Monthly Archives: January 2012

What’s Your One Thing?

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As I stated in my first blog post, I know better than anyone what it is like to balance the day to day routine of life with the beauty(and sometimes drudgery) of stringing words together to encourage, inspire and challenge. For me, some days are harder than others to think of things to write about. Then, there are other days when things come to me. One of those days happened to me last week as I finished my day teaching my pre-k students. A little boy from the class wandered his way to the back of the class, looking suspicious as I directed the rest of the class to prepare for nap time. As I walked over to him, his face looked more guilty as he clasped his hands behind his back in an effort to hide something from me. As I asked him what he had, he opened them slowly to reveal two small blue racing cars. As I reminded him once again that he needed to begin preparing for rest, he looked up at me and with a sheepish grin said, “Well, can I just have one thing?” I nodded and told him he could choose one of them. He skipped back to his cot and played happily, pushing the car back and forth and revving the imaginary engine with all the gusto his throat could muster.

That little boy encapsulates for us as writers what we all desire: to find that one driving force, the one passion that wakes us at night and forces us to put pen to paper through bleary, half-closed eyelids. The one thing that motivates us to keep a myriad of journals and pens everywhere from in between the car seats to the corner of our bedroom night stands. It’s the idea or story of which we not only gladly spend hours bent over our keyboards, but massage the edges of our temples to dull that headache we get from mental exhaustion. In essence, it’s the one message we yearn to tell the world, even if our words never reach a publisher’s desk.

If you have found that one thing, congratulations! Keep writing. The world will one day bask in the beauty of your labors. If you haven’t, stop what you are writing until you find it. Go to a quiet place and search your heart,. Ask yourself this question: “What is the one message I want the world to know?” Bring a journal and pen with you. When you think you’ve found it, write. You’ll be amazed at what is inside of you. Then, tailor all of your future writing endeavors to focus on this message. Research magazines to see if any are looking for articles on your topic. If you are writing a book and have stalled on the completion of it, begin to write a random chapter with this focus in mind. It may take you in a direction you never expected.

Writing with passion is what makes good writers experts in this field. Anything else is simply words on a page.

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The Sting of Rejection

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In the words of underdog fighter Rocky balboa ” The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.”

I felt like life had dealt me a nasty blow when I recently received my first negative review after the release of my first book in October.  To make matters worse, it was from someone I considered a friend and highly respect. As I read through his remarks, a stream of thoughts ran through my head. Thoughts like:

“How could he do this to me?”

“He’s my friend, and friends don’t do that to friends.”

“ I don’t think it’s that bad, he just doesn’t get it.”

“ He couldn’t be right about this.”

Could he?

Then I started to think about it. Maybe, just maybe, there was a small bit of truth woven throughout his disparaging words. After all, it’s his opinion, and he is entitled to it. Knowing him and his character, he wouldn’t write it unless it was honestly what he thought. I quickly realized that the  stream of thoughts I felt justified in thinking only existed to numb  the pain of my bruised ego.

In the business of writing, rejections are almost a guarantee. All writers at one time or another receive that dreaded rejection letter in their mailbox, a sign that they have truly embarked on the difficult road to publication. It’s what they do with those letters, those minor stabs to the heart, that separate the serious writers from the mere hobbyists.

Instead of burying my head in the sand and pretending that negative review  didn’t exist, I printed it out and pinned it to my bulletin board above my desk. Now, every time I open my computer to post on my blog or edit my next project, that review stares me in the face. It dares me

to write,

to do,

to be

better.

Four ways to avoid the rejection pile

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I came across Cecil Murphey’s post on a writer’s forum about four ways to avoid the rejection pile. I thought they were good, so I’m passing them along to you. If you have a book, article or proposal you would like to see in print, take a hint from a man who has published over 1000 articles and over 100 books. Enjoy!

1. Use simple, easy-to-grasp words. This isn’t the place to impress 
with your vocabulary or your marvelous writing style. Your task is to 
communicate. (Read those two sentences. Nothing erudite.)



2. Avoid weather reports. Too many start with the temperature or
 climate. If you must use weather, make it a character in your opening 
paragraph. For example: It rained the day I met Angie; it rained the day I
killed her.



3. Create suspense. Some writers think that if they withhold the name
 of a principle character that’s suspense. Who cares if she’s Matilda or 
Magdelena? We create suspense when he hint at a problem or imply tension.
Give readers something to make them want to read more. Example: Robert 
didn’t trust Helena when she applied for the job. He still didn’t trust he r
after he fell in love with her. There’s a hint of tension, and a hint is all 
you need. You want to raise questions in the minds of readers.



4. Whatever tone you start with becomes the style all the way through.
That first paragraph is your tacit contract with readers that you’ll write
in a particular style. If you write with humor, let’s see it on page 1.
Don’t play the bait-and-switch game of starting with a serious opening and
 turning to ribald humor by page 10. That’s not being faithful to your 
readers.

