Wednesday, August 30, 2017

5 Practical Ways to Meet Your Daily Word Count

by Alycia W. Morales    @AlyciaMorales

It's important for writers to be writing. Otherwise, it's difficult to call oneself a writer. Eh?

Some days it's a struggle to sit at the keyboard and put words on that screen. We all have them. The cursor blinks at us as if taunting us to dare to move it. One letter at a time. One word at a time. One sentence at a time. One paragraph at a time. One page at a time. One scene at a time. One chapter at a time. One book at a time.

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Below are five practical ways to get those words onto the screen:

1. Write 300 words a day 300 days a year. That gives you 65 days off. At the end of the year, you'll have 90,000 words to revise into a really great novel.

2. Write for 15 minutes a day. Not everyone has an hour or five to pound out those chapters. But all of us can find 15 minutes in our day to write. Before breakfast. Before bed. Before we get out of bed in the morning. On the train ride to work. Over lunch break. There are 15 minutes somewhere in our day that we can put words on the screen.

3. Use voice-to-text software. Write while you're driving, doing dishes, bathing the baby, walking around the grocery store, or running to your next engagement. Even if you're only using the recording app on your phone, you can get it onto the computer later.

4. Schedule an hour(s) in your calendar and take that time only for writing. This isn't time for researching, as that can easily become a social media/email-checking disaster. This is time for you to unplug from everything and simply write.

5. Challenge your friends to a writing marathon. Who can get the most words in an hour on Wednesday from 2-3 p.m.? Set a date and time to go at it. Encourage one another. Set a prize for the person who writes the most. Maybe everyone owes her $5 or has to go in on a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble gift card.

The key to getting words on a page is to guard whatever goal you set with your life. Writing 300 words? Writing for 15 minutes? An hour? Five? Don't let anyone or anything distract you during that time. Treat it like work. If you were at your 9-5 office job, would you be letting the dog out? Checking Facebook updates? Running household errands? No. Make writing a priority and get those words on that screen.

What ways have you found to meet your words counts? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Green-Eyed Monster of Envy

By Andrea Merrell

We’ve all battled with it to some degree at one time or another: the green-eyed monster of envy. It’s part of our carnal nature that has to be redeemed and brought into submission. Exodus 20:17 (NLT) says, You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

If God instructs us not to covet, why is it so hard to overcome? It usually begins in childhood. Susie has a nicer outfit. Tommy has a better skateboard. Lisa’s family has a swimming pool and a newer car with a DVD player. Left unattended, envy escalates in the teen years and morphs over into adulthood.

As writers, envy is a subtle enemy that can steal our peace, our joy, and our purpose. We all have our heroes—people in the industry we look up to and want to emulate. Having these people as our inspiration is fine as long as we don’t allow our admiration to become an obsession.

I’ve heard writers say things such as, “Look at her. How did she get a contract so fast? I’m a better writer than she is.” And "I’ve been writing longer than he has. How did he get so successful? It’s not fair.”

On the other hand, some might say, “If I could only be like _____ (you fill in the blank). She has it all together. She’s talented, outgoing, and … well, I just can’t compete.”

And therein lies the problem: trying to compete.

Envy not only causes competition, it can create a stronghold that produces bitterness and a critical spirit toward those we view as successful. This is what the Bible says about envy: Envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30 NIV). The NLT puts it this way: Jealousy is like cancer in the bones.

Pastor and author Bob Gass writes, “In essence, envy says to God, ‘you made a mistake when you made me like I am. I want to be like that other person and have what they have.’”

The truth is found in Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (NIV). Your calling and destiny are unique. God has a plan and purpose for you that no one else can fulfill. He can use you—and your words—to reach individuals that no one else can reach.

Writer, you are special. You are unique. There is no one else like you, and no one is able to do what God has called and equipped you to do. Don’t allow the green-eyed monster of envy to steal your God-given destiny from you.

Lord, thank you for the gifts, talents, and abilities you have placed inside me. Thank you for the words that flow from my heart to bless others. May I never give envy a foothold in my life, but use it as a tool to motivate me to become the person you created me to be.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/Graur Codrin.)


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Friday, August 11, 2017

9 Tips to Get an Editor to Say Yes

Today we'd like to welcome guest blogger Bethany Jett to The Write Editing! Enjoy!

by Bethany Jett     @BetJett



Your writing is strengthened through editing, and editing other people’s work strengthens your writing.

