I’m on leave this week.  My head thinks, “Wow!  I can get lots of writing in.”  The reality is that I still need downtime from the day job, not just switch hats.

I’d be out visiting a museum normally, especially with the weather spitting rain.  But COVID-19 restrictions have made that such a challenge that it robs the fun out of any museum visits.

So I end up going to Walmart instead.  It’s a big production for me because Walmart isn’t near me.  I need a few extra pairs of winter gloves.  I always lose one of my gloves in winter and have to chase a replacement down.  I want to be prepared this time.  Target had winter hats but gloves?  Since they changed around the store, they haven’t had any good gloves in years.  So Walmart it is.

I use Waze this time because I want to see if there’s a different way to get there so I can do a little exploring.  I take longer with Waze.  My trip is a straight shot.  Waze takes me around all these turns, runs into trouble when it tells me to turn on one street—and it ain’t there (Virginia streets).  Turned into a big hassle since Walmart was woeful on the gloves, too.

Work for an hour cycling on the story.   Then break for lunch and pick up the newsletter for a couple of hours when I come back.  Then wander into the writing again.  Inner critics’s been getting nervous during the cycling.  I have to have this story done by November and the cycling felt like it was taking forever.  But I just hit a spot that’s making the inner critic happy.  Now we’ll see…

Meanwhile, I run into a writer on Twitter who says she prefers to not learn from best sellers, but from other beginners.  I tried not to cringe.  It’s common wisdom on writing message boards and I practiced it myself at one point. So everyone at the same level is giving each other advice, even when they don’t know what they’re talking about like:

  • Keep description to a minimum. Do it in in drips and drabs. The reader doesn’t need that. .
  • The reader doesn’t care about the five senses. Leave those out.

Those two gut your ability to do any characterization. You can’t have your character’s blue eyes ice over with anger if you haven’t told the reader the character has blue eyes or have laid in the groundwork–through description–of the changes in his behavior when his emotions change. You end up reduced to characters shaking fists or slamming doors to show they are angry.

The result was that I learned an awful lot of bad habits, including learning not to trust myself. So I ended up spending a lot of time unlearning all those things.