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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Windows Open or Closed?


Okay, so Summer is here, my favorite time of year. The kids are home, the weather is hot, and the garden is freely giving. One thing I love about summer is the freedom. I love not having to bundle the kids to a ridiculous degree before loading them in the car. I enjoy stepping outside barefoot and feeling the warm pavement at my feet. Last but not least, I love driving with the windows down. I know the air conditioner can do a better job, but nothing beats the fresh air.

Now since my brain rarely takes a rest, I find myself relating this open window thing to writing (of course). I believe it's important to keep an open mind while I write. I recently blogged about how I'm No Longer a Pantser, but that doesn't mean I'm unwilling to budge. I don't even have it in me to stay on such a strict course. Sure I have plotted my scenes. Mapped out an outline of where I need to go. But I'm keeping my mental windows open. Listening to what the characters have to say. I hear their reasons for wanting to take some wild detour, and sometimes I'll even play them out. 


I think another way we can 'stay open' is by reading. I like reading a variety of great authors so that I'm constantly consuming good writing (and Krispy Kremes, but that's beside the point). I'm paying attention to what others have done, noting what works for them. I definitely think it helps us develop our craft.


Lastly, being open-minded during critiques is important, right? (Hey, I didn't say it was easy - just important.) It can help us look beyond our perspective and see how others view our book. Especially if the feedback is repeated by more than one source. 

So what about you? Do you write with your windows open? Drive with them closed? Are you depressed (like me) about the kids going back to school soon? You learned to share in kindergarten, and now's the time - share your thoughts with me. I love your comments!

46 comments:

  1. I definitely keep my windows open. I used to be so defensive about anything--if I felt I was being attacked or criticized (not just with writing) then the walls come up. But years of writing and reading (also being a wife and a mom) has taught me to swallow the ego and accept that I can improve. So now, critiques don't faze me. In fact, I'm grateful for them. I can't always see what's wrong with my own work, so it really helps to have someone else's perspective.

    The same goes for my writing. I plot a little, go by the seat of my pants, and listen to my writerly gut. ;)

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  2. Sounds like a great balance, Cherie. And yes, motherhood teaches us all sorts of things, right? :)

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  3. Windows wide open! I love it when my characters surprise me; it's part of the fun of writing and keeps things fresh. I don't have kids so am planning my vacation time in September! And yes, I keep my TBR list on my blog. Reading is the flip side of writing, and if I ever feel a case of writer's block, reading is usually the solution.

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  4. I'm still writing for love, so mostly I'm on the windows open train. (Granted that works a lot better in the fall and spring here in Florida.) And as far as reading, 2 books a week is a healthy habit I think. Oh and on the editing end of things, if I can take my husband's commentary, I can handle anyones. (He keeps telling me that's a good thing.)

    My kids don't "go back" to school seeing how we home school, so we enjoy the love all year round. We also face the challenge of writing time around their schedule. Pros and cons I suppose.

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  5. Windows open! In writing and driving in the summer evening. And yes, I'm dreading school starting. We only have less than 3 weeks! Boo!

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  6. So you might be living in a cold weather country.. ask Indians about their favorite weather and all will shout in unison for winters.

    Cheers,
    Weakest LINK

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  7. Monica: Great point! Reading is a great way to get out of the book and away from the block.

    Crystal: LOL about the hubby's commentary. I get it.

    Katie: You. Me. Savers. Three weeks when the kids are in school.

    Rachit: It's crazy to imagine warm winters. I love thinking about the great differences around the world! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  8. Reading, reading, reading! Totally opens my writing window. I find the literary summer breezes inspiring:)

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  9. I'm learning to keep the windows open, if only to see what flies in :)

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  10. As far as cars go, I close the windows. For some reason my ears hurt when the wind blows through the car.
    I do like the windows open at home though. So I guess I like open as long as my ears don't hurt.