All through school I wanted my papers to be perfect the first time, and rarely did I write a second draft. My undergrad nights were often spent hunched over a keyboard, writing a twelve-page paper that was due the next day. No time for proofreading. No time for rewriting. No room for error.

Which of course, is the worst way to write papers.

I hated the red ink, which translates to “I hated correction.” Yet this type of correction is something I now crave, and as Stephen King says in my favorite writing book On Writing, “The first draft is for you. The second draft should be for everyone else.” Apologies to my professors for submitting the completely raw versions.

If you want to grow as a writer, pay attention to the edits. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again. It’s the red ink that strengthens and grows our writing abilities, and by editing other people’s work, you reinforce the rules in your own mind.



After working as Web Content Editor for Splickety Publishing Group, I read through numerous short stories, and my own writing was strengthened. I’d like to share with you some tips so that you can self-edit your manuscript before submitting it, and be that much more likely to get an editor to say yes.

1. Start with a hook.
Grab your reader from beginning. Unless it’s crucial to your story, no one cares that your heroine is blonde or tan. No one cares about the backstory. Strong openings show tension, so jump right into the middle of your character’s lives and draw your reader in to their world.

2. Cut every non-essential word, including descriptors.
Some words to look for: just, so, very, anyway, well. Get rid of them!

3. Be specific.
Look for the words they, it, them, thing, we, she, and he. When you have the chance to be specific, do so. Instead of saying, “He picked it up,” say “Caleb snatched the vase.”

4. Show, don’t tell.
This is a big one. It’s such an overused “rule” of writing but it’s so easy to slip into a narrative. Anton Chekhov said “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

5. Don’t repeat words that are close together.
This rule includes starting your sentences with the same word. If you scan your paragraphs, does each one start with “The” or “I”? Switch it up. If your characters are in a coffee shop, use synonyms—mug, thermos, coffee cup, tumbler, espresso.

6. Pace your reader.
Use punctuation and white space to control the flow of the story. Your writing should have a rhythm. Choose words that match the beat you hear in your mind as you write. If it’s a fast-paced section, use choppier sentences.

Break. It. Up.

If it’s a slower scene, use softer phrases and extend your sentences by making them longer than needed so that you are in control of the pace.

7. Utilize the senses.
Your reader sees the world through the eyes of the character (or the author, in the case of nonfiction). Open the rest of the senses…what does the barn smell like? How does the fabric feel against her cheek? Is tea warm in her mouth or does it scald her lips? Remind your reader what it sounds like to put your ear against the heartbeat of your true love.


8. Read your work out loud, then let someone else read it.
I believe in printing out your manuscript and reading it from a hard copy after you’ve worked tirelessly on it with your computer. On the screen, you may see zero mistakes. As soon as you hit print, they become glaringly obvious.

It’s also important to let someone read your work. Make sure this person will tell you the truth about your writing. I want to know if I’m being funny at the right time, if my jokes are “hitting,” if my pacing is good, and if I’m able to pull my reader through an emotional experience. This is what I’m looking for with my first reader. My second reader is my editor and I’m looking for correction with grammar and punctuation.

9. Follow submission guidelines.
There is too much competition and you’ve worked too hard to have your manuscript rejected because you couldn’t follow the rules. When in doubt, follow the standard: 12-pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 1”-margins.

I wish you all the best in your writing journey!
 

Bethany Jett attended her first writers conference with a proposal and a prayer and left with the Writer of the Year award, an agency contract, and interest from multiple publishers.

Three months later, she sold her debut book The Cinderella Rule: a Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After (Revell)which became a Selah Awards finalist.

Bethany is the Founder and Co-Owner of Serious Writer, Inc., and Vice President of Platinum Literary Services where she specializes in marketing, nonfiction proposal creation, ghostwriting, and developmental editing. Her love for marketing and social media led to her pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in Communication: New Media and Marketing. She also holds a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Behavioral Social Science and Humanities with a Criminal Justice minor.

Along with her speaking, writing, and graduate studies, Bethany speaks at churches and conferences nationwide at women’s and youth conferences and retreats, and her work has been featured in numerous publications including ChristianityToday.com, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr., SpiritLedWoman.com, crosswalk.com, SonomaChristianHome.com, ChristianMingle.com, the Rave section of The Orlando Sentinel, and Splickety Publishing Group. 

Bethany is a military spouse, momma-of-boys, suspense-novel junkie who describes herself as “mid-maintenance” and loves cute shoes and all things girly. Connect with her at BethanyJett.com.