Greetings From Baby-Land!

*taps microphone* 

Hello? Is anyone out there? 

I know I haven't been around in a while (*cough* about four months *cough*), but I hope I still have a few people interested in reading along... 

Evie 10.16.17.jpg

Long story short: I have vanished, happily, into Baby-Land. My daughter is an absolute joy. (She doesn't really sleep that much—which isn't ideal, to say the least—but at least she's pretty happy most of the time she's awake!) It's been an adjustment, going from almost-full-time writer to almost-full-time mom trying to squeeze in writing time around naps and babysitting hours, but I'm slowly figuring things out. 

On the writing front, about a month ago I was able to complete the latest revision of the middle-grade novel rewrite I've been working on for about a year. Turning a polished draft in to my agent in September felt like such a milestone! While I wait to hear her thoughts, I've been percolating...*drum roll*...a new idea! I've mentioned before on here that new ideas—ones that could actually become a decent book, I mean—are rare for me. I often know what I want to work on right after the book I'm currently writing or revising, but can't see much farther into the future. So, every time I get excited about brainstorming something fresh, it's a big deal. Not going to share details about this new project yet, but rest assured: it has POTENTIAL. :D 

I also used to review books on this blog. Sad to say, I'm not reading as much as I once did. It's partly a matter of time, and it's partly a matter of sleep-deprivation making it hard to focus. BUT! I have to shout out a few recent reads: I adored Courtney Stevens' DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS, Mackenzi Lee's THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, and Adam Silvera's THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END. Currently, I'm working my way through a tome on baby sleep (HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS, HAPPY CHILD), but the next fiction work in my TBR stack is Brittany Cavallaro's A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, which comes highly recommended by my sister and fellow avid-kidlit-reader, Mary-Owen. 

And...that's me these days! A lot of baby-time, a bit of writing, a bit of reading. And maybe, in the coming months, a bit of forward momentum in publishing-world? Cross your fingers for me! 

How's everyone's fall going? 


Quieting Your Inner Editor

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


Have you ever started a first draft and gotten stuck revising (and revising…and revising…) 30 pages in? This post is for you—and it’s for me.

Hi, I’m Kathryn, and I sometimes have a problem with my Inner Editor.

A little background: When I started seriously trying to write a book, I was coming out of several years as a full-time magazine writer and editor. I still write articles in a freelance capacity. For short-form writing (and obviously for copyediting), my Inner Editor is a huge asset. It (she?) helps me quickly turn out polished, professional prose. But writing books is, well, another story. 

I worked on my first novel through most of grad school, and because I didn’t really know any other way to write, I approached the drafting process in small chunks. I’d polish and polish each chapter or section, and only when I was completely happy with it would I move on. (The writing workshop structure didn’t help in this regard, since I had to submit 20ish pages every few weeks.) It’s not that I wasn’t making forward progress. I was! I was actually writing a book! But wow, was I drafting slowly. Not to mention the fact that I got to the climactic scene near the end only to realize—whoops!—I didn’t have a bad guy. And this was the kind of book that required a bad guy.

I’d spent so much time on the individual trees that I’d lost track of the forest.

Fast forward a few years (and a few revisions and querying cycles with that manuscript). When I started my next book—which became THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND—I took a different approach from the get-go. I wanted to draft fast. I wanted a sense of urgency and momentum in the plot from Draft One, even knowing that I’d have holes and character inconsistencies and yeah, probably some terrible sentences and clunky dialogue. I started writing in May 2012 and had a finished draft by the end of July. It was a mess—but I was so proud. (And then the real work began…but that’s another conversation for another post!)

How did I pull it off? A big piece of the puzzle was quieting that Inner Editor that wanted everything to be perfect before I moved on. Here are some Inner Editor–quieting** tactics that worked for me. Maybe they'll work for you!