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  11. Aw - I drive with them closed when it's super HOT. Open when its comfortable. It's wonderful. And I definitely try to write with them open. What a wonderful post and a small world! You guys did my sons baptism pictures and now I am finding you in the writing world! So cool.

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  12. Ruth, Sarah, and Jenna: Thanks for checking in and leaving your thoughts!
    Abby, How cool is that? Hope all is going well; glad to see you in the blogging/writing world!

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  13. Hmmm, I drive with them closed (air on) when it is Hot. In the fall and even sometimes in the winter, I have them open. I no longer have to worry about the kids going back to school. I at the stage that I get up early, jump in the shower and then go sit on my dek with a cup of coffee for an hour before work. Sometimes I bring my laptop out there. It is my favorite time of the day!

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  14. Oh, but when the windows are down, it messes up your hair! Or your ego. I agree, it sometimes is hard to be open to critism, but it is so much better than stale air...
    Kim Karras

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  15. Wonderful post. :) But, I am eager for my kids to go back to school. We've been SO busy with activities this summer, I've struggled to find any time to write. So, I look forward to getting back to the craft of writing. I miss it!!

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  16. Definitely with the windows open and the hair (although short) blowing in the wind with the music turned up. I write my little short stories about my crazy life so there's no wondering what my characters are up too (it's generally me and the dogs.) Loving your blog. Thanks for the follow on my blog. I started reading one post and couldn't stop. Posting to My Life. One Story at a Time. on Facebook. Donna

    http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com

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  17. OK - no link to post. Would love if you added that box to your blog. I love to share great posts on my face book page. Thanks for considering it. Donna

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  18. Maeve: On the deck in the morning with a warm drink - I'd be loving that time of day too.
    Kim: Love the stale air analysis!
    Margo: Tons of summer activities here, too. I agree it will be nice to spend more time writing, but I know I'll be missing my babies.

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  19. Donna: Thanks for the kind words and fun thoughts! Looks like I just missed you.I really enjoyed your site as well, and I've got you on my blog list now. :)

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  20. I definitely keep my windows open. I'm turning into a plotter as well, but I'll find when I'm writing with an outline, my characters still tell me where to go and sometimes I forget my outline completely. I just roll with it. You know? :)
    As for school starting, my son is going into first grade. :( I'm sad he'll be gone all day. But excited because he is. He loves to learn, and even though I'll miss him, he'll at least be enjoying himself and learning new things. And I still have 2 little ones to keep me company at home. :)

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  21. I keep an open mind even though I have a general idea of where I'm going with each chapter I write. Great ideas come out of the blue and it's wise to keep the creative channels open.

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  22. I write with all the windows all the way down. But in the car I'm all about a/c. We've had more than thirty 100+ days and all that's in the 10-day forecast is more heat and sun.

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  23. I'm a windows down girl, preferring fresh air to AC, unless it's really not. Also stopped pantsing this year and it was the best decision I'd ever made as a writer.

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  24. I write with the windows open! I'm a plotter, but I don't plot out everything in detail. I leave room for the wind that blows in. :)

    And I'm totally depressed about summer almost being over and the kids going back to school! It always comes way too soon for me.

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  25. not only do i write with the windows open, i write with the windows open while i drive. it's dangerous, but it motivates me to go quickly

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  26. Hi Kimberly, I always plot before hand. Although... one unexpected character reaction or emotional response can toss this careful planning out the window, so I suppose I keep it open halfway :)

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  27. Thanks for your comments, guys! Sounds like you've all found a pretty nice balance.
    Now because this is my blog site, I feel obligated to strongly advise against writing while driving like j.littlejohn. Not all of us possess the rare talent required to pull that one off. :)

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  28. Hi Kimberly! I'm the same way as you on this one. I outline, plot, get the broad picture down, but once it comes to writing it all out, the window is open and I just let the characters take over. I do argue with them here and there to stop playing with those windows or I'll close them up for good, but for the most part they tell me what makes sense to the story.

    I also make it a point to read at the very least right before bed. I love great books. After all, it's my motivation. I also bookmark great scenes so I can go over what really made them work.

