Preparing to enter the Monastery as a Writer Monk


I haven’t posted that much about the Holly Lisle How to Revise your Novel course here lately, but I’ve been continuing to work away at it, a little every week. I’m getting very excited about it now – I started lesson nine, the last stage in figuring out what’s good and what’s missing in the current draft, yesterday evening at quarter after eight. I had finished the last exercise by the time I got to work at quarter after eight in the morning today!

I’ve now read through the worksheets for lesson ten up to the point where she says to not read ahead further until I’ve finished an exercise. Lesson ten is about making your plan for major surgery on the book, now that triage is done.

And wow, what an incredible, exciting, scary, intimidating exercise it is!

Holly calls this part ‘The Monastery’, and you’re supposed to leave everything behind except your awareness, deep down, of what kind of book you want your writing to become, a cheat sheet of her big promises that every writer is making to his or her readers, and something to scribble on. (Since I hate using pens, I’m going to venture into the Monastery with an Alphasmart instead of pen and paper.)

No copy of my manuscript. None of the notes or exercises that I’ve spent the past three months working on. No discussion with other writers, or complaining on my blog. Ideally, no television, talking to family, or surfing the web for anything.

And in the monastery, I will write out a new synopsis for my book, one sentence per scene, that will fix all of the problems I’ve spotted with the old draft and bring out all the hidden potential that I see in it.

“You do not speak about writing. You do not read about writing. You become writing, and you simply write.”

I don’t think I’m quite ready to face the monastery yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

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5 Responses to Preparing to enter the Monastery as a Writer Monk

  1. avatar139 says:

    Well, that certainly explains why I haven’t seen you on IM recently! ;)

  2. Kitty says:

    Wow! This really does sound like a major challenge! Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

  3. Chris! A blogging mission, should you choose to accept it!

    Day 1: Wednesday March 7: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.

    Day 2: Thursday March 8: Nine things about yourself that might surprise people who think they know you.

    Day 3: Friday March 9: Eight people who mean a lot to you and why (in no particular order).

    Day 4: Saturday March 10: List your “desert island” top 20 music albums, or whatever number works for you, preferably in order! Should anthologies qualify? You decide.

    Day 5: Sunday March 11: You win five million in the lottery. How, specifically, do you spend (or save) each dollar?

    Day 6: Monday March 12: Seven things that often cross your mind.

    Day 7: Tuesday March 13: Six things you wish you’d never done.

    Day 8: Wednesday March 14: Five ways to win your heart.

    Day 9: Thursday March 15: Four turn-ons (interpret as you wish).

    Day 10: Friday March 16: Three turn-offs.

    Day 11: Saturday March 17: Build your dream home. Describe it room by room.

    Day 12: Sunday March 18: Describe your ultimate perfect weekend from Friday night through Sunday.

    Day 13: Monday March 19: Two images that describe your life right now and why

    Day 14: Tuesday March 20: One confession.

  4. Trisha says:

    This sounds like it could be a very satisfying exercise!

  5. Wow, Chris. The monastery is intense! From this and what you’ve described elsewhere, I’m impressed with the revision course.

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