**Note: “Quiet,” not “kill”—I don’t advocate violence toward your Inner Editor! You need him/her!


When drafting, I try to start each writing session by reading over the last few pages I wrote. Reading—not editing. (Or trying not to…) That puts me in the right headspace to move forward. Not only does knowing where I am help me know what I need to write next, rereading what’s there also lets me jump into the voice and writing style more smoothly than if I just sat down and started hammering away at my keyboard. The more “in” the story I am, the less likely I am to get caught up tinkering on the sentence level.  


Obviously, as you write forward and continue to solidify the plot/characters in your head, you’ll realize that changes need to be made to what you’ve already done. But do you have to make those changes now? Sometimes you do; writing out a new scene to reflect a change can be just what you need to move forward. But in other cases, you can give yourself and your Inner Editor peace of mind by simply going back and adding a note. My early drafts are peppered with comments to deal with later. “Why exactly is she mad at him in this scene?” (I know they have to fight; I’ve written the fight; I’ll figure out the motivation later.) “From this page on, she plays tennis, not soccer.” (I can change all prior mentions of my character being a soccer player in Draft 2.) “Does anyone still use this word?” (My Inner Editor has a friend, the Inner Researcher, who would rather spend hours looking up minutiae online than write the scene with a placeholder.)

What I keep telling myself in this phase is, it’s not that I’m ignoring the problems. I’m acknowledging them, jotting down a detailed reminder or question to myself, and then going back to today’s task: writing forward.


This is hard, because this is the mental part of the equation: realizing that it’s okay for your draft to be messy, or inconsistent, or to just plain suck. I don’t like rereading something I wrote, even in a first draft, and feeling like it’s not good. I doubt anyone does. Sometimes it's a struggle to trust that I'll be able to fix problems down the road. So I have to turn to other writers for inspiration: 







Are you a champion first-drafter? What do you do to keep your Inner Editor at bay? Share your suggestions in the comments! 


Don't Let Laziness Win!

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


Today, I wanted to share something a yoga teacher shared with me. He was talking about yoga practice, but as I was listening to him, I couldn’t help thinking about how applicable his words were to my writing practice, as well. His topic? Avoiding laziness.

Lazy. It’s not a very nice word. None of us wants to think of ourselves as lazy—especially not when it comes to our writing goals! But the way my teacher was talking about it, it was less of a pejorative and more of an obstacle we all have to overcome as we strive to improve. He brought up three types of laziness that can get in the way of a good yoga practice—or writing practice, since that’s what we’re all about here! 


This is the most obvious form of laziness—not mustering the energy or the motivation to get things done. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix instead of writing or revising. Taking a nap during scheduled work time. Is there anything inherently wrong with needing downtime? Of course not. But if sloth is keeping us from meeting our goals, we might need to reassess how hard we’re willing to push ourselves.  


Those of us who are crazy-busy all the time couldn’t possibly be lazy, right? The only reason we aren’t writing as much as we should be is because we simply don’t have enough time. But how much of each busy day is devoted to necessary tasks, and how much to activities that are frivolous? Could we write instead of watching mindless TV or going to yet another happy hour? Could writing be squeezed into a lunch break? Battling this form of laziness is all about setting priorities—if writing is important, we shouldn’t let it be overshadowed by activities that aren’t.


I think writers can relate to this one even more than aspiring yogis. After all, having a hard time achieving a certain yoga pose isn’t quite the same as putting yourself and your writing out there and getting crushing feedback, or dozens of rejections, or bad reviews on a published work. Being a writer can be discouraging, and we all have to learn to cope with the difficult times—and celebrate the successes. So where does laziness factor in? Every time we avoid writing because “No agent will ever want to work with me, anyway,” or because “I’ll never figure out this tough scene, so why bother?” When we let discouragement keep us from trying, that’s a problem.

I left that yoga class truly inspired to work harder. To push the things that should be priorities in my life (including writing, but not only writing!) to their rightful place in my busy schedule. To write even when I’m feeling frustrated or discouraged about my progress. And the more I thought about my teacher’s words, the more I wanted to share them with my fellow writers! I hope thinking about laziness in a new way is as helpful to you as it was to me. 

After all, what's the first rule of writing? Butt in chair.

Now I'm going to take my own advice and get to work. :)