Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Five Reasons Deleting Words Can Bring a Writer Peace Instead of Anxiety


by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

It can be hard to let go of my words. I get attached. Do you?

One of the hardest things about editing our writing is deleting sentences, paragraphs, and even whole pages. It’s not easy to string words and ideas together, so why go through the anxiety of having to delete some? 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tips for Writers to Begin a New Project Successfully


by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

How exciting! You have just received an assignment to contribute a devotion to a compilation book. Or perhaps it’s time to set up a new blog series. Maybe a local church has invited you to speak at their Fall Women’s Kickoff event.


What happens next? Where do you begin to prepare and how do you follow through?

General Ways to Approach a New Writing or Speaking Project

1. IDEA

Every new project begins with an idea; either from yourself or as an assignment from someone else. What is your idea for this project? Maybe God has been reminding you that the encroaching fall is a good time to start fresh on some goals, so you want to prepare a presentation that encourages young mamas how to navigate the next season. Or at that recent writers’ conference you agreed to write a devotional on how to overcome an obstacle in life, only now it is due in one month. Maybe you took a break from blogging in August and you must get those 500 words down in order to post next week. Whatever your idea or assignment, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to guide your steps along the way.

2. TAKEAWAY

Before you write a word, ask yourself this question “When my audience/readers finish, what do I most want them to feel, to decide, to do as a result of my words?” That is called the takeaway or goal of your work. And if you determine the goal even before you write it, you can intentionally include what it takes to get your audience/readers from one place to another. Often our projects include several elements to accomplish a desired takeaway. We might want to inspire, challenge, teach, and even entertain them along the way. God can use many tools to accomplish His purposes. Once you have decided what’s most important, then you must come up with material to offer the catalyst for change. Say, because I want those young mamas just now sending their kids back to school in the Fall, to be able to find better balance in their lives, I might actually include some interactive questions, some fill-in-the-blank charts, plus lots of fun personal stories as I speak to them at their Fall kickoff. Remember, everything we write/speak must be value added to the listener/reader.

3. BREAK IT DOWN

Remember how your high school English teacher taught you do compose outlines? If you’re like me, you wondered if you would ever use that skill in life. Guess what? I use it almost every day – certainly in every writing project. When you look at your whole project, from that hook of a beginning to that satisfying closure, an outline helps you to break it down into parts. Bite sized chunks that can be accomplished step by step. You might want to use a very simple generic outline such as 1. Opening 2. Theme (tell them what you are going to say or address) 3. Statistic on why this is a felt need. 3. Biblical teaching on addressing this need 4. Personal anecdote that ties in God’s Word with your ordinary life 5. Wrap up (tell them what you said) 6. Closing and Challenge. Underneath each section, break it down to actual words, concepts, stories, quotes, questions, etc. Believe me, this works. “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch!”

4. BIRD BY BIRD

Back when author Anne Lamott was a girl, her older brother had put off writing a school report on birds until the night before it was due. He was panicked until his father came to him and suggested “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” Anne uses this story in her writing book “Bird by Bird” to say that “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” Friend, just start! Bit by bit (bird by bird) begin to tell your story in your voice. Remember your takeaway, consult your outline, and then write, write, write the first draft. It may be terrible, but at least it’s now all down on paper or computer file. You can cut and paste later. Add and takeaway birds to use in another “nest” later.

5. READ and REWRITE

Now you read it aloud. How did that sound to your ear? What words kept being repeated or made no sense at all? I find reading my work aloud helps me recognize the gaps and the overlaps. I also try to “hear” myself from another’s point of view. Am I coming across as too preachy, too whiney, too know-it-all? I know you’ve heard it before, but most of writing is rewriting. So, you must be willing to rewrite and rearrange. Trust me, your efforts (even though editing and especially self-editing can be painful) will make your work into a better, more useful piece. And that is what we aim for—serving the audience, feeding the reader, touching a hurting world in Jesus’ name. 

