Monday, April 15, 2019

Don't Give Up On Your God-Given Dream


By Andrea Merrell

Has God placed a dream in your heart? Has He filled you with words of hope and encouragement that will bless others? Has He given you stories to thrill and entertain? Do you feel content and at peace when you’re sharing those words with the world?


If the answer to those questions is yes, then God has called you to write. When He calls, He equips. He will guide, instruct, and open the right doors of opportunity. Writing for Him is a wonderful journey, but just like every other adventure in life, the road can be filled with bumps and potholes. Those obstacles can cause discouragement and disappointment. Don’t let them derail your dreams and keep you from fulfilling your purpose.

Disappointment has been referred to as the gap between expectation and reality. Having your hopes crushed can be a damaging experience. I’ve heard writers say things like, “It’s too hard. I tried and failed. I’ll never do that again.”

One writer says, “Experiencing failure is the price you must pay to achieve success. Sometimes you must face it and overcome it repeatedly in order to be able to move forward and pursue your dream.”

Failure can come in many forms: a rejection letter, losing a contest, not getting the agent you had your heart set on, a negative critique, an awkward appointment with an agent, editor, or publisher. But failure is in the eye of the beholder. Some say we only fail when we don’t try. When we learn to take a different perspective, we can learn much from our failures. The key is: don't give up.

Learning is growing. And every stage of growth has its own set of growing pains.

Never stop believing in and pursuing your God-given dream.

 What is your dream? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles and the path traveler.)

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Making a Difference as a Writer


By Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

“If you want to change the world, pick up a pen.” This is one of my favorite writing quotes and is from Martin Luther. Since the moment I heard it, I knew I had heard directly from God as to my calling.

I had always wanted to do something that made a difference. When I first started writing, I was content to write in my office and have a few things published. But sitting there all alone with my computer didn’t make me feel like a world changer. Looking across the top of my computer out the window at the vast landscape in front of me should have been inspirational. Instead, because it was all the world I could see every day, it felt very small.

Several things helped me change my perspective.

  • I had peace about what I was doing. I didn’t feel restless to go do something else. God called me to be a writer, and I was learning the craft. With each successful placement of my work, I had the opportunity to touch or change a life.

  • I ceased to worry about how I fit into the writing world and concentrated on doing what God had called me to do. Some like to approach the writing world as a competitive venue. God has a special message for every writer to communicate in a way that is unlike any other writer’s style. I needed to let my uniqueness overflow onto every page.

  • I began to receive bits of encouragement from others. Friends commented on my writing, a note or two arrived from people I didn’t even know, my passion continued to grow as aspiring writers asked me for advice.

  • Second Corinthians 3:3 says, “You are a letter from Christ … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of the human heart.” Whether my words are on a computer or spoken by the way I live, I am God’s messenger to the world, and others are reading.


Yes, being a writer is a pretty solitary job. However, very few other professions have the opportunity to take their messages directly to their audiences. 

Can you be a world changer? Absolutely. How? One word at a time reaching one heart at a time.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and vectorolie.)


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Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to use their writing to make a difference. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 19 books including the new LINKED Quick Guides for Personalities. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material! www.lindagilden.com


Monday, March 25, 2019

Oops ... I Forgot to Write a Title


By Yolanda Smith

I’m a fantastic forgetter. I’ve advanced through the ranks until I earned my PhD in the subtle art of forgettery. My cup of coffee is never where I last left it. Folks I’ve known for years stop to say hello and, without warning, their names tumble headfirst into my mental basement. I forget to write items on my Walmart list, neglect to carry said list inside the store, and cannot recall where I parked my car when I exit the building.

No surprise, but this transfers smoothly to my writing life. I sit at my keyboard to click clack my thoughts and soon forget the most important, basic elements required for a robust writing session. If I want to be successful, I need an abundance of external reminders of what my essentials are.

To combat my lack of recall, I have strategically placed single and double-word notes in locations where my eyes dart most when I glance away from my computer. I’m sharing my list with you in hopes that 1) you won’t judge me too harshly for disremembering elementary stuff, and 2) you’ll be stimulated to admit your own struggles consider which words and phrases might top your own list of vital reminders.

