Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Haiku Challenge

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

This time of year, between Christmas and New Year's is a sort of no-man's land for me. It's a time to rest, reflect, and get ready for the year to come. I have good intentions of working this week, but life—and laziness—seems to intrude.

Today I'd like to offer a something fun to do. 

Join me in a Haiku Challenge.

The rules are simple.
  • Follow the standard Haiku format
    • 5 syllables
    • 7 syllables
    • 5 syllables
  • Explore the subject of Why Do You Write?
  • Post your Haiku (or more than one) in the comments section below along with your name.
  • I'll leave the contest open until midnight on Friday (EST)
Here are three I wrote, just to get you started:

Why I Write
A Life speeding by
Chaos buries me alive
Writing resurrects

Why I Write
Words flow from fingers
Images captured in ink
Black and white colors my world

Why I Write
God gave me a gift
Sharp words cut into my soul
Bloodletting brings peace

Stretch your writing muscles as we get ready for the new year. Oh, and just to entice you a little bit more, I'm going to draw a name from those who leave a Haiku in the comments section for a $15 Amazon gift card.

Don't forget to join the conversation!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Writer's Alphabet—Things Every Writer Needs to Know

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Lately I've had a lot of folks ask me what it takes to become a writer. 

The real answer takes hours, but today I decided to just boil it down to the basics. 

I’ve done several of these ABC posts here on The Write Conversation and today I’m adding one more. I just can’t seem to help it, they’re so much fun to do.

The Writer's Alphabet

A is for Adventure. The Writer’s life is definitely full of surprising twists and turns—we never know when we’ll be ambushed by an idea or spend half a day looking for just the right word.

B is for Balance
B is for Balance. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the writing life. We all need to practice a healthy balance.

C is for Cathartic. The experiences I’ve had in life always seem to creep into my writing, even if they’re unrecognizable to anyone else. Processing what I’ve been through with words has been a good thing.

D is for Discipline. To be a writer, you must…well…write. It’s not often easy, but it is fulfilling.

E is for Encourage. Yes, we need to encourage others with our words. But even more importantly, we need to use our words to encourage ourselves. Don’t be your own worst enemy by constantly talking down to yourself.

F is for Failure. Failure is an option, and anyone who’s told you differently is lying. I often learn more through failure than through success. It’s painful, but knowing something good comes out of my mistakes often makes them less painful.

G is for Gratitude. Having the freedom of being a writer is a gift I will never take for granted.

H is for Hard. Choosing to be a writer means a lifetime of hard work. It’s rewarding and satisfying, but not easy.

I is for Illustrate
I is for Illustrate. Yes, that’s an artsy sort of word, but I chose it on purpose. Never forget that you are an artist and you illustrate life with words.

J is for Jealousy. It’s far too easy to compare our own journey with that of other writers. It’s easy, but not productive. Each of us has a different path and we need to be striving for excellence, not keeping score with one another.

K is for Knowledge. As writers, the education never ends. We never arrive at the place of knowing it all, so we’re always continuing our education.

L is Long. There are no shortcuts in the writing life. When we choose this path we need to remember to take the long view.

M is for Manna. For me, the words often appear only as I need them. They are gifts from God.

N is for Networking. I know, we’re all introverts and can’t stand the thought of interacting. But the truth is, we need each other. Not just to earn a living and get paid. We need one another for encouragement and to be reminded that we really aren’t crazy.

O is for Odd. That’s what writers are—odd. We look at things just a little differently from the rest of the world. That’s not something to be ashamed of, it’s a gift.

P is for Peace. We must learn to be content with our gift and the way it plays out. This business isn’t always fair, but things do tend to even out over time. To experience the heights of joy, we must be willing to walk through the valley’s of despair.

Q is for Quality over Quantity.  It's easy to get caught up in the numbers game. We look for the number of words, the number of published pieces, the number of followers, reviews, etc. But it's the quality we need to focus on, no matter what the numbers say.

R is for Rhythm
R is for Rhythm. Good writers know that words must have rhythm. There’s a certain cadence necessary for everything we write.

S is for Send. We were giving this gift of writing for a purpose. We’re being sent into the world to share what we’ve observed. This means we need to hit send and be willing to risk having others read what we’ve written.

