Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Garuanteed Worst Advice and Best Advice on Writing

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When I saw Charlotte Rains Dixon's prompt for January 16 in her new book, I was off to the races. Words flowed out and I saw that I needed to share my thoughts on the Worst Advice and the Best Advice I've been giving. For some reason, both centered on writing. Are you surprised? ;-)

Source

The Worst Advice I've received about writing is easy. Truly, how lame is "Write what you know"? As if research wasn't invented way back when the first scribe wrote out the first records in mud tablets with a sharpened stick? We've kept records, recorded stories, and shared them all ever since then.

And the advice wants to limit me to a finite number of things that I've been able to cram into my head through experience? Bah! I have far better things to learn yet. And, let's be honest, as long as I can learn, I can write about things I don't know--yet.

The Best Advice is easy too. It's Read, Read, Read; Write, Write, Write; Re-write, Re-write, Rewrite! All of this is one piece of advice really. That is Work With WORDS. Glorious words are the building blocks of every thought, every story, every invention, every discovery. Without words, our minds can't organize, can't create, can't fulfill its purpose.

Here's where I'll get very personal. We were created in God's image to create. And He gave us the building blocks for everything when He made us able to use words. 

So, go forth and multiply the words of the world. Read, read, read! Write, Write, Write! Re-write, Re-write, Rewrite!

Next Week: I'll post the February Tip!

Update: MOTHER'S DAY is complete! The story is ready to polish (re-write) and, hopefully, share soon.

101 comments:

  1. Oh yes, good advice that. I've got into the habit of saying, "Write first, edit later, do not skip steps." :) Plus, I've found that few things are better at inspiring a good writing spell than a good reading spell.

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  2. "Write what you know" is by far the worst advice. Where does that leave the imagination? Fiction isn't worth a darn unless it engages readers' imaginations. And to do that, it must be written with imagination.

    I would add that getting feedback is just as important as READ! READ! READ! I cannot put one above the other. The feedback is an often-overlooked and very important part of the writing process.

    Do keep blogging, and have a ton of best wishes from me :-)

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  3. I've never agreed with 'write what you know' either. Sure, I use my own experiences and emotional reactions in my work, but how boring would it be if I only wrote about stuff I know first hand? Blerg!

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  4. Hahaha, that advice is LAMO! You're write about God giving us the building blocks to write too. He's the Creator of EVERYTHING! I truly enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for writing it. Glorious words! YEAH! Happy Blitz Day!

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  5. I've heard so many variants on 'write what you know': 'write what you don't know about what you know' is possibly among the most useful. I think. Mind you, I'm not sure I even know what that means.
    Happy blitz day!

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  6. Amen! Our ability to write is a gift from God.
    Happy Blitz day!

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  7. I find advice to be a little like picking a perfect mellon at the supermarket. Careful inspection, squeezing, a solid thumping, doesn't always yield success. It's only when you take it home and cut it open will you find out if its ripe enough for you. Excellent topic!

    Oh...BTW...you're being BLITZED! Enjoy! :)

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  8. Reading and writing is definitely the best advice. It's the most fun too.

    Happy blitz day!

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  9. So true about writing being a gift. Happy Blitz Day!

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  10. Writing only what we know is so limiting.

    Happy Blitz day.

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  11. Happy Blitz Day!

    And yeah, the write what you know, bit, always rubbed me the wrong way, too

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  12. Happy blitz day! Enjoy! While I enjoy you nugget of wisdom about writing.
    Thanks.

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  13. If writers only wrote what they knew, there would be no fantasy, no science-fiction, little horror, and little historical fiction. Anything that is beyond the writer's personal experience is "unknown" at some level, and would be out of bounds for creative writing. How dull and limiting that perspective is.

    "Write what interests you!" is MUCH better advice.

    But your second bit of advice is spot-on! It's the ol' "Butt-in-the-chair" form of forced creativity -- writers write!

    Happy Blitz Day!!!

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  14. Write not what you know, but what you want to know.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  15. Yes, I agree on your picks, absolutely!

    Happy blitz day!

