Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wed. & Writing: Scheibl Says

Way back in April, author Mary Jo Scheibl came to our local RWA meeting to share things that helped her on her journey to publication and still help her even now. I loved the way she just kind of talked about things like they were second nature to her, but more than that she was very honest and still encouraging with real world advice. She's given me permission to share with you the information she gave us. Mary gave an hour and a half conversation so I'm obviously not going to be able to put everything here, but I'm going to highlight the points that helped me.  But you can learn more about her and her work here or here.

The first thing that really resonated with me isn't even on her list, but it's a quote I love. "You're good no one unless you're good to yourself." Since I heard that I've made an effort to be easier on myself when I miss a blogpost or get behind on something trying to live life.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

She suggested taking an inventory of what you're good at and what you're not, and maybe soliciting your CP's help with this. I loved this, because I solicited my cp's help and it turns out I'm good at more things than I knew. However, the things I'm bad at I'm REALLY bad at. Mary Jo suggested that you pick one thing to improve on as you right your next WIP. Write it on a note card and tape it to your computer or keep it on your desk, so you can focus on that one thing, improve that one thing.

Introductions/Getting Stuck

Mary Jo actually made these two separate points, but I feel comfortable combining them here, because I think you deal with them essentially the same way. She said if you don't know where to start your book, start with the very next thing that happens. That's usually the right place to start anyhow. For getting stuck she recommends leaving it but not forgetting it.

A year ago, I was so stuck that I was essentially writing two different books at once just to see where the plot was going to go. Another published writer told me each day they wrote only what they were interested in. I tried this. It worked. At this point, it's pretty much how I roll. But I think this is essentially what she's saying. You don't know where the book starts? So what. Move on and write the parts you can. You got stuck? So what. Move on and write what you can.

Writing is hard work.

Enough said. And editing is even harder work. I think we all need to remember this sometimes.

Trust your talent and skill, but look at others to see what they do and how they do it.

You might find a tool to make something easier for yourself, or help you improve on an area of craft you're weak at.


I haven't mastered this one yet. Rejection hurts, especially when you've worked so hard on something. I guess the main point here is you have to know it's something we all suffer through and isn't any reflection on you or your ability.

Writing is a process:

  • come up w/ idea

  • think about story, characters, etc.

  • research

  • write rough draft

  • revise and it again, and again, and again

Writer's Block:

There is no such thing. You haven't thought about it enough. You don't know the characters well enough, or you haven't slept on it enough.


This is one I really need to remember.

Volunteer--It's the best way to network.


"I started getting really serious about my writing in 1986 and got published for the first time in 2009." Wow. I think that was the most impressive thing I heard all day. It gave me inspiration, and I thought anyone who can play this game that long deserves to be published.

Pulling It All Together

  • Don't let your self be idle for too long. Keep writing.

  • Trust your talent and instincts.

  • Change up these tips to best fit you and your writing style.


  1. I love the advice to compete with yourself and not others. That's so important to remember. It's all too easy to compare yourself to other writers, but it will only drive you crazy. Each writer has a different path and you shouldn't measure yourself against someone else's path.

  2. Good post, thanks. Yeah, sometimes it's hard to jump beyond a sticking point. Occasionally I just stick a story in a drawer somewhere and fish it out later for a fresh look.

  3. Great post! I always try my best to keep going until I finish.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  4. I love that you said there's no such thing as writer's block! If you don't know what to write, you're not on the right track. Backtrack!
    Great post from beginning to end!

  5. I'm glad you like the post, but Mary Jo said there is no such thing as writer's block. I cannot take the credit! ;)

  6. Wow, so many great tips! I think the one that resonated the most with me is at the end - don't let yourself be idle for too long. I fell into that trap this month and I am having a terrible time getting back into writing regularly again!

  7. That was just the advice I needed right now. Thanks for sharing and paraphrasing.