Welcome to week nine of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
Today it is my sincere pleasure to feature writing advice from my dear friend Keely Flynn. I’ve known Keely for many years and she has brought endless joy to my life. As a writer, Keely wears many hats, including serving as the arts columnist for Chicago Parent Magazine (and their sister publications) and writing her amazing blog, Lollygag Blog, that covers life in Chicago with all of Keely’s inherent charm and humor. Lollygag Blog posts range from parenting, to city living, to DIY cautionary tales, with a few product reviews and a NKOTB header thrown in for fun.
Keely has also written for the Chicago Tribune, 101.9FM The Mix, and is a member of Netflix’s Stream Team. If that wasn’t enough (have I mentioned she’s amazing?) she also wrote a book, Expecting: A Year of Fixing Up and Breaking Down, about the period of time when she and her husband bought a fixer-upper home after discovering she was pregnant.
Keely and her husband are now the proud parents of three children, proving once and for all that she may have actuals superhuman powers.
Let’s see what Keely has to say…
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
I have a pretty sweet closet desk set up in my dining room, but I’ve also gotten pretty good at writing on the floor of my kids’ rooms and in the front seat of the Honda Odyssey in the pick-up line.
Additionally, Chicago Parent's editorial staff has been incredibly wonderful and permissive in allowing me to explore the arts-heavy nature of this town, not to mention how terrific it all is for kids. They're also really great to their writers; I'll be loyal to them forever! Netflix is a no-brainer (and also a fantastic company to work with). And I've been writing plays and stories since high school. Some people jog to clear their brains; I write fast-paced murder mysteries and sidekick narratives.
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
As a columnist for a parenting magazine, I get to imbue whimsy and fun turns of phrase into what's generally a straighter-laced, info-heavy type of reading.
In terms of writing plays, it just feels really good to a) be putting more theatre out into the world, b) doing so as a female writer, and c) show my kids that new works are alive and well (if underpaid).
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
Oh man, the whole "you're and your" shebang really makes me crazy. Also- autocorrect is merely a suggestion. Proofread those texts, people.
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
For biweekly and monthly columns, by the second draft. (My magazine editors are rapid-fire that way.) And for plays and books, I bring in a select one or two really early on, like the first chapter drafts to see if they get where I'm headed. (My poor husband. There is, quite literally, no correct answer for him. If he questions anything, I'm convinced he's never understood me. If he applauds it, I think he's trying to stave off a fight.)
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
Don't self-edit! Ever! Early on, just let it all free flow, especially if the story or characters are coming from every direction.There's plenty of time to refine, shape, and cut. Those early ideas, though, are pure magic (even if you have to say goodbye to a bunch of them).
Thank you Keely for taking the time to share these answers with us! I love your advice to let early ideas flow. You’re right, you never know what magic might sprout!
Please do find Keely on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and read all of her delightfulness at Lollygag Blog. As an added bonus, go out right now and buy her book!
One final note, Keely’s advice and insights have never steered me wrong. She is a gem in this world and I’m grateful for her every day.