Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's all in the tool box

By Heather Justesen

This week I had an ambulance training with a couple of local search and rescue guys. We learned about rope rescue and how to work as a team effectively while repelling, and then ascending a steep hill with a patient in tow. It was quite fascinating stuff, and I already have plans to use that some day (oh, the story ideas I've gotten from EMT trainings!) It was fascinating to see what a difference a single pulley made in easing the group up the hill, and how knowing the right knots and having the right equipment could broaden your options.

I bring this up not just because it was a dang cool activity that I can't wait to repeat with the whole posse in September (though that's true), or to point out that I did an awesome job of repelling (though that's true too--even if coming up again towing a patient was a bit trickier, but I'll blame that on the sage brush).

I mention this because the activity was about training as a team, and knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses and how to make the teamwork more effective.

Who's on your writing team? Do you have people you can brain storm with? People who are good at punctuation and grammar? People who point out where you prose isn't working as well as it could, or where your phrasing is a bit didactic or cliche? Do you have team members who cheer you on and help you see the good points in your writing so you don't become discouraged?

I think all of these jobs are essential--especially as we first start out writing. Until we can learn how to write better dialogue every time, we need people who can point out where it works and where it doesn't, and help us learn the difference. If you're a comma dunce (like I used to be, and still struggle with sometimes), then you'll need someone on your team who's a comma queen (or king) and can help you learn when and why to use them, and when something else is better.

We may not have every tool in our writing tool box that we'd like, but if we work with a team of others who have different strengths and weaknesses than we do, we can all pull together and accomplish far more than we could apart. And as we collect those tools over the years, we can share our skills with other writers who are where we used to be.

'Cause there are a lot of other comma dunces out there--and you never know when that comma dunces' prose will inspire you with fabulous plot twists you hadn't considered before.


Sheralyn said...

Cool! I want rope rescue training :) Clearly you're a good person to go out into the woods with!

Heather Justesen said...

Just don't forget the ropes and 'beeners and we'll be set!