One of my favorite writing books is Rochelle Melander’s Write-A-Thon: Write your book in 26 days (and live to tell about it). I read it earlier this year when I was doing a full court press to complete my novel, Catch a Fisherman. It’s packed with advice on how to produce good-quality writing at a breakneck pace. It’s also very encouraging and contains a few laughs. One of my favorite exercises from the book is to create a field guide to assist you in your Write-A-Thon.
Since I am now participating in NaNoWriMo, I thought I would share my modified version of the field guide. (For you legal-minded types, Rochelle does give permission for this in the book).
Species name: Working Writer
Description: Varies, but resembles a human being
Appearance: Varies. Frequently appears hunched over a computer while wearing wrinkled pajamas. Hair may be in disarray and may or may not need to be washed.
Preferred habitat: Varies, but some usual habitats are a desk at home, in coffee shops, on the couch, at the kitchen table, and sometimes in bed with the laptop.
Distinguishing habits: Rapid typing, mumbling to self, surrounded by books and magazines that writer refers to as “research materials.” Usually over-caffeinated though has been found drinking alcohol in the afternoon. Aversion to house work, phone calls, and errands that may cut into that thing Writer calls “writing time.”
Often confused with: Online gamers or the mentally unstable.
Preferred food: Varies, but usually food high in calories and low in nutrition like pizza, chips, crackers, and ice cream. Preferred beverages also vary, but many Writers enjoy coffee, tea, hot chocolate, red wine, and occasional hard liquor, depending on the status of the Writer’s “work in process.”
Thrives on: Support, encouragement, lively discussions, exposure to weird people who will later become characters in Writer’s work.
Practices that endanger the Working Writer: Interruptions, talking to Writer, looking over Writer’s shoulder, offering advice, and loudly wondering when Writer will shut off the computer and cook dinner. Writer is also endangered by accidental data loss from computer crashes or viruses.
Cautions for approaching the Working Writer: Shield and body armor recommended. May wish to offer a bribe, such as cookies. Do not approach Writer from behind as this will startle Writer and cause it to swear loudly, losing its train of thought in the process, which will likely cause it to swear again.
Have you seen one of these in your neighborhood? True home range of Writer is not yet established by science.
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