I change my memos as needed, but these are my current sticky notes:

Move
When I am in the throes of churning out chunks of material, I forget to get out of my seat. If I don’t take a break every twenty to thirty minutes, stretch my muscles and get my blood flowing, I end up with a migraine.

Make Me Care
This is the voice of my reader whispering in my ear. If I bore her, I’ve committed one of the cardinal sins of writing. One of my ultimate goals when writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, is to make my reader care. I want to compel her to take my words to heart.

Focus
Multiple writers, myself included, struggle with ADD/ADHD. Perhaps that’s not part of your personal toil package, but I’m guessing you face any number of other distractions. When my mind wanders, I tend to … And then I … Until I see my FOCUS memo, and it drives me to return to the task at hand.

So What?
Sometimes, when my writing journey is at peak stress level my normal concerns tip over the edge into Worryland. One of the best exercises I use when I’m worried is to take my concern to its potential outcome with the question, “So what?”
I might not win the contest I entered.
So what?
I didn’t get the agent I was hoping for.
So what?
So what if I never get published? 
The answers to these questions help me identify where my priorities are (and discover my hidden idols in the process). Because in light of eternity with Christ, and his relationship with me here on earth, most of my so-whats fall into the right perspective or fizzle into nothingness.

Surrender
This thought is a companion to “So what.” It is crucial for me to remember God owns my writing life. He put me on this journey, and He can change course any time. I must carry it all in open palms for Him to shape, use, or discard as He sees fit. Without reminders, my resting hands morph into a tight-fisted grip.

Ask
This one is a no-brainer, but since I’m amazing at forgetting, I keep ASK in the most prominent spot on my desk. I am abundantly aware if I’m to write anything worth reading, I need the Lord’s help. But sometimes, if I’m not careful, that awareness sits like a dusty book on a shelf. Being aware of a need is not the same as doing something about it. The simplest thing in the world is to request aid, but it’s astonishing how quickly I forget to ask God for help.

Odds and Ends
I keep many other reminders tacked on my board and scattered across my desk. Bible verses, inspirational quotes, and craft must-dos are dispersed throughout my workspace. These are often large Post-it® notes, and I’m not as apt to read them if I’m in a hurry. That’s why I keep the most significant missives reduced to one or two key words written on separate, brightly colored notes so they’ll leap out at me.

Oddly Enough
It isn’t imperative to remember all the things at once. A quick glance at one dominant word can jog my memory and put me on the path of productivity and creativity. And my reminders aren’t perennial. Some of them turn into habits by and by. The Lord is always challenging and changing me, and that’s what I love most about this writing life.

Do you keep reminders handy in your workspace? I’d love to hear your list. Do you have another method for remembering priorities when you write?


Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Stuart Miles, and Yolanda Smith).


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Monday, March 18, 2019

The Power of Words


By Andrea Merrell

When I created a website and started blogging ten years ago, I was a total newbie in this unique world of writing, editing, and publishing. Every baby step forward was made with faith that God was leading me down the path He had prepared for me long ago.

Naming my website and blog felt like a monumental task. So many others had beautiful sites with catchy phrases and stunning graphics. It was obvious how much time, effort, thought (and yes, even money) had gone into their web presence. I’d never considered myself very creative and didn’t know how to create a brand. I felt like a kindergartner.

But my love of words kept me going. In the early days, I set up a website on Go Daddy and called it The Word Shoppe. The header was a coffee shop theme with a cute little bistro table and chairs. It seemed to work well, and I was happy with it … for a while.

Someone told me I could create a free blog site on Blogger.com, so I did. Again, I struggled to come up with a catchy name. The name I settled on—or should I say the name the Lord gave me—was Words That Matter. I knew in my heart that whatever I wrote on that site would contain words that were important. Words that were encouraging. Uplifting. Constructive. Words that really meant something. I never wanted to fill up a page with a bunch of fluff and nonsense. 

I later cancelled my Go Daddy site and combined my website and blog at www.AndreaMerrell.com where I post a short devotion once a week in hopes of encouraging my readers. I would love to have you join me. Because to me, words are a gift, and they really do matter. They matter to us as writers, to our readers, and, most importantly, to God.

Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue (NKJV). That means as writers—especially Christian writers—we have a huge responsibility to use our words with wisdom, honesty, and integrity. We have the power to speak life or death to those who invest their time and energy to read our books, blog posts, devotions, and articles.

As Chris Tiegreen says “One of the greatest gifts you can give the world is the power of your words. Use them wisely. Build up rather than tearing down. Speak life instead of destruction. Express truth and love. Dispense with mindless chatter; let your words carry weight. Your mouth is an influential force. Use it well, and the people around you will thrive.

Yes, our words matter, whether spoken or written. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverb 12:18 NIV). Our words can be a blessing or a curse, especially in this age of hatred and political unrest. The choice is ours.  

Andy Rooney once said, "Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them." We never want to live with regrets, especially because of careless words. Choose yours wisely, and bless the world with the gift God has given you. 

I would like to take a moment to personally thank each of you for reading and supporting The Write Editing. Alycia and I started this blog in 2014 as a resource for writers. We have had some amazing guest bloggers, and we plan to bring you more in the future. If there are topics you would like for us to address, please leave a comment and let us know. Thank you for all the shares, likes, and tweets over these past five years. We would love for you to share us with your friends so they can join us as well. Be blessed in your writing journey! 😊



(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Writer, Leave Them Hanging

By Cindy Sproles

“It was a fast read. I couldn’t put it down.”
 
Nothing rings sweeter to an author’s heart than these words. The moment a reader becomes so invested in a story that nothing is more important than reading to the end. It’s
 monumental!


We call these page turners cliffhangers. Remember “who shot J. R.”—the 1980s season cliffhanger for Dallas that kicked off a new era for television? More so, it kept watchers drooling to know what happened next, assuring Dallas a knockout for the next season’s opener.

There are different schools of thought on the subject of cliffhangers, but for me … I love them, and I practice them at the end of most chapters of a novel. Why? It’s a challenge for me as a writer and a ring-in-the-nose for my reader that allows me to clip on the rope and continue to pull them deeper into the story.

Some authors insist cliffhangers are unnecessary if you write a compelling story, but a compelling story should be filled with exhilaration and take-your-breath realizations that drive your reader into a deeper investment in the characters. Carefully placed cliffhangers are the icing on an already compelling story.

The question is, exactly what is a cliffhanger and how do you insert them into your chapter without leaving a cheesy taste for your reader? First off, a cliffhanger is not always something earth-shattering. In fact, the most effective cliffhangers come when the author leaves the reader holding on to a character’s thought or motivation. It’s the “what if” factor or ratcheting up the tension. Something unexpected happens—or fails to happen—a new thought or change of thought process.

For example, your character makes a decision:  Owen knew the answer. He held the key in his hand all along … talk to Ericka. Just talk to Ericka.

With a cliffhanger like this at the end of a chapter, the reader suddenly experiences the same “ahhh” moment as the character, whetting their desire to know what follows the decision to talk to Ericka.

Perhaps it’s a moment when the character realizes something important.

Example:  I flipped open the worn pages of his Bible and pressed my finger against the words. I had my proof. My vindication right in the lines of the Good Book. An eye for an eye. “How’s this Daddy? An eye for an eye …”

A good cliffhanger acts as a lure. It proves to be just as valuable as the opening hook in paragraph one of the first chapter. Sometimes the perfect cliffhanger is a simple statement from a character that reinforces the chapter’s tension.

For example:  There was nothing left to say. When the gavel hit the desk, guilty rang through the courtroom.

Equally as important as utilizing a cliffhanger is knowing not to overuse them. Remember, when your reader is deeply invested in your story, their heart races, they wiggle in their chair with the intensity of the scene so there are times, very important times, that you give the reader the opportunity for a breath. Let them relax for a second.

I loved the television show 24. But after two seasons, I began to say, “Just how many more times can Jack Bauer save the world?” Instead of my interest growing stronger, I felt like there was no end to the dire situations the nation faced. I was tired and frustrated when the show ended. And poor Jack Bauer, how could the man ever rest?  This was the result of never allowing the watcher to experience a moment of hope. Angst is wonderful, but too much gives your reader ulcers.