What happens when you have completed your project is that you consecrate all those words and all the potential outlets for sharing those words, to the Lord. Pray over them and ask God to use the words, His Scripture that was quoted, and yourself as a holy messenger of truth. Then go forth boldly through the open doors. I will be praying for you.

TWEETABLE

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 17 books and contributing author to 36+ books. Her award-winning books include Soul Strong, Life-Giving Choices, Dwelling Places, and The Courage to Write. Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and AWSA, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for ‘The Write Conversation.’ 

Whether pouring into young mamas, leading a restorative day of prayer, or coaching writers and speakers through “Encouraging Words Consulting,” she is energized by investing in people of all ages. As a communications teacher, she co-directs “reNEW – spiritual retreat for writers & speakers” and has served on the faculty of Speak Up Conference, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Florida Christian Writers Conference, Asheville Christian Writers Conference, and She Writes for Him. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, McDowell shares words from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at WWW.LUCINDASECRESTMCDOWELL.COM

Featured Image: Photo by Amel Majanovic on Unsplash

Monday, August 15, 2022

How Writers Can Market to the Homeschooling Audience Most Effectively


by Karen Whiting @KarenHWhiting

I’ve had opportunities to speak and set up tables to sell books at homeschool markets a few times. This year I doubled my sales into hundreds of dollars. They are a unique and yet diverse audience, and it helps to understand their needs.

I homeschooled my youngest child for a while and have helped my daughters as they have homeschooled. It makes a difference if you have been involved with homeschoolers. You’ll discover they invest lots of money in books, but they look for the right books for their families, from authors who share their goals.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Think Outside the Book


by Martin Wiles @LinesFromGod

“I want to write a book.”

For ten years, I have taught grammar and writing to middle schoolers, and quite a few have shared their aspirations to pen a book. Although I commend them and assure them doing so is a worthy goal, I also tell them about the roadblocks, struggles, and rejections they can expect along their journey. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Things for Writers to Remember When Others Cause You to Doubt


by Beth K. Vogt @BethVogt

Earlier this week, I was watching “American Ninja Warrior” (ANW), which is a Monday night tradition in the Vogt household. Yes, I know I may have mentioned my love of ANW in other posts. During the commercial breaks, I stared at a blank Word document and mulled over this blog post.

Friday, August 12, 2022

How Writers Can Effectively Fight the Issue of Story Stall


by MaryAnn Diorio @DrMaryAnnDiorio

If you've been writing fiction for any length of time, you have very likely experienced what I call "Story Stall." What is story stall? Besides being a tongue-twister :), story stall is a stop in the forward motion of your story while you are writing it. It is the point in your story where you get stuck and cannot move forward. Some people call this writer's block. In my opinion, story stall—like writer's block—is, at its root, nothing more than the symptom of a story problem. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Why Writers Should Revisit Their College Years to Market Their Latest Book


by Julie Lavender @JLavenderWrites

Whether you moved the tassel a handful of years ago or a handful of decades ago, tapping into your alma mater is a great place to market a new release. It’s a little outside of the box – and don’t all universities encourage outside-of-the-box learning strategies while seeking that diploma? And one that will help you reach fresh audiences to get the word out about your newest book publication. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Reasons a Writer Needs to Start Thinking about the Holidays Now


by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Even though it is just the end of the summer, it’s a great time to gather your holiday thoughts for your writing projects.

Most magazines begin several months ahead if not more. So this month would be a good time to make your list of possible article ideas for this year’s holiday season.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Discover What You Need to Write Dialect that Shines True


by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

Everyone is known for something, and me—well, it's my mountain dialect. I learned years ago that when you hail from the mountains of East Tennessee, folks are going to rag you about your accent. I decided to roll with it. 

The dialect makes me who I am, which is not such a bad thing. For me to translate that dialect into viable dialogue took a little practice. There were some things I had to come to grips with, like the cultural differences across the country. It was wrong to simply assume everyone understood the concept of going "across the gap"—something so second nature to me in both doing and speaking became a stumbling block for those above the Mason-Dixon.

