Posted by: nancyisanders | November 11, 2010

Welcome to My World: Mini-Retreat

In my writer’s notebook for the new book deadline I’m starting to write for, I include a section for highlights.

The journey of writing a book can have many tedious days with hours sitting alone at the computer. There can be lengthy self-editing sessions and time-consuming revisions per the publisher’s request. There can be discouraging brick walls or dead-ends after days of research.

I’ve found that it’s important to really keep track of the highlights of the journey I take with a book so that at times like that, I can pull out my notebook, read through the exciting times, and get recharged to move forward again.

So I like to include a section called Highlights. Little did I know when I added that to my notebook that already I would have something to put in it!

The second day of writing was definitely one of the highlights of the journey. Here’s what happened:

I wanted to make the first page of the book COUNT. I want it to really draw the reader in and give a POW! and POP! and make the reader go “OH!” and “AH!” and want to read more.

So I worked on the first page. And worked and reworked and reworked it until I was feeling pretty good about those first 3 paragraphs.

But in this book, there also has to be a full page image facing that first page.

And I wanted that image to carry all the same effect.

This image, out of the entire rest of the book, has to have that PIZZAZZ factor.

So on the second day of writing, I opened up the image files I took of the 1500 photographs I took when my husband Jeff and I went on a 2-week research trip this summer for this book. I scrolled through lots of photographs…and they were nice…but they were all ordinary pictures for the middle of the book.

And then I saw it. THE PICTURE. It was UNIQUE! It was perfect quality! (That in itself is amazing considering my photography skills.) It was OVER-THE TOP fantabulous!!!!!!

I remembered how I got that picture. We were lost in a city we hadn’t planned on our trip, but since someone had canceled an appointment we’d had in a different city, we went there instead. We spotted this huge mural on the side of a brick building in a seedy part of town. It was rainy and windy and blustery weather. Jeff stopped the car, I hopped out, took 2 quick photographs of the wall, cars in the parking lot and all, and jumped back in the car.

I even forgot about taking that picture.

Until now. I saw that picture and knew I’d found the treasure I’d been needing to start the first page of the first chapter of the book.

That is definitely one of the highlights of this project, so I journaled all about it and put it in my writer’s notebook.

How about you? Have you ever created a writer’s notebook? If not, make one today for that manuscript that is near and dear to your heart. Chronicle the journey you take with it. What a treasure you’ll have! And your manuscript will be all the better for it.


  1. Hi Nancy,

    I love your tips about how to revise your first page until you’re happy with it. Many writers aren’t as patient as you. And this can really create difficulties for them in the long run.

    I also love your idea of a mini-retreat. I will have to create those times for myself too while I write.


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