As you place cliffhangers at the end of chapters, carefully assess the intensity of the chapters prior and post. Ask yourself the question, “Can my reader take a breath?” If not, give them one. As much as we love drama and action, we need to experience some hope and peace. These strategically placed sentences enrich your reader’s experience.

In a conference class under the late Ron Benrey, he shared his thoughts on the importance of a good cliffhanger. “A good story … a really good story, piques every sense and emotion of the reader, not once, but over and over. Carefully placed cliffhangers bring the story to life. It’s like the character reaches from the pages of the book, takes the reader by the wrist and yanks them into a fictional bubble which refuses to let them escape. This, and this alone, gives the reader an experience they long for.”

As you study your chapters, carefully assess how you can apply a good solid cliffhanger. Decide what type of emotion you need to tweak, and then jump on it. Learn to make your readers hunger for the next page and give them the pleasure. When they purchase your book, read it, and close the cover, they should have received the reading experience they deserve. Your best hope as a writer, is an email that asks you for more. When that happens, it’s a win-win for you and for the reader.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, marin, and Sira Anamwong.)


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Cindy Sproles explains how to draw your readers into your story by strategically placed cliffhangers. via @Cindydevoted (Click to tweet.)


Cindy Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She’s an author, popular speaker and teacher at conferences, and a writing mentor. Cindy serves as the Executive Editor of ChristianDevotions.us, Inspire-A-Fire.com, and is the Managing Editor for SonRise Books and Straight Street Books with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is the author of New Sheets–Thirty Days to Refine You Into the Woman You Can BeMercy’s Rain, and Liar's Winter. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Writer, Put on Your Warm-Up Suit



By Yolanda Smith

There’s a word for the type of young athlete who feels he is above the necessity of a warm-up routine: lunkheaded.

There’s another word for the same fellow if he persists in his erroneous reasoning: injured.

 Whether he’s passing or punting, shooting or swinging, at a minimum his game will be so ineffective he’ll never reach full potential.


You, my writer friend, are an athlete of words. You move words from heads to hearts and pass ideas across a field of blank pages until they reach the goal: your reader’s thoughts and emotions. And like an intelligent athlete, you need a warm-up process for your brain to get in the game of writing. You don’t want to end the event hamstrung or fruitless. And how you end is conditional on how you begin.

What is your warm-up routine for getting in the groove of writing? Whether you have a sturdy warm-up method in place or you’ve never thought about having a warm-up practice, I’d like to offer a short list of possibilities for you to consider.

Brain Dump
This needs no interpretation. Set a timer for ten minutes, then empty your brain onto the page. Take all the thoughts—the chaotic scramble of random notions, the store of ideas you’ve been saving, the rant against your husband, even the grocery list—and slap them down on paper as fast as you can go. Ignore lines, punctuation, grammar, spelling, and any other conventional rules. You can also try this on your computer. Stream of consciousness is a proven method for unclogging a stopped-up mind. The only rule of this exercise is to keep your pen or fingers moving the entire time.

List Making
We’re not talking about the grocery list this time. Decide on a writing goal for the day, then make a detailed list of the steps needed to accomplish your target.

Copy Exercises
I can’t remember where I heard this idea, but it was genius. We all have that one author we admire and wish we could write like someday.  Grab a notebook, pen, and your favorite title by this hero writer. Set a timer for ten to twenty minutes, and begin copying chapter one, page one. Your subconscious will internalize rhythm and language, and over time you will recognize what works. Oddly enough, the more you copy someone else’s style, the more your own voice will emerge. Many of the world’s finest artists have learned their craft by copying the masters.

Read Books on Craft
When I read a chapter from a book on writing craft, I am instantly inspired to try something new, implement something I already know but need reminded of, or I’m given a new angle on something I’m struggling with. How-to books put a fire in my fingertips, and I’m suddenly ready to conquer the world.

Read a Chapter from a Book in Your Genre
If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to set a timer for this one. Otherwise you’ll find your whole writing time sabotaged by a captivating tale. There’s nothing like a good romp through the pages of an amazing story to inspire you to get busy and attempt the same.

Read Poetry
The reading of poetry unlocks the mind to explore creative paths that are otherwise hidden to the creative eye. Poetry has been described as the gateway drug for writing and for good reason. It evokes longing, imagination, curiosity, and other deep emotions that become a springboard for an abundance of ideas, helping the writer soar beyond the confines of space and time.

