RTW – The Evil Blue Pencil Lady as Writing Coach

I got the nickname “Evil Blue Pencil Lady” from my kids back when I was homeschooling them. It wasn’t that I was a meanie when I would edit their work (I critiqued the writer and not the person), but I was a pretty strict coach. As a consequence, both my boys are excellent writers, my older son Eric as a novelist and my younger son Ryan as an economist.

Since those days, I’ve coached many writers, giving them feedback on their manuscripts, synopses, or query letters. I’m not much of an Oreo coach–say something positive, point out a problem, finish with something positive. Instead, I’m a problem-solver. I get in there and untangle what’s not working for me and suggest ways to make it work.

So, if you’re NaNoWriMoing, my encouragement will probably not be gentle. You want to whine at me? Whine all you like, but it won’t change the fact that the words need to go on the page. Too tired, too sad, too uninspired? Then write some tired, sad, uninspired words. Just get them on the page and later you can fix them. As Nora Roberts so succinctly said, I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page. Nothing you put on that page is set in stone. You have complete freedom to write crap and later transform it into beauty.

So, yeah, I’d be demanding you run laps despite that sore ankle. And I’ll also be the first one doing the Snoopy dance of joy when you get The Call. Because I believe in you. And I know you can do it.

So get writing.

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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4 Responses to RTW – The Evil Blue Pencil Lady as Writing Coach

  1. Colin says:

    “I critiqued the writer and not the person”–that’s absolutely how I feel when my work is being critiqued. It’s not me they’re critiquing, it’s my writing and my work as a writer. And that’s fine. That Nora Roberts quotes a keeper too. Thanks! 🙂

  2. kate scott says:

    I like your evil blue pencil approach. The whole point of a critique is to dish out some constructive critisism. “I liked it” is just a waste of everyones time.

  3. bec says:

    Constructive is the key. Sounds like you have it nailed with offering suggestions to solve the problem. hate it when someone says ‘this doesn’t work’ but can’t even hint as to why!

    • karensandler says:

      I agree, it’s so frustrating when the critique is vague. I can’t always pinpoint a problem, but I do my best to do so. It helps that I’ve had lots of editorial & agent feedback over the years on my work so I’ve learned what they’re looking for.

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