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August 2018: Writing Advice
~ Kathy Otten ~

CTR asked:
QUESTION: What is the one piece of writing advice that has stuck with you and why? (Something other than ‘write what you know.’)

Kathy Otten said:
It’s okay to write crap.

I don’t mean write a story and slap it up on Amazon without revising and editing. Writing crap is about giving yourself permission not to be perfect. Allow the creative side of your brain a chance to flourish before it must eventually switch into its critical, analytical side.

I sometimes have difficulty letting my mind take an idea and go. I like my drawers neatly arranged, my counters free of clutter, and my day organized by lists. When I write, if I see a word is misspelled, I have a compulsion to go back and fix it. A sentence with a dangling modifier must be tweaked to make sense. I cut and paste, and cut and paste. When I look back after an hour, I usually discover I haven’t written anything new. And what’s worse, is that scene may very well be cut by the end of the story.

Write crap. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense. Sometimes thoughts are half formed, too many details about a scene fill the page, and plot points are out of order or not fully formed. Time might be spent writing random scenes; getting to know the character: what makes them laugh, what they like or dislike, what they fear.

Stephen King said once that the good stuff will stay. It’s like putting ideas in a strainer and shaking. The small bits will fall through, but the good stuff is what’s left.

Don’t let the blank page or screen intimidate you when you sit down with an idea. Let the creative side take over. Write crap. It’s okay, because the good stuff will stay.


A Place In Your Heart by Kathy Otten cover

A Place In Your Heart

[Historical Romance]

Gracie McBride isn’t looking for love; she’s looking for respect. But in this man’s world of Civil War medicine, Gracie is expected to maintain her place changing beds and writing letters. Her biggest nemesis is the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard, who seems determined to woo her with arrogant kisses and terrible jokes.

Charles is an excellent surgeon. He assumed he would be well received by an army at war. He was not. Friendless and alone, he struggles to hide the panic attacks that plague him, while the only person who understands him is a feisty Irish nurse clearly resolved to keep him at a distance.

But, Charles is sent to the battlefield, and Gracie is left with a wounded soldier, a box of toys, and a mystery which can only be solved by the one man she wishes could love her, both as a woman and a nurse.

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