Try Them All
Any of these exercises can shift your brain into high gear for the creative work you need to do. I’ve tried all of these approaches over the years and keep them on rotation. This is how I trick myself into thinking I’m avoiding a routine. Find what works for you and stick with it, or cycle through to keep your brain guessing. But whatever you do, don’t skip your warm-up. We don’t want any injuries on the page.

Have you tried any of these strategies for warming up your brain? Do you have something different that works for you? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.


(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Flare and Yolanda Smith.) 


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Six strategies for warming-up your brain before you begin writing. via @canitbeyolanda (Click to tweet.)


Monday, February 18, 2019

Five Things You Might Not Expect from a Writers' Conference


By Andrea Merrell

Writers’ conferences are essential in the life of a writer. Those of you have been writing for a while know this for a fact. We save our money and set aside the time to go and learn from the best. We expect to expand our knowledge, get inspired, network with other writers, and hopefully land an agent or contract. But here are a few things we might not expect.

New Friends
Over the past ten years, I have met many wonderful people at conferences. Little did I know in the beginning that some of those people would become dear friends. Many times, a conference will feel more like a family reunion.

Critique Partners

As important as conferences are to the life of a writer, so are good critique partners. If you don’t have a group in your area, this is a great place to forge relationships and create the support you need. You might meet people in your area who can meet on a regular basis, or you might form an online group. The important thing is to get involved.

Prayer Partners

God never ceases to amaze me at the way He knits hearts together. He has given me a wonderful group of prayer warriors who go to bat for me whenever I need it.


A New Perspective

Sometimes we go to a conference with a certain mindset, while God has a different plan. Proverbs 16:9 says A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. If you’re a novelist, He may inspire you to write heartfelt devotions. Or if you write nonfiction only, He may give you the idea for a great fictional story. You might be the shy person sitting on the back row whom God calls to a speaking ministry. You never know what God might do in your life when you’re open to His leading.

Unexpected Writing Opportunities

Networking is one of the most exciting things about a conference. You are there with like-minded people who “get you.” As you interact, you never know the seeds that are being planted. They might sprout immediately ... or show up years down the road. 

Last year at my first ACFW conference, I was seated next to an amazing woman who does a blog on fear. As we chatted, she invited me to do a guest post for her blog. Several years ago, when I was on the faculty of a conference in another state, I met a lady who was just getting started on her writing journey. She kept my card and contacted me three years later to write a few guest posts for her blog. As a result of teaching at a conference six years ago, I was recently contacted by a very sweet lady and asked to edit her book. Once at a table during a meal, I was asked to speak at the National Speakers Association because someone had cancelled at the last minute. Who knows, someone might invite you to do a radio interview or speak at their church.

Whatever you do—before, during, and after a conference—be ready. Whenever you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

What about you? What unexpected blessings have found you at a conference? We would love to hear from you.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)



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Monday, February 11, 2019

Glimpsing God in the Frustrations of the Writer’s Life


By Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Do you ever wonder what in the world God is doing in this crazy writing life?

God, why did I work so hard on that article only to have it
rejected?

God, why was that piece chosen, but the one I really love not selected?

God, why did I spend nine months of my life on that project, only to have it sit in my computer going nowhere and reaching no one?

God, why do you fill my head with ideas to write about and wake me up in the middle of the night, then don’t grow my blog as quickly as I’d hoped?

God, if I’m obeying your call to write, why is it so hard?

God, what are you doing in this crazy writing life of mine????

If you can relate to any of these questions, there’s hope. Hope that comes, of all places, from the book of Job.

Imagine that.

God is laughing already.

Who would think that a man who had lost ten children in a tragic accident, went from millionaire to pauper in a day, and was married to a cruel, faithless woman would have any hope to offer? But in God’s upside down economy, it’s not surprising at all.

My latest devotional, Refresh Your Faith (due out in the spring of 2020 with Discovery House) spotlights uncommon verses buried in every book of the Bible. Job 26:14 is one of them. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, he rehearses for his “miserable comforters” the might, power, and majesty of God.