Read. Write. Repeat.

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What inspires you when you run to your computer eager to flesh out that new idea God has given you to say? A quiet office space? A slow, instrumental song humming from your nearby radio? A busy coffee shop? Frankly, when I’m experiencing the dreaded “writer’s block,” nothing inspires me. Every so often in order to write, however, I need to read. In fact, I encourage you to read first and then write. Sometimes other people’s writing styles motivate you to bring a new perspective to a new topic or bring to light a subject most are afraid to broach. I’m sure it feels as though you don’t have time to read. With all of the impending responsibilities and daily “to do lists”, it may seem as though there is not enough time in your schedule to read. But, reading can sometimes be the key to work through an idea, apply a new technique or hone your skills to take your writing to the next level.  Here are some tips to help you get motivated to pick up that dusty book from your bookshelf:

Choose an author whose writing style differs from yours – It helps you to become better at your craft because it makes you think of things in a way you wouldn’t have thought of them before. 

 Read a book on the process of writing– There are many great books on the process of writing that have been written by authors I greatly admire. For me, when I read a book they have written allows me “to pick their brain,” so to speak. It makes me fee like what they have accomplished is achievable for me as well. 

Read in order to think– I need to be as factual as possible in order to make my writing as professional as possible. I buy books that I think will give me more information on my book topic and  gives me inspirational ideas so I can blog. It’s true what they say: knowledge is power. Knowledge might be the power you need  to get out of that writer’s slump.  

 Set a goal- if you think reading might take too much time, choose to read only one or two chapters a day or set aside a certain amount of time and stick to it. Breaking it down will help you set small goals instead of feeling overwhelmed and will help it to feel more manageable. 

Reading may seem time consuming, but it might help you stop spinning your wheels and get out of that writer’s ditch and on the road to success.

 

 

Live well

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As I was scrolling through the numerous posts in The writer’s View, an online for Christian writers in various stages of their writing career, I came across a post from veteran writer Cecil Murphey. I first met cecil at a women’s conference two years ago. I had never heard of him before, but by mere coincidence sat next to him at lunch after one of the sessions. What a humble spirit! He was so friendly during our conversation, inquiring about my future writing endeavors.  Then when we were ready to dismiss to the next workshop, he gave me his card and told me to stop by  his booth.  Best of all, He told me to keep writing because the world needed books like mine. I walked away from the encounter  ready to take on the writing world. As I looked up his information, only then did I discover he has penned or ghostwritten over ninety books! What a legacy to leave the writing world from a gentle spirited man who exudes Christ like character.

I couldn’t help but make this my first tip for you. It is not only important to write well, but it’s equally as important to live well. I will never forget the kindness he showed a fledgling wordsmith, yearning for someone in the business to give me a little push out of the nest. Cecil will not only be known by the words in print, but also the life he lived when he was away from his desk. Writing may be only a hobby for some of you. For others, it may be a full fledged career. Christian or not, the world will remember you more for the legacy you leave in the here and now, in the mundane routine of life. On occasion, we might get our works of art in front of a publisher, and our names scrawled across a million book covers, but if we are not known in a positive way to the people around us, our seeming masterpieces will only collect dust on the bookshelf. my encounter with him life indelible impression on my life. It made me reflect on the question:

Who are you behind that computer?

My new blog

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I am proud to unveil my new blog to you today. I began this blog for you, dear reader, who struggles to balance all of life’s demands while obeying the call to communicate God’s Word through the written word.  When I came up with the idea for this blog, I wondered what I would have to offer that writing pros like Michael Hyatt, Cecil Murphey and Mary Demuth don’t. I offer you two things: my honesty  regarding the difficult path towards publication as well as encouraging words reaffirming for you that what you write matters. Having just finished the process of self-publication, I will openly share the challenges as well as the triumphs of becoming a full fledged author.

I will try my best to keep my goal of posting twice a week my joys, trials and triumphs in my pursuit of writing. I would love for this to be an open door for you, in whatever stage of writing you are in. Whether you are a timid novice, unable to even attribute the word “writer”  to yourself, or an experienced professional, putting the finishing touches on your next masterpiece, I hope you will be able to apply the tips I express here to your life. In addition, I will try to list resources that I come across that help me hone my craft, sharpen my skills, or enrich my writing experience. I am blessed to be called on this writing journey, and I hope you will feel the same as we take this wild trip called writing together.

Maybe you will join me often, maybe you won’t. I know too well that the many other responsibilities that demand your time  always win out in some capacity. But, please know that as you sit in front of you computer ready to churn the next greatest novel, I will be with you too, drowning in a sea of laundry  and hoping that someone might stumble upon my words and be blessed. I pray you are blessed, too.