Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Four Seasons in Writing

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As I peer out my window, I see changes in my environment that indicate a new season is approaching. Frost on my window, barren trees and slippery roads tell me fall will soon be a memory and old man winter will be making his yearly appearance. As much as I shudder at the thought of having to prepare for this next phase, nature has an innate way of preparing itself for what is to come. They come with preparation and expectation of the next phase of its life cycle . 

My writing career also has a cycle of life. Here are four seasons in the life cycle of a writer:

1) the idea season- You have an idea for a new project. Now is the time to take out a notebook and flesh out how that idea will take shape. Your ideas may be fragmented or choppy, but try to fill in an outline as fully as you can. Much like the buds on a tree, your idea is a small formation of the beauty which is to come. 

2) the composition season- Once that outline is filled in, now is the time to write. It may feel daunting to try to write a lengthy project, but take it in bite- sized chunks.  Set aside a specific time each day or make a goal to write a certain number of pages within a week. Also, set a goal of when you want to complete the project. Just as each season has a set amount of months, you should have an end date in mind. This helps you get through the tough, “winter” days of writing and allows you to look forward to the next phase. 

3) The editing season- Now is the time to prune that project, tighten up your verbs and give your project a spring cleaning . Just as we clean out our homes, prepare our gardens and cut down the dead branches from winter snow, your writing can use a cleaning as well. Are you using passive voice? Too many “to be” verbs? Awkward phrasing? Enlist help if you need it to make it the best reflection of who you are as a writer. 

4) The Releasing Season- As we enjoy the beauty of creation and the fruits of our labor in the summer, now is the time to release your work out into the world. Make a goal to send it to 3 agents and 3 publishing companies that take unsolicited manuscripts. Do your homework and shape your proposal to conform to each of the companies’ standards. They may vary widely, so be professional.

Once you have clicked the “send ” button, celebrate! Take a vacation. Travel. Immerse yourself in a good hobby.  Whatever you do, celebrate your many months of hard labor. You earned it! Then prepare yourself for the next season: another new project. 

 

What Is Your One Thing?

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What Is Your One Thing?

Times are constantly changing. As theologies and religious movements come and go, one thing remains: the unchanging nature of God. Jesus understood that the time had come for the old way of doing religion to disappear and a new way to emerge to give hope to the new generation of potential followers.

Matthew 9:13-19 says, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus Questioned About Fasting

 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Why would followers need to obey the rituals of the law, when the one who fulfills the law is already with them?

As writers, a new day has dawned! As times continue to change and the prevalence of  church and religion continues to disappear, we have an ever important job. We are presented with a unique opportunity to present the unchanging gospel in a new, relevant way— one that speaks to an increasingly unbelieving generation. We are called to pour new wine into new wineskins so the church can be preserved.

A publisher once told me they do not want books with concepts that have been previously written about. This indicates to them there is no audience for it. Instead, they want to see writers put a new, creative spin on an old concept.

So, how do we do this?

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What is the “one thing” God is calling you to write?

 

Ask yourself the following questions:

Who is your audience: Children? Young adults? Males? Females?

What is your genre: non-fiction or fiction? Devotionals, articles, plays, or stories?

When Should I Set a Deadline: Is this a project that will take years, or a short article you can complete in a couple of weeks?

 

 

Where should I write: Do you have a spot you can be productive in your writing? A quiet spot in the woods? A noisy café? A home office?

 

 

How Should I Write: The only way to figure out your voice or style is to write. As you practice and hone your craft, your voice will poke through.

 

 

Why Should I Write: Figure out your passion. What subjects, interests or hobbies are you most interested in? When you figure that out, your passion will naturally emerge.

You have been called to be a writer! How will you share your gift to present the gospel in a new and exciting way?

A Nasty Case of Writer’s Block

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I had every intention of writing today. I got up and greeted the day with a nutritious meal, hot shower and brisk morning walk. But when I went to my computer with the expectation of getting some writing done, you know what happened?

Nothing.

Hour after hour passed and all I produced was that same blinking cursor and stark white page.

This doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does, it is frustrating and hard to deal with. To think I wasted a whole day of precious time and produced nothing as a result.

Or had I?

To get some inspiration, I pulled out a book I had been wanting to read for a while. As I thumbed through the beginning pages, my mind began to churn with ideas for new writing projects. Although the day didn’t go as I expected, sometimes those are the days God speaks to me the most.

If you have caught a nasty case of writer’s block, here are some tips to try to help you combat it:

1) Take a break- If you have been productive up to this point, it may be your mind’s way of urging you to take a mental break from writing. Engaging in other hobbies or interests may help engage your mind in new ways that help you when you do get inspired to write again.

2) Get inspired- Go somewhere other than your usual writing spot and find a new place to retreat. A new change of scenery may  help get your mind’s juices flowing once again. For example, I have a home office that I use on most days. But on occasion, working at home poses more of a distraction to me than a help. So I go to my local coffee shop and write from there. Changing from a quiet atmosphere to a noisier one or vice versa forces your mind to focus more intently on the task at hand.

3) Read, Read, Read- Reading others’ ideas help you see things from a different perspective and serve as a catalyst to put that creative spin on a traditional topic or teach you how to write more creatively.

Have any other remedies for that nasty writer’s block bug? Feel free to leave a comment and share.