June 25, 2018

Lessons from the Cello to the Writer – Part 2

By Chris Manion

Lessons the cello taught me that apply to my writing.

1.     Even though I knew nothing about playing it, I learned the cello with practice and a good teacher.

2.     When I practice the same scales week after week just to get through them, I make little progress. I must understand the relationship of each note to the next.

3.      I need to listen in a new way to discern when a note is on pitch. This takes time.

4.      I need to practice new pieces slowly at first. Zipping over the parts that give me trouble does not earn praise from my teacher.

5.      Cello strings need constant tweaking to stay in tune.

6.      I must make a commitment. If I don’t set a specific time for it, practice doesn’t happen.

7.      If I want to be good, I have to commit to practicing regularly. I want to be good.

Here’s how I’ve applied these lessons to my writing this year. To practice and find a good teacher, I’m attending another writers’ conference this month and will attend a fall writers retreat. I’ve committed myself as a writer on several blogs and formed a local chapter of Word Weavers to provide critique partners to help fine tune my work.

To understand the relationship of words to one another, each month I watch Left Behind author Jerry Jenkins’s live critique sessions. I also read a book on editing or writing to help me listen in a new way to what I’ve written, to write tighter and with less errors. I’m currently reading Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide. One of her bonuses: updates on the latest changes in CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style).

I’m a procrastinator. I skip parts that give me trouble. When I get stuck, I don’t finish an article or submit it for publication. A good critique partner or writing coach can help me through this. I need to swallow my pride and ask my partner for help more often.

After editing my writing, I print it out and read it aloud. Many tiny errors pop out on paper or to the ear that slip by on a computer screen. Ears hear the music in writing. Another practice: I wait and re-read it again, later.

My best time for writing is the morning, so I’ve set 6:00 – 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. – noon for writing hours. My brain feels drowsy after eating lunch, so I set my cello practice for 1:00 p.m.

If the energy from a butterfly flapping its wings can result in a tsunami (quantum physics says so), what transformative power we hold in our hands when we make music, or write, or do whatever God gave us talent to do. Let us do it now without another moment’s delay.

Like my cello, someone’s waiting and needs our words. Our talents are not meant to be buried.
Best-selling author Chris Manion is a conference and retreat speaker as well an award-winning catechist. Chris served as a coach and national leader in the direct selling industry for twenty-six years where she built a $20 million sales organization before retiring. Chris’s mission spotlights the oneness of all creation; her writing and talks encourage hearts to awaken to what their souls know but may have forgotten. Chris blogs at and God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Social Media links:

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