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  16. It's amazing how the right writing prompt can take you in amazing directions. I'm with you on the old "Write what you know," adage. What a boring place idea.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  17. True words! Excellent advice. Happy Blitz Day!

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  18. Worlds are amazing things. I totally agree that our desire to create is part of the being created in His image. He created a universe with words. Jesus was the word before He was flesh. It's pretty obvious- words are power.

    Happy Blitz!

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  19. Wow! I've been Blitzed! :-D
    Oh, what lovely comments, you've all added. I'll get back to you each on your blogs in a day or two.

    And thanks, D.L. for the blitz idea. You rock!

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  20. Yup, my favorite has always been to just immerse myself in words! They're so wonderful :)
    Happy Blitz Day!

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  21. I think it is far more important to write what inspires us rather than what we already know. Life is a journey of discovery and knowledge so why constrain ourselves.

    Happy Blog Blitz Day, nice to meet you.

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  22. Happy Blitz Day! I love that you love words.

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  23. Good post! The only thing I'd disagree with (slightly) is your admonition against "write what you know." I absolutely agree that we should allow our imaginations to soar with the angels when creating fiction, BUT I also think it's a bad idea for a writer to play too freely, loosely, and lazily with known facts. A little bit of research into subjects an author merely "thinks" she knows can prevent a lot of embarrassing errors. There's no excuse for blatant historical errors in an historical novel or a preventable scientific faux pas in a techno-thriller. Unless it's speculative fiction; then I reckon just about anything goes.

    Anyhow, nice to meet you. (Honest, I'm not always this contrary!) How ya feeling? A little woozy, maybe? You should, because you, my dear, are getting BLITZED today! Enjoy!

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  24. I'll take your advice because I live reading and I love writing even more:)
    Happy Blitz Day!

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  25. Research definitely adds depth to any story. Happy Blitz Day!!

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  26. Reading is what led me to writing. Still love to read today. Happy Blitz Day! Enjoy.

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  27. I agree on both! Happy Blitz!

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  28. Hi, read yes, re-write yes, it's that bit in the middle I struggle finding time for lol!
    Happy blitz day :)
    xx

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  29. I still agree with "write what you know". If we write what we don't know, it almost always shows in the writing. Of course what we know includes what we learn about something we don't know (research) and imagination and creativity but it is all based on what we know and what we feel and think and even on what we wish for.

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  30. I never interpreted that advice as a negative.

    I think there is pressure for authors to write what is popular or money-making.

    In my opinion, writing for yourself makes for a better story, hence, write what you know. Write what you love.

    BAZINGA!
    You've been blitzed!
    Have a great day!
    Heather

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  31. I agree on both accounts. With research and especially with search engines we can know just about anything--even whether it's true or not! The whole point of research is to learn things or gather data and then you know.

    Happy Blitz Day!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  32. "Write what you know" is a vague statement and can be interpreted in many ways. I saw it as writing in a genre I knew and loved. I don't love epic fantasy, so I certainly wouldn't want to write about that. I think it's good advice for a beginner to help them get started. Baby steps.

    But "read, read, read"? Oh yeah. Reading is what fuels me. I'm still baffled at some writers who don't like to read. Why are you writing then? I just don't understand.

    By the way, Happy Blitz Day!

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  33. I see "write what you know" as more useless advice than bad advice, because once you research something (or make something up) you know it. I write what I know--I write about people. I write Sci-fi and fantasy because that's what I know. If you keep it extremely general, the advice works. Sort-of.

    You've been blitzed!

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  34. I never thought that writing outside my comfort zone would yield one of my favorite (and possibly best) things I've ever written. There's a lot to be said about not writing what you know. Happy Blitz Day!

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  35. Wow! So many comments! I love it! ;-)

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  36. Write what you know-- then how would one create a fantasy world. Imagination goes a long way in writing.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  37. Yes! Great points! Work with words! And create because it's part of how we are knit together with God! :)
    Happy Blitz Day!

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  38. Most writing advice is too simplified and too one-size-fits-all to actually be useful, I'm finding. Even the advice to read isn't specific enough--you have to read like a writer, analyzing what the author did to get the effect she got.

