. . . . to yours
A few years ago, I started writing and appreciated the help and encouragement that I received. So, I want to help others who are starting to write, struggling to write, or scared to write. I've been there! And writing isn't always easy. So this blog is my way of trying to help and encourage others to "move forward and conquer the blank page!"
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
It was amazing.
God provided me the perfect roommate. We didn't know each other before the conference, but we were so obviously meant to be together as roommates. We even have the same shoe size! Yes, she had shoes for me to borrow after I developed blisters from my own pairs.
God also provided me much encouragement as a writer. I was blessed with authors that helped direct and encourage me. And He used me to help direct new writers to classes and speakers who could help them.
But what came out of the conference that is even more amazing than all of that, is a fellow writer and speaker whose world turned upside down during the conference. She regularly brings her mom with her to the conferences. But on the day before the conference ended, her mother suffered two aneurysms. Neither of them live in the city, or state for that matter, where she is hospitalized.
You might expect the speaker to be devastated at the possibility of losing her precious mother. While there is sadness, to be sure, I have witnessed what I know can only come from God. This daughter loves her mom so evidently. But she also loves Jesus as evidently. Of course she wants to have her mom here on earth, but more importantly, she wants what God wants. Even if that means He calls her mother home.
I am truly humbled to watch someone let God have His way in her life. Especially in such a difficult time. I don't know how she does it, yet I do. But this hasn't happened by accident in her life. She knows Him in such a way that the grace is there and she's walking in it, living in it.
As much as I want my words to encourage or challenge my readers, I realize that walking with my God, and learning to hear His voice is truly most important. And I have been blessed to see what that looks like.
Monday, April 5, 2010
So what rules do you need to know about writing? First and foremost, go back to school. Remember grammar classes? Yep. You need to use proper grammar. Articles or novels with grammatical errors will cause you to lose a chance for publication quicker than anything. Be meticulous about spelling, punctuation, and verb tenses. If you master these, you'll have an easier time getting your work published. Years ago, publishers had more money to pay editors who spent a lot of time working with new authors, helping them with grammar. Not any more. They expect you to do your homework first and present them with well crafted material.
Now, will everything your high school teacher told you help you see your work published? Not exactly. Remember your research papers where long, intricate sentences and large words showed your brain power? Well, they don't work as well in articles or in novels. (Unless you do technical writing. But that's not the primary focus of this blog.)
So, you need to decide what you want to write and learn from some of the best. Is there a particular columnist you enjoy? Study their style and syntax. What about your favorite author? Study the books you read by them.
One thing I have learned about writing articles is that you can have a more conversational style. Notice I talk to you directly in this blog? Yep. That's conversational. Notice I don't always use complete sentences? Writing in complete sentences is an English rule your high school teacher drilled into your head. But it's modified in writing for the web or in articles.
What about novel writing? Again, you can vary your sentence length and you don't always have to write in complete sentences. But you need to learn what works in your chosen field of written communication.
So, where do you start doing your homework? The Chicago Manual of Style is a great resource. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is another resource you need to procure. Get these volumes and keep them handy when you write.
Study great writers and then strike out to conquer the blank page, covering it with your voice and your message.
Until next time, blessings!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
If you want to succeed as a writer, you must be willing to submit to the rules of the writing industry. Period.
It's easy to pour our heart out in our writing and become as attached to it as our firstborn. It becomes our "baby." We think it's wonderful and that everyone should agree with us. Or, we think our newly created manuscript will hit the best seller list. How close to reality are either of these attitudes? I hate to break it to you. Not very.
You see, in the first case, becoming too attached to our writing makes us blind to see our mistakes. Since we spent hours thinking of the story line and even more trying to get the ideas down on the computer, we become deeply invested emotionally with our manuscript. Writing a novel truly is like birthing a child. Months of dreams, excitement, discomfort, frustration, lots of labor and then you produce . . . see where I'm going? No mother wants to be told her baby isn't beautiful. Although truth be told, I have five kids and one of mine just wasn't a cute baby. And I have an absence of photos to prove it! (Yes, they turned out fine but I'll keep you guessing which one it was.)
In the second case, think about this. Is there a novel out there that hasn't had some editing done to it? I'm not talking self-printing. The best sellers out there right now have had someone look over their book and EDIT it. You're not the exception.
I'm not trying to sound mean in any way. My goal is to help you get into the right mindset about writing so you'll have the best chance of succeeding. You must be willing to check your pride at the door and listen to others who know more than you do.
This week, think about these questions. Am I writing because I believe I have something important to say? Am I writing for validation? Can I be humble and learn from constructive criticism? Will I quit at the first sign of difficulty or rejection?
Only you know if you're really ready for the journey of writing. And it is a journey. If you love the process, enjoy the prose and have a purpose, then you will succeed.
But no one else can define success for you. Maybe you'll write a newsletter your neighbors will love. Maybe a church bulletin that makes people laugh. Maybe you'll write articles that touch lives. And yes, maybe you will write the next great American novel.
Spend some time thinking about the "why" question. Why am I doing this?
Next time we'll cover some of the basic rules you need to know about the industry.
Until then, write something and conquer the blank page!
Monday, March 22, 2010
I'm going to start a little series on Writing Rules 101. It will include information on mistakes many first time writers make and how to avoid them. These mistakes are not limited to grammatical errors, but deal with topics like trying to shop a manuscript, trying to contact an editor, etc. But it will also cover some grammar rules.
If you have a question you would like answered, please feel free to let me know. If I don't know the answer off-hand, I will contact some fellow writers and find the answer or point you in the right direction to explore on your own.
So, I hope to see you on Thursday for the first installment of Writing Rules 101.
Until then, may you find the courage to conquer the blank page!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Because I have been blessed with writers who have encouraged me to pursue my love of writing, I hope to encourage you to write and write well.
My journey of writing started with a horrible case of strep throat. It landed me in bed for a week. During that time, I corresponded with Vonda Skelton. I hadn't even met her yet, but she told me of a local writer's meeting that she and Edie Melson had started. When I felt better, I attended and listened to what they had to say. Working on my craft, I kept meeting with them and eventually attended my first writer's conference at Ridgecrest in North Carolina. Again, I listened to what they said and left the conference with my first paid writing assignment.
Well, in the ensuing years, much has transpired. There are times when writing came easily and times when life got in the way. But my writing buddies helped keep me going. So, I will share more of the lessons I have learned along the way and hope that you will find the courage to conquer the blank page!
Until next time, blessings!!