As much as I love my mountain heritage and dialect, in order for it to come across as both understandable and realistic, I had to put the brakes on from time to time. Learning to write the dialogue and dialect that you speak requires thought. Follow these tips to help you pen amazing dialect in your dialogue.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Props for Writers to Use When Speaking


by Linda Goldfarb @LindaGoldfarb

Well-placed props can differentiate between an excellent talk and a life-changing experience. My first professional coach, Dwight Bain, is a prop master. Whether it’s a rubber band ball, a take-apart brain, or a simple piece of fruit, Dwight memorably drives home his point. I learned from the best.

On Stage, Props Make Your Presentation Pop

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Power of Vulnerability with Your Audience


by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us…and He will deliver us (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

Honesty about our suffering can lead to a direct message of God’s power.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Writing Tips From the Joy of Painting


by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

“Now then, let’s come right down in here and put some nice, big, strong arms on these trees. A tree needs an arm, too. It’ll hold up the weight of the forest. Little bird has to have a place to sit. There he goes.”

If you haven’t watched the Joy of Painting on YouTube, you have probably caught a glimpse of the show featuring Bob Ross on PBS. The soft-spoken artist with the afro aired on PBS from 1974, beginning with The Magic of Painting, to 1994. You can still catch his shows on reruns and YouTube. Each episode showed Ross painting a landscape in thirty minutes.

Not only was Ross a talented painter and instructor, his viewers found him to be an incredible source of peace and calmness. During the COVID lockdowns, many turned to him for an escape from all the stress they were encountering.

On his shows, his goal was to show that painting was a talent that anyone can learn. Many of the tips he shared can also pertain to writers.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Writing an Un-Put-Downable Character (Part 7 of 10): Internal Dialogue


by A.C. Williams @ACW_Author

Do you talk to yourself? I do. Some of the best conversations I have are with myself, and (though I shouldn’t admit to it) some of the best arguments I have are with myself too. So if you do it, why don’t your characters do it too?

Last time in this series we talked about how a focus on a character’s language can tell readers a lot about his or her back story. Today we’re going to talk about one of the greatest tools for characterization you’re ever going to use: INTERNAL DIALOGUE.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Essential Writing Activities that Aren't Actually Writing


by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

If I say that something is writing adjacent, do you know what I’m talking about? These are the activities that writers do that support their writing, but that are not, in fact, writing. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Your Readers Will Love the Characters You Create with These Tips


by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

Finding the Fatal Flaw in Your Characters

Every character has a fatal flaw, or a trait that will ultimately get the character into trouble. Why? Because perfect characters don’t exist. Or at least we don’t write stories about them. Imagine how tedious it would be to write (or read!) about a character who never fails, who never does anything wrong, who never has to change. Boring!

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Tips for Writers Dig Deep to Create More Compelling Characters in Your Story


by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

The more a writer knows the personality, background, and motivations about a character, the more compelling the story. 

A story is a snapshot of a character’s life, the noteworthy parts with the boring aspects conveniently trimmed away. Much about your character will not be included. But like a house that is built on a foundation not visible, the structure underneath determines a good deal about how the visible part responds to good and tough situations.

Monday, August 1, 2022

How to Manage the Waiting Part Our Writing Journey


by Kristen Hogrefe Parnell @KHogrefeParnell

As I’m writing this post, I’m eight months pregnant. Our active little boy is transforming my belly into a wave pool, and I’m gingerly massaging his foot to encourage him to stop poking my ribs.

This miracle of life is due shortly after you’ll be reading these words. He is an answer to my husband’s and my prayers, and it’s been a journey to get to this place. Our son is a beautiful example of the truth that good things take time, and that timing is something God controls, not us.

The same can often be said about our writing journeys. We might feel “ready” to pitch that project or receive that long-sought contract, but instead, maybe an editor or agent tells us our proposal isn’t ready or the dreaded rejection email lands in our inbox instead.