MaryPat Hyland is a writer, editor, blogger, personal chef and singer/guitarist for a traditional Irish band in upstate New York. She writes humorous novels and short stories with Irish-American themes, often including phrases in Gaeilge, the Irish language. "3/17" is the first of her three published novels to be offered as an e-book. Her next novel, "The Terminal Diner," will be released in June.
- Write every day. It doesn't have to be your work in progress. It can be a blog post, a series of tweets, jotted down observations or a note to a friend. Just as an athlete trains constantly, you must engage and exercise your writing muscles to keep in literary shape.
- Never, ever tell someone the plot of your work in progress as you hammer out the first draft. The first reason is that we write for an audience, and if you get the reaction you were expecting on your idea, why bother putting in the time to flesh out the story? The second reason is if you get a negative reaction to your idea—perhaps not fully formed—it will deter you from proceeding with the work, also.
- Play close attention to the cadence of conversations you hear around you each day. Note that people rarely address one another by name after the initial hello. They often leave off the end of a sentence. Note what words are used when there's an angry or happy tone. The Irish have a saying: Éist le ceol na habhann agus gheobhaidh tú breac—Listen to the music of the river and you will catch a trout. Listen to the music of conversation, and you will catch readers.