Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writers, Are You Reading?

Writers, are you reading this summer? Reading is a "must do" for any writer, experienced or aspiring.  Reading expands your thinking, expands your vocabulary, exposes you to new ideas and styles of writing and helps your own writing improve by all these means.  One of the points in the writing class I teach is "Read to Write."

Summer is a great time to do some serious reading, at least in my life.  Actually, so if fall, winter and spring for that matter!  So far this summer, I have read:

The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo with Bob DeMoss
      I couldn't put this book down!  It was a fantastic story of how far some people have the potential to go when controlled by their ego.

Memiors of a Holocaust Survivor, Icek Kuperberg by Icek Kuperberg
     I read Holocaust survivor books annually, several times throughout the year, actually.  While some parts are very hard to read because I can't imagine the horrors, I feel totally obligated to read them, thus keeping that horrid part of their history alive.  We must never forget.

Messy Church, a Multigenerational Mission for God's Family by Ross Parsley
     I started this book with great interest, but ended up scanning it for Truth.  The author, a pastor for more than 20 years, seems way too green to be realistic.The problem:  He assumes the Gospel is active in church members' lives......and nothing could be further from the truth for many church members.  Assuming the Gospel in anyone's life is a grave mistake.  It's not about church, it's about the Gospel of Christ.

Mistaken Identiry by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak
     This remarkable story is riveting, compounded by the very fact that it's true!  I've seen critics say their faith was too prominent and they just wanted the story, not the "preaching."  My opinion is that it's because of their faith they were able to cope with this tragedy with love and hope instead of bitterness and despair. In the introduction, they were very clear about their faith up front, so if one did not want to read a book on faith, they were warned ahead of time.

Last night, I went to the library and checked out:

Why I Left the Amish by Saloma Miller Furlong
     I really look forward to reading this.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
     I saw this movie, but never read the book.  It's time.

So, that's a summary of what I've been reading so far and plan to read in the next week or so. Read to write. You will be a better writer as a result.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Enticement of Blank Paper

I love a blank piece of paper.  I love a blank computer screen.  The blankness is enticing to me because it's a clean slate, representing a new beginning each and every time I sit down to write.  For me, it goes something like this:

1. As I go about my day, I'm constantly thinking.
2. This thinking leads to ideas.
3. These ideas lead to my desire to voice them.
4. My desire to voice them leads me to my paper or computer.
5. The paper or computer screen are blank......which is, to me, an invitation to write.
6. An invitation to write brings on an avalanche of writing, much of which I never even print or publish!

Thus, you can see why a blank paper or computer screen is so enticing to me.  My days are busy with my large family and that means there are days when finding time to write is challenging.

What about you? Does a blank paper or screen excite or intimidate you?  Do you feel overwhelmed by it or eager to get started?

Think about your writing style, define it for yourself and hone it as necessary.
Have fun!
And write!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Recommendation and a Book Review

I just finished one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.  It was on the "new book" shelf at my local library and I was intrigued by the title, Letters from Leaders.  Letters from Leaders is a compilation of letters the author, Henry O. Dormann, Chairman and Editor in Chief, LEADERS Magazine, requested from world leaders in politics, religion, business and philanthropy. Some of the letters, themselves, were hand-written by the people approached, on their company letterhead.  These letterheads were folded within the pages of the book, included with the print.
As I read this book, I could not help but see a strong pattern emerge.  I want to share my observations of this pattern, in hopes that you, as a writer, can sense what would make your pursuits in writing more successful.

My observations of the overriding keys to success from the leaders in this book:

1. Integrity
2. Ethics
3. Dreams
4. Respect for others - ALL others
5. Everyone needs leadership
6. Listening - requires one to stop talking
7. Be yourself - this takes courage.
8. Be a team player.
9. Focus on the success of others first.
10. Define your own success.

One of the most intriguing statements in the book was made by Theodore Forstmann, a billionaire investment pioneer, Chairman and CEO, IMG and Senior Founding Partner, Forstmann Little & Company. He said, "Don't ask me how to make a lot of money, because I don't even know. I don't even think that's a particularly worthwhile goal. Instead.......be aware of your own thought process.  Be true to yourself, because you don't have anything in the world but yourself."

My comment on that is simply that you are the only you.  Who you are is a gift from God, a uniqueness all your own.  As I type this, I'm reminded of #7 on my list above, "Be yourself - this takes courage."  It DOES take courage to be yourself because the world will attempt to mold you into something they are more comfortable with.  If the world is comfortable with me, I am not successful.

Carry on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pay Attention, Save Money

It's a well-known fact that no one can fully edit their own work.  As I teach writing and advise my students, I always recommend hiring an independent editor, especially if not working with a publishing house.  Many of my students have chosen e-publishing and independent editors are a must for any e-publisher.  But, many people avoid hiring independent editors due to the cost involved. Their work, along with their credibility as a writer, suffers as a result.

But, there are some ways you can save money on editing.  The number one way is to pay attention to your word processor.  Modern word processing programs all have built-in grammar and spelling alerts. Paying attention to them and using them will save you money on editing costs.  Why pay an editor to do what a word processor will do automatically?  All you have to do is pay attention.  For example, when Word puts a green squiggly line under a word or sentence, pay attention.  It's highly likely your grammar is off.  When you see a red squiggly line, you have a misspelled word.  Even Blogger does this now! Get to know your word processor and all its features, and use them.

Another way to save money on editing is to think outside the box.  I've made bartering deals with people who needed my editing services. That's an option for you, too.

Edit before you hire an editor.  Let your work sit for a few days, go back to it and read it through with a critical eye, editing along the way.  Do as much as you can before you hire the rest out.  Read your work out loud to yourself as this gives you a new perspective and allows you to see what you might not see otherwise.

Pay attention.
Edit before hiring editing.
Save money.