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  39. My head is still spinning from all this attention! I'm trying to get by all your blogs. Bear with me. ;-)

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  40. Very good advice

    Happy Blitz Day :)

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  41. Happy Blitz Day! Great to meet you!

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  42. So very true about the advice. And I love to read anyway!

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  43. All too often, I try to skip that re-write step... ;)

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  44. That is super advise. Happy Blitz Day to you.

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  45. Great advice, Zan. I've written plenty about what I didn't know, aided by research and picking people's brains.

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  46. I agree that "write what you know" is lame advice! As if nobody has an imagination! I wrote about PTSD in a military vet and I had no idea about the military before I sat down to write a story I suddenly had an urge to tell.

    Read, write and imagine, is the advice I'd give :)

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  47. I'm with you on that. I've heard it said, read and read some more, then write. I agree that's really good advice. Certainly, writing gets me all wound up to write. Suddenly I just can't wait to put my fingers on those keys. Great post!

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  48. I've actually written a lot of stories based off what I know, but then again I tend to know more than I should know about things without doing research. ;)

    Happy Blitz Day!!

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  49. Writing what you know can get you somewhere, but it's rather limited. I find that research creates a much broader world to write in, and my own experiences can enrich certain aspects of what I write from there. The combination works okay for me so far.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  50. I write about what I don't know. I would be very limited if I followed that advice.

    Happy Blitz Day.

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  51. Wow!! Some great advise!! Happy blitz day!!

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  52. Hello, thank you for sharing! Congrats on Mother's Day!!
    Nice to meet you and Happy Blitz Day~

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  53. Happy Blitz Day!!

    I agree with you--it's being made in God's image that making creating so wonderful. I get an inkling of what it is to create something that has never existed before.

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  54. I think my love for writing was born from my love to reading. Good advice. Happy blitz day!

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  55. I agree that "Write what you know." leaves out all the people who love research. Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. I love learning new things!

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  56. I'm with you - there is always research with so much information accessible to anyone.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  57. I have always considered anything researched as writing what you know.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  58. Words, glorious words!

    Writing about things we don't know is the best way to learn. I can't say I stray terribly far from what I kind of sort of know, but it would be wicked boring to not jump outside my comfort zone at all.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  59. Happy Blitz Day!

    I've always thought "write what you know" to be more of a jumping off point. Meaning closer to "write what you know... better than or more about than others." Like the experiences we have are the portal to our voice. And, more important, we leak out written emotion based on the ones we've experienced or witnessed. I don't know, that's just how I took it to mean.

    Totally agree with the reading, writing, and re-writing though.

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  60. Hi Zan, looks like we are the Blitzees this week. Yes we are created in God's image. I remember as a kid the saying, "God don't make no junk."

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  61. Happy Blitz Day, Z! Love the title of your blog; it's so homey! :O) And that picture of the cherries make my mouth water (and I normally don't care too much for them)!

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  62. If we only write what we know, how would we ever get any fantasy, science fiction, mystery, or adventure? Worst advice ever!

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  63. Happy Blitz Day!
    I don't think there's anything wrong with "write what you know", as long as you don't limit yourself to that. Am totally familiar with the "re-write, re-write, re-write" mantra - I drive myself nuts with it! At some point, one has to be satisfied, or, perhaps not?
    This is my first Blitz. Nice to meet you! ☺

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  64. For a blogger like me who has recently started writing this was a great piece of advice. Writing beyond what I know is surely a good way to stretch myself and learn new stuff.
    Happy Blitz day!!!

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  65. Advice and rules fall into the same category for me. Listen. Consider. Ignore or Break.

    Happy Blitz Day to you.

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  66. My mother used to try to get me to write what I knew, but finally realized I wasn't going to start writing contemporary stories and abandon historical. I agree that writing is another way to be fruitful and multiply. Even if I'm never blessed with children, I'll have my writing to point to as proof that I was fruitful and multiplied.

    Happy Blitz Day!

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  67. Interesting. I always interpreted write what you know to non-fiction and assumed it included research. I just thought it referred to not making up "facts". Either way, your good advice is the best advice.

    Happy Blitz Day

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  68. Happy Blitz Day! I love your honest advice. A lot of times I can be critical when I start a new written so now I just write without thinking! ;)

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  69. Hi, happy Blitz Day. By the way, I host a Literacy Musing Mondays on my blog: www.maryanderingcreatively.com Would love to have you stop by and linkup. Thanks.

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  70. Found my way here through the blitz and happy I did, I love what you've said and wholeheartedly agree 😉

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  71. Zan Marie,

    Diana has always said, "If you want to write, read." I live by those words, quite joyously. :0)

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  72. The best advice I ever got was write every day.

    On this day though have a Great Blitz Day!

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  73. Great post! Sometimes there is so much conflicting writing advice out there, we'd all be better off just hunkering down to read read read and write write write! Happy blitz day!

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  74. What a wonderful post for a 'Blitz'. The Best/Worst Advice - I love it.

    Nice to meet you and I hope you're enjoying your day as much as I enjoyed your post.

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  75. Well, I'm late to the party again. Took a couple of wrong turns, but I'm here and glad to have taken the time to mosey around your blog. Nice.

    I've gotta say, I've always told stories...then again, my love of reading also fostered the desire to tell stories. Which came first? the Chicken or the egg. *shrugs*

    I agree, we were created with the desire to create things and in so many forms. Storytelling is one such thing. All those wonderful worlds and people all created by rich imaginations. Pretty cool.

    Write what you know...it's good in some ways especially starting out but don't let it limit you. But research can validate those splashes of imagination that take a writer beyond the boundaries of their home solar system. It stretches you. Right now I'm working on a story that makes me feel like the dude in the Fantasic Four who is all stretch. Hopefully, I'll retain my shape when it's done, lol!

    Enjoyed your article and your blog. :-)

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  76. Fabulous advice! Writing what you know only gets you so far. I love researching.

    Btw, you've been BLITZED! I hope you enjoy every minute of it. Have a wonderful night. Nice to 'meet' you. Eva

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  77. You get a Double Blitzing from me today!! It's Eva again blitzing you from my sister site, heehee.

    You are going to have a lot of water to mop up once the melted snowballs of comments are done!

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  78. Go forth and multiply the words of the world... I love this!
    Happy Blog Blitz Day!!
    Writer In Transit

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  79. Great points! We can all write about the things we are willing to learn about. And yes, read, write, re-write... that's the key. Happy Blitz Day! :D

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  80. Just wishing you a Happy Blitz Day!

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  81. Happy belated blitz day!
    I like the idea of being what Tolkien calls a subcreator :-)

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  82. Fantastic best AND worst advice. And how perfect for your blitz day! Thanks so much.

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  83. Writing what you know may be a good stepping off point, but it shouldn't be the be all-end all. You can't expect to grow as a person or a writer if you remain stagnant. Reading and learning is excellent advice!

    Happy (belated) blitz day!

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  84. This post has clearly struck a chord! I love all the comments. And I agree, "write what you know" is lousy advice. I like "write what interests you" much better, as another commenter said.

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  85. I totally agree that "write what you know" is probably the worst writing advice I've heard. I'm with the above comments that writing what interests you is much better advice. Happy blitz day!

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  86. I'm good with the read, read, read and getting better at the write, write, write.

    Happy belated blog blitz!

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  87. Nothing beats research and I love to read! :)
    Sorry I'm a little late for your Blitz Day!

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  88. That sure is a lot of comments. Very good post, though. It deserves every one. You are a great motivator!

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  89. Thanks, Sara! And Charlotte, you inspired it. ;-)

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  90. Great advice! Happy bloated Blitz Day!

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  91. Great advice! Happy bloated Blitz Day!

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  92. So true. And the problem is what we know changes with time, zones and people. We need to read, read and read - to get the complete picture.

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  93. Just saw your update, and I had to laugh. I found "Mothers Day" earlier this week--I haven't written on it in years, but I nearly doubled my word count.

    Keep writing!

    Lauren

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