In my latest draft I have been writing SECRETS to myself in CAPS LOCK. They are lazy secrets, codes to be filled in later. For example:
“Jillian was the last to sit down on the picnic blanket. SETTING. She raised her head slowly to look at Mea, who was pouring maple syrup on everyone’s pancakes but her own.”

Of course I don’t have time to describe the setting. I’m writing a story here.

This is the current stage of editing I’m in. It’s called CAPS LOCK editing. It involves combing through with a pretty wide tooth comb with the intention of making the plot of my book make sense. Action must be motivated by a previous action. Everyone must want something. Everything must involve tension and suspense. Show things, stop whining about them.

Because I’m focused on plot, I brush over spelling mistakes and blaring inconsistencies in people’s occupations and appearances because if I worry about that now then my plot might fall apart again. It’s being held together by fine lines of bossy CAPS LOCK.

For example, following the previous segment where Mea pours syrup on pancakes, I write: WHAT HAPPENS AT BREAKFAST IS VERY SIGNIFICANT

If, in another chapter, Nye shouldn’t have done something right then, I say NOT WHAT NYE WOULD DO.

And when it isn’t clear why Jillian doesn’t want to go to Cape Breton, I say WHY DOESN’T JILLIAN WANT TO GO TO CAPE BRETON? And I try, not very hard, to answer it in further lines of Caps Lock. Sometimes I go for a run and think about it (really I did that for the first time today).

I hope I will return to the beginning of my story once I am done this draft with a lot of energy to integrate these frightening notes and questions into my story (in minuscule letters). And hopefully the plot will be ready for it. Once I have my plot all rehashed and ready to go, then I am pretty sure the nuances of the significance of the breakfast picnic, what the scenery looked like and whether Nye was a computer software programmer or an artist will be clear.

Then it will be time to just add in cute details and make my writing readable. And then do another draft where the details are more than cute, they’re sophisticated, and the writing is actually good. And then one more draft, where angels falls from the sky to write on my behalf.

Top Ten-ish Writing Exercises

1. Start things. Don’t finish them because these are exercises.

2. Make fun of everything. Be serious about everything. Then try and just go in between.

3. Read a dictionary backwards. Try new things for once.

4. Shake a box and in it have all these suggestions. Never pick one.

5. Read so many books about writing that you can write about writing but nothing else.

6. Go live somewhere.

7. Write in a different language. Don’t know one? Make one up. We’re just trying to get you to use letters here.

8. Staple words together. Paperclip like ideas. Don’t do anything with any of it, but admire the organization.

9. Sit and sit for so long that you get the feeling of writer’s block. This way you can talk about it with conviction.

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a...