Karen Jordan

My Writing Life: Taking Chances, Making Mistakes, and Getting Messy


Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!  (Ms. Frizzle, Magic School Bus)

I’ve always lived up to Miss Frizzle’s teachings, even before I became a writer. So this is one of my favorite writing quotes.

I still have mud on my face at times, and my clothes get twisted on occasion. And at times, I wander off to a place that I never intended to go in my writing and other areas of my life. Good? Bad? Ugly? Yes, all of those.

My typical day as a writer includes many distractions–that seems to be my biggest hurdle. Goals, deadlines, and “to do” lists help. But I’m not even going to try to impress you with some regimented schedule. Anyway, I write nonfiction, not fiction.

Take chances. Yes, I take chances with my writing every day. Just take a look at my blog if you need some proof of that statement. Some ideas work, but many don’t work at all.

I believe the creative process requires taking chances. How will I know if some ideas will work or not, unless I take the chance and try?

Make mistakes. I think mistakes should be included as part of the writing process. And after a lot of my brainstorming, research, thinking, and re-thinking, my first drafts usually look like my youngest grandson, Ben (fondly referred to as Benzilla), attacked them with a red pen.

Get messy. Yes, I’m still messy. Maybe Benzilla takes after his Nonnie. You think?

My mother would NOT be proud of my office space. At times, I can still hear her fussing at me to get organized. But when that happens, I just close the door and take my laptop to my screened-in front porch. I would post a picture of my office, but that would be too humiliating at this point. 

I love how author Donald Miller describes a typical day as a writer.

Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more. (Donald MillerBlue Like Jazz).

What is your favorite quote or tip for writers? 



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