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  29. L.J. I love the 'stop playing with the windows or I'll close them for good' thing; cracks me up. :)

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  30. You have a fabulous blog! I'm your newest follower. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

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  31. Thank you Deidra! For your kind words and for the award! On my way to pick it up now. :)

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  32. I'm extremely open minded, at least after awhile.

    (BTW, I'm from Seattle, where there is no such thing as a/c, so my windows are always open.)

    I try to read outside my genre every month or so. Sometimes I'm very disappointed (Divergent, Water for Elephants) and sometimes I'm wonderfully surprised (Stolen, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.) But whatever I read, it's always interesting to see what's getting published and what is popular.

    Critique partners offer such a unique experience. I've had some that wanted nothing more than the opportunity to share what they just learned in their college creative writing class. I've had others who truly brought their game on, offering me their years of expertise and endless amounts of encouragement. I even had one, my very first, who tore my ms to shreds. I cried for 2 days and nearly gave up until I realized, though his technique was crap, he was right. And now my ms is so much better for it. Can't say that I like the guy, but I will forever be grateful to him for being so brutally honest.

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  33. I like to be open minded, because I know that I find inspiration in the unexpected. But, like many, I sometimes get stuck in routines. Glad to have found your blog. I look forward to reading the pantser vs. plotter posts. I have issues with that on longer pieces.

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  34. OK, I've always been a little crazy but one thing I love to do -- when I'm driving on nights where there is a full moon, I love to roll down all the windows and turn off my headlights and drive fast down country roads.

    As far as writing, my favorite place to write is on our screened side porch. I get up early, put on a pot of coffe, play soft classical music on the stereo (I have speakers on the porch), I turn on the ceiling fan, and let inspiration wash over me like the incoming ocean tide.....but that's just me:)

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  35. @Life101... if you did that where I live, you'd hit a deer.

    I agree that it's important to keep an open mind when writing... at every stage. Reading different genres is important, too. I used to stick to one or two genres but every one can lend insight. And some are just plain fun.

    You can check out my sister-site book review blog here: http://blackbirdbookreviews.wordpress.com

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  36. "driving with the windows down"

    Clearly you do not live in Baton Rouge, LA. Also I truly do enjoy my girlfriend's children but to say I am sad about them going back to school would be...what do you call those...oh yeah a lie.

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  37. Holy heat index! I HAVE to drive with windows up in GA. BUT, I write with windows open. (Kinda learned that lesson the hard way. :-)

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  38. Open windows but only when I have a hair clip. :-) I'm both excited and sad the kids are going to school.

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  39. Funny, Utah usually has super hot summers too. This year's been different though.
    Life 101: sounds fun to me! :)

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  40. Hey, I'm back again. I just wanted to let you know that I left you something on my blog today. You don't have to read the whole post, just scroll down to where you see your name. And you're under no obligation either. Just wanted to give you a shout out for being a great follower and commenter.

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  42. I am SO sad summer is almost over and the kids are heading back to school. Oh my word, I'm getting all teary just writing that! I wake up in the mornings with a terrible feeling because it's so close to them going back. They're gone SO long on school days - I love all the time they're home in the summer that I get to be with them.

    I love sitting out on my back deck - writing, reading, hanging out with the kids, enjoying the mountains, thunderstorms, etc. There's almost always a breeze and I love it. There's just something about the wind blowing to make things feel exciting and alive and to make me feel a part of everything wonderful!

    I plot some and let the breeze blow through my writing whenever it wants to. Sometimes it's a soft sweet breeze, sometimes chilly and harsh, sometimes startling and lit by lightning. Letting the breezes blow through the deck of my writing enriches my stories immensely.

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  43. Now I drive with my windows down all the time, because I love the fresh air. I am depressed that the kids are not in school already. Love them to death but they need to go back...

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  44. krispy kremes and good writing - amen to that.

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  45. hello. its a nice share. regards from indonesia.

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