“He hangs the earth on nothing,” he says. “He binds up the water in His thick clouds . . . He stirs up the sea with His power . . . By His Spirit He adorned the heavens . . . "(v. 7-13).

Then he concludes with this awe-struck realization: “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, And how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?"

The mere edges of his ways.

I grew up on the rocky shores of Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island. I’d often sit at the shoreline, walk in the shallows, or swim out until my feet barely touched the bottom. Because I had lived around the sea all my life, I thought I knew it well.

Then one day I boarded a ship that took me hundreds of miles off shore, where the water stretched from horizon to horizon and the ocean floor lay miles beneath me. Only then did I begin to understand the true nature of the ocean. Before that, I had experienced the mere edges – and how small a whisper they had been.

After pointing out our nearsighted perspective, Job lifts the fog on the ocean of God’s ways: “But the thunder of his power, who can understand?”

Paul, in First Corinthians, says it like this: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (2:9). And, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (13:12).

As Christian writers bound to the earth by our mortality, we glimpse only the mere edges of His ways. And hear only small whispers of Him.

But one day we’ll sail out into the vast expanse of no-time life. We’ll hear the clarion call of His mighty voice. We’ll witness the thunder of His power. And we will understand.

Every word typed in obedience to Him? Seed for the harvest.

Every hour spent hunched over a keyboard? Sandpaper smoothing the edges.

Every late night and early morning session? A fragrant offering.

Every pitch and proposal sent out for His glory? Stepping stones on the journey.

Job can speak into our angst and impatience because he, too, was a frustrated author. He shared our desire to see our words published. He, too, wanted others to benefit from the insight he had received. “I wish that my words were recorded and inscribed in a book,” he lamented in Job 19:23.

I’m not sure what steps his publishing journey included (I suspect it contained a Ghost writer), but I know none of his experiences or his words were wasted. Even today, thousands of years later, God still uses his insight to encourage us along the way.

Perhaps, one day, God will use our words to do the same.

“God is not unjust,” the writer of Hebrews promises, “He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10).

Now it’s your turn. What verse encourages you when you feel discouraged? Leave a comment and encourage us all.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Stuart Miles, and tiramisustudio.)


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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of several devotional books. Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in early 2020. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on FacebookTwitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


Monday, February 4, 2019

Where Do You Find Inspiration to Write?

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

Inspiration comes from many different places in our lives. Typically we think in generalized terms when we consider finding inspiration for our writing. We can go to Pinterest and scan the boards. We can take a walk in the woods and be inspired by a sunrise. Someone in our lives may have impacted us in a way that inspires us to do something great. But these are all general places we find things to inspire our writing.

Today, I'd like you to take out a piece of paper or pull up the notes app on your phone. Answer the following questions:

1. You've spent a sick day in bed (like I just did). What movie marathon are you watching? Or are you binge watching a series on Netflix? Why? What about that movie or series inspires you? Is it the characters? Plot? Setting? Does it thrill you? Encourage you? Challenge you? Bring peace? Dig deeper into why it inspires you and write that down.

2. You're writing the story of your life. What is the soundtrack? Most of us have songs or even entire albums that relate to moments in our lives. Think back to your childhood. What song did your parents sing when it came on the radio? My mom says I knew all the lyrics to ABBA and Captain and Tennille songs by the time I was two. We spent a lot of time in my early teen years traveling back and forth to my grandparents as their health failed. Four hours in the car meant Air Supply, the Top Gun soundtrack, and John Denver. I eventually tuned out and put Madonna in my Walkman. What about your first dance? First kiss? Wedding song? Write down your soundtrack. Take it a step farther and create a playlist on YouTube.

3. Go to your favorite place in your mind. What's it like? How would you describe it to someone else? Use the five senses. Write down what you see, hear, smell. What would you eat or drink there? What do the surfaces feel like? What do you love about that place? What's the one thing you would change about it if you could? Come on, everywhere we go, we can find one thing we'd like to change in order to make it more perfect than it already is.

4. This one has to do with characterization, and neither is going to be easy. Think about your best friend. Now, turn him or her into your worst enemy. But keep some of their positive traits. Because the best villains always have something we can sympathize with about them. Now, consider your biggest rival (we all had them in high school...). What did you dislike so much? Turn that person into your best friend (in high school). What would you have changed about them if you had the ability to do so? Remember, when we're writing, we're creating characters just as God created us. We give them their traits and make them who they are.

