And with kids? Phew. I'm hoping there's merit to the whole "they'll be fine as long as there's unconditional love!" LOL.

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    1. Morgan, I'll tell you something else my mom said. Me and my brother and sisters are totally square, and I asked my mom how in the heck she raised such squares. Her answer? "I have no idea. I just loved you so much and made sure you knew it."

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  6. Totally agree. Anyone who wants to be a writer, but doesn't expect to become a lifelong learner on the craft, should quit while they're not that far behind.

    Nothing irks me more than a writing group or forum where someone comes in asking for some advice. You then recommend some books, but oh wait, they don't read, especially books on the craft of writing.

    That's like wanting to learn math or science but refusing to ever pickup a text book imo.

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    1. Excellent point, Ash! Sometimes I feel like I'm learning way too slow, but hey, at least I'm learning!

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  7. Love this advice, Julie! Both for parenting and for writing. It's true, if we focus on that maybe it won't be so hard when we get frustrated. Maybe one more time and he (or I) will get it!

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    1. Lisa, that little piece of advice helped me remain calm when I was frustrated that my boys didn't get something right the first time.

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    1. No way! Linda, did you ever watch or read Anne of Green Gables? I think we have a "kindred spirit" thing going on :)

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  9. That's perfect! Sometimes it seems a very long time before he/she/they/we/I get it, but it's worth it in the end!!

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    1. Jemi, when it comes to my kids and "getting it," I remind myself how long it takes me to get stuff :)

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  10. Your mother is so wise! I love this!

    Someone just told me today that it is incredibly important to separate publishing goals from writing goals. I'd never thought about it before, but she said it's so helpful in managing the stress and maintaining productivity. I thought that was brilliant advice!

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    1. Ooooh, excellent advice! I'll try to remember that when I'm frustrated with my progress. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I love this advice! In writing there's always something new to learn, but I just have to tackle one thing at a time. Until I get it. :)

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    1. One thing at a time. i like that! Otherwise, forgettaboutit

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  12. Great motherly and writerly advice!! We have to go on, persevere as many times as it takes to get it!!

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  13. I'm not a parent but this makes perfect sense to me! Sometimes, though, I think kids totally get it much earlier than they indicate but their curiosity is way stronger than their will to behave, LoL! :)

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  14. Such great advice, from both writing and parenting standpoints. Thanks for sharing, Julie!

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  15. So true. We have to keep moving forward, regardless - and keep our eyes on our own paper. There's always someone who seems luckier and farther ahead!

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  16. My greatest piece of advice goes hand in hand with yours: "Never quit." ~Winston Churchill

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  17. Amazingly simple writing advice, but so helpful!

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