T is for Trust. I need to trust that God has called me as a writer and that my words have value.

U is for Unique. So often writers struggle with the fact that they don’t have anything new to share. The truth is that each of us is one-of-a-kind. Even if we all write about the exact same thing, it will be from a different and unique perspective.

V is for Vanquish. There are lots of battles that come with the writing life and the most powerful is fear. We must face the fear we face and vanquish it.

W is for Want. We must each decide how much we want to write. Finding time to write is a lie. The truth is that we must carve out time to write. To do that, we must want it badly enough to give up some things to make it a priority.

X is for Xerophilous. This word means flourishing in a dry environment. As writers, we must write whether we’re in the mood or not. We write when we’re full and when we’re empty. Some of my best work has come by learning to flourish in a dry time.

Y is for Yes. It’s easy to say yes to doing something we know we can accomplish. The true test is saying yes, when we’re uncertain. Being a writer means saying yes—yes to new things, yes to impossible deadlines, and yes to always stretching and growing.

Z is for Zoo. And that’s about as good a description of the writing life as I've found!

These are the things I’ve come up with. I’d love to know what you’d add or change to my Writing Life Alphabet.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


“Never forget that writers are artists who illustratelife with words.” - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)    

Monday, December 28, 2015

Make Progress on Your Writing Journey in 2016 by Taking Time to Look Back

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

The writer’s path is a journey of a lifetime—one fraught with discovery and discouragement. We can avoid some of its pitfalls if we define that path early on. Today, I want to share some insights into my writing journey and the markers I look for to help me stay at least in the vicinity of the path.

This time of year, between Christmas and New Year's, my thoughts turn backward. I use this time to evaluate the past year and prepare for the next one. I've given up New Year's Resolutions completely and find the freedom from those expectations (and failures) a major relief. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Setting Goals for Your Writing Career

by Brenda McGraw @BrendaMMcGraw

Setting Goals for Your Writing Career
I hope you had a very Merry Christmas. Can you believe it is the end of another year?

How did you do with your goals and plans this year?

The end of the year is the time to evaluate the current year 2015, before heading into 2016, so we can begin with a fresh start.

Sometimes this can be difficult. We can make excuses of what we didn’t get accomplished or we can resolve to execute the plans we will accomplish the upcoming new year.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Power of Small

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Have you ever attended a writers’ conference where they gave an award for “Smallest Blog in the Blogosphere”? How about a gold-embossed certificate for “Fewest Pageviews”? “Lowest Royalty Check”? “Subterranean Amazon Book Rating”? “Facebook Post with No Shares”?

Some of my writer friends have blog posts that have gone viral. Others have subscriber bases numbering in the Ks (15K, 20K). Some have dozens of books to their credit, and others actually get advances on their publishing contracts (I know, what’s a publishing contract?). They have editors pitching books to them instead of the other way around.

But they are exceptions.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ride the Wings of Morning

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

In my prayer time recently, I found myself meditating on Psalm 139:9,10 (NLT).
If I ride the wings of morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

My first reading of this focused on no matter where His plan takes me, He will be with me, guiding and supporting.

Then my spirit reminded me of something our pastor said when we were thinking of moving to Texas: “If you’re going to miss God’s timing, it’s better to be behind Him instead of ahead of Him.”

And I realized that even if I were so far ahead of God, I was as lost as a goose in a blizzard, I was not alone. It might feel like it—like I’m lost, without hope or anchor.

But it’s not. Because He’s still there. He’s waiting patiently for me to come to my spiritual senses, to wake up to the fact I’m living in disobedience. He’s waiting for me to recognize it, to admit I stepped out too far or I stepped out on my own strength or my own will, not His.

He’s waiting with loving eyes and forgiving arms.

He’s waiting with His eternal patience.

He’s waiting to guide me with His hand and support me with His strength.

All I have to do is turn to Him.

Have you ever felt so out of God’s plan it seemed like there was no way back?

Feeling like there's no way back to God's plan? Ride the Wings of Morning - @RiverBendSagas (Click to Tweet)

Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. 

He serves as Associate Director of North Texas Christian Writers. 

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. 

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.