What I’ve learned about writing so far…

What I’ve learned about writing so far…

When it’s come to my journey of writing, I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about myself in the process. And there’s been plenty to learn. If there’s one thing that has stood out, it’s that writing is all about the right moment. It’s both versatile and formulaic, and it really depends on the moment when choosing which route to take. I’ve also learned…

  • I enjoy editing perhaps a little more than writing. It’s a good thing I want to be an editor, then. It’s especially great when I have writer’s block and need something to work on. I have found, though, that even when I do have something to write, I tend to enjoy making existing pieces better.
  • Goals are goldFocused goals are the best. With each draft of my novel I established a small list, generally 2-3 items, of specific things to focus on when editing and rewriting. For example, with my current draft, it’s all about adding detail and increasing word count by 5,000.
  • I’m not reading enough. No matter how much it’s been stressed, it should always be stressed some more. If you are a writer, you must read. You know what always looks great? When you know your authors. Therefore, it helps you in the industry to be well-versed.
  • I pretend I’m an actor. Actors ask themselves the question, “How would this character respond?” If I’m not physically acting out something, I will at least give voice to dialogue or narrate prose. I pretend I’m an actor playing this character in a movie. I think what it helps with the best is bringing emotions to life. If I’m not sure how a character should be expressing a feeling, I put myself in their shoes.
  • The process of writing is however long you make it. You can make time to write. The question is whether you will.
  • I doubt my ability to be versatile. A writer should learn to write in different voices. I often convince myself that I can only write one way, but then I end up succeeding. I still have doubt, but I’m working on it.

 

What are some new things you’ve learned on your journey so far?

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5 Things that may benefit your dream

5 Things that may benefit your dream

Regardless of what dream you have, there are some things we can all do that will benefit the accomplishment of that dream. Here are few things that you can do that just might help you get a little closer:

  1. Educate yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be going to college. With the amount of resources available to us right at our fingertips, you can teach yourself anything. Jump online, read a book, or find an expert, and study up.
  2. Learn a secondary trade. For the sake of becoming more rounded, get good at something other than your dream. Not only will you have something to fall back on, being knowledgeable in other areas opens up more opportunities for you.
  3. Develop your reading and writing skills. Even if your dream job has nothing to do with words of any kind, having good writing skills will always, always be needed, especially in the beginning stages. You’ll be writing lots of stