Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
Z is for Zymurgy
This is our last Blogging A from Z post. The mission was a success and soon the space capsule will splash down. Crowds will cheer and confetti will litter the web. But before we blow the bolts on the hatch door and get some much-needed rest, let’s take a moment to reflect on everything we talked about this month. Just let all that new data dart around inside your skulls like a bunch of zero gravity pennies.
Zymurgy is the term used for the fermentation process when making beer or wine. Today we’re using it as a stand-in for those times a writer needs to let a story rest for a while.
There are three critical times when halting writing might actually be a better plan then pounding away at the keys.
3 Tips for using Zymurgy
At the start: According to Stephen King, the projects he can’t forget are the ones he knows are winners. He reportedly let UNDER THE DOME ferment for decades, making not one, but two failed attempts before the time was right for committing it to print. If you’re sitting on a five-year-old story idea you can’t stop thinking about, that is most likely the story you should pick up next. And it’s okay to let that story bubble a little longer while you finish something more time sensitive. Passion for a great book idea builds and gets better over time, while the lesser stories will fade away and be forgotten.
Between revisions: Once a draft is done, walk away for a while. Take some time to read and relax. You might not be able to completely put the story out of your mind, but try to. Work on something different if you must keep writing during the break. Stockpile a few blog posts while you wait! Setting your work on the shelf makes it possible for you to see the words on the page clearly. You will start to spot all the mistakes you would have read over when what you intended to write was still fresh in your mind.
After feedback: Nothing good comes from attacking your work with a hatchet after a bad critique. Stop! Ask for clarification on the feedback. Talk about the critique with another trusted friend writer. I know critique is hard, and when harsh words come from someone you trust, it tempts you to cut to the bone, or to dismiss the criticism. Waiting helps you gain perspective. When you wait, sometimes what first looked like a condemnation of your whole book project turns out to be a few afternoons of editing. Problems look easier when you’re less emotional volatile. All revisions call for some zymurgy. By letting the feedback sink in, you can accept your own mistakes and take responsibly for fixing them.
2 Examples of wise Zymurgy
Zymurgy has many fine uses, for example, when you get a bad review or a few angry commentators invade your blog. Take a deep breath and count from 30 to zero backwards by 3s before you do anything.
Also remember, many wonderful, mind-blowing books were not written overnight. If the time and energy it takes for you to do your best work is slower then your fellow writers, so be it. You might be judged unfavorably in the short term against their speed, but in the long term, quality shines over quantity every time.
1 Link for more help
Since today is also the last day of Camp NaNoWriMo I going to end the Blogging from A to Z Challenge the way we started it, by sending out some love to our writer pals over there. Here is my reminder to everyone that every book is a journey and you need to enjoy the process: NaNoWriMo Blues
Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.
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