5. If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be? How would you rid the world of evil, cure a disease, put an end to abortion? What would your character do to do the same in his or her world? How would he or she inspire others around them to see things from their perspective? Does it have to do with their past? Their testimony? Expound for a few minutes.

Maybe you answered all of these. Maybe you chose one. Or two. The point is to really consider what inspires you in life. And then transfer that into your storytelling, whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction. At the base of our desire to write is usually a desire to inspire others with our words. By really looking at what inspires us, we are able to then translate that into our writing.

Share with us in the comments. Which of these activities did you choose and why? What inspires you?

Tweetable: 

Where Do You Find Inspiration to Write? @AlyciaMorales has 5 prompts. {Click to Tweet}

Monday, January 28, 2019

Three Ways for Writers to Grow a Thick Skin


This week's post is by writer and editor Yolanda Smith. We are excited to have her join the Write Editing team.


By Yolanda Smith

Recently, a client of mine sent a few short pieces for edit work. In her email she said, “I am pretty thick-skinned and appreciate your honest feedback, corrections, and edits.” The most successful writers I know have this trait in common: they’ve developed a thick skin.

Perhaps you were born with a steely personality, but if that isn’t you, here are three practices that will help you form a thick skin:

Separate Yourself from Your Work

You are not your work. Your writing is an extension of you, much like a limb or digit. If one of your appendages were severed—God forbid—it wouldn’t fundamentally change who you are. Writing is personal, and part of our essence leaks into our work, but after we’ve sweated and bled all over the page, our core self remains intact.

A tough critique is not a slam on your personality. It’s an opportunity to learn how to maneuver through criticism, deciding what to use and what to reject. Learn to wield objective analyzation like a skilled swordsman, slicing away input that doesn’t work for you, and keeping the voices that ring true.

Carry Determination in Your Back Pocket

Hold your manuscript loosely, but don’t lose sight of your end goals. Bulldog tenacity is a necessary component of a successful writing career. Fiery determination—and a bucket full of prayer—will carry you beyond hurtful situations. Be aware difficult and dark moments will worm their way into your creative life, but set your eyes on the prize and don’t let go for any reason other than a divine change of direction. Sometimes I write myself a reminder before submitting a piece of work and put it in a prominent place where I can see it when I receive a response: Remember, this acceptance or rejection will not make or break you. You may cheer or you may cry, but both are momentary reactions. Take a few breaths to enjoy your celebration or wallow in your sorrow, then get back to work.

Get a Second Opinion

And sometimes a third and fourth. Early in my current manuscript I worked with a writing coach. She’s a best-selling author and award-winning editor. In other words, she knows her stuff. My novel is historical Appalachian fiction and as such contains dialect peculiar to mountain folk. I took a chapter to a critique group where a few well-meaning writers advised me to scale back the hillbilly idioms. I followed their suggestions. When I sent my next round of chapters to my coach, she asked what had happened to my writing voice. I lost it by following the recommendation of writers barely ahead of me in their craft. I gave too much weight to their assessment and was thankful to get another opinion that felt more authentic to my story line.

Here’s a bonus element for gaining the tough hide necessary to persevere in your writing life: submissions. Submit anywhere and everywhere you can, thereby opening yourself to criticism. You’re bound to find plenty of opportunities to grow beyond the pain, and your thick skin will layer at a solid rate, I promise.

Have you developed a thick skin as a writer? If so, we'd love to hear your suggestions.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Michelle Meiklejohn, and Stuart Miles.)



TWEETABLES






Yolanda Smith enjoys life in the foothills of North Carolina. In a “Yours, Mine & Ours” spin, she and her husband are parents to a combined total of twelve children and grandparents to a growing number of littles. Yolanda serves on her church’s worship team, works as a freelance editor, is a guest speaker at various churches, and writes in the cracks of life. She is currently working on her first novel featuring historical Appalachian fiction. A former member of a legalistic, cultish church, Yolanda is passionate about helping people find freedom in Christ. She is also enthusiastic about reading good books and correcting bad grammar.


You can find Yolanda on the Internet at: