Tag Archives: editing

Planking and Editing: Discipline Through Exercise

Who knew that planking and editing have their similarities?

I didn’t, at least not until I added the former to my exercise regime.   After four babies wreaked havoc on my lower lumbar system, I’m always on the lookout for anything to keep my back muscles strong.  Enter planking, that horrible exercise invented by the devil himself (after he thought up wall sits).  If anyone has been able to do a plank for a full two minutes their very first time, they have my undying respect (as it is, three weeks in, I am up to a minute thirty).  Planking is work, it’s grueling, but it’s definitely effective.   Within just a few days I noticed a sense of overall physical strength and – bonus! – the arms I inherited from my grandma have never looked better.

If planking was invented by the devil, then I’m pretty sure editing was invented by his archangel.  Editing is work, it’s grueling, but it’s definitely effective. The discipline involved is not unlike the focus it takes to keep upright on arms and toes for one hundred twenty seconds. It takes focus.  It takes a will of mind that can only be activated by one’s own choosing.  Think of those beautiful passages, full of poetic prose, close to your writer’s heart because, damn, who have you ever read that compares the sunrise to the opening of a sunflower with color descriptions that would make Robert Frost cry?  During the editing process, its those precious paragraphs that must be excised.  Taken out.  Highlight, ctrl x. They don’t belong no matter how many minutes you spent finding the terms for differing shades of yellow and orange.  This is the kind of discipline editing requires (similar to planking) where focus is paramount for a successful outcome, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.   That lean, streamlined, strong manuscript you submit to your publisher is the reward – not to mention the overall strength you’ll acquire as a writer (bonus!).

Editing is one of those things that we don’t necessarily dream about when first committing to a writing career.  We envision our name on the best seller list or at the bottom of a book cover.  We are excited to get that story out of our heads, give it life, and make it breath for our readers. But few of us realize the discipline involved with the editing process until the first work is done and we begin to cut, paste, and delete. It’s tempting to be generous to ourselves and our cherished prose, but we must enforce strict self-control in order to achieve the strongest possible outcome.

Have a great week kids, write something, and here’s to discipline – on and off the page.

Yours, Frankie


What’s Your Element?

One of my favorite things to do is watch someone in their element, doing what they love most to do.

I had a dog whose element was swimming.  She would swim for up to an hour at a time.  On a few occasions I worried that she’d cross the small lake we frequented, come out on the other side and wonder where I was!  She was happy though, oblivious to the family she left on the shore, and content to paddle along without any direction in mind. I couldn’t help but marvel as I watched her in her element, doing what she obviously enjoyed most.

I have a son whose element is on the gridiron.  Since he was eight, something happened whenever he put on his pads andcamp2 helmet and stepped on the green field. The gentle boy with a wont to please disappeared; replaced by a fierce competitor that took this mother a couple of years to get to know.  He’s a junior in high school this fall, playing starting defense and his passion has only increased.  Over the years I’ve watched him discipline himself to go on early morning runs, hit the gym in the off season and during summer break, and absorb the stories of his heroes on “A Football Life.”  Tonight we kickoff the season with the traditional scrimmage and as I sit in the stands and watch him play, I’ll do so knowing he’s happy to finally be competing, content in the challenge to do his best and lead his team. Completely in his element.

For some of us, writing is our element.  Tucked away from the world in order to create an imaginary world for others, we spend countless moments absorbed in a thesaurus or staring out the window in search of just the right words and phrase.  As grueling and demanding as the process of editing is, we find immense satisfaction in the activity of creating the perfect sentence (I am thankful to live in the computer age. There’s something seductive about highlighting a group of words, capturing them with my mouse, and moving them. Poof!  Magically the sentence I struggled with now reads and flows with elegance.  It’s like Lego’s with words!).  We writers are never happier than when we are agonizing over vocabulary or the structure of our next work, because we are in our element.

But what if you aren’t in your element?  What if you aren’t doing what you love to do and what you are passionate about? Then I challenge you to make a change. Life’s too short kids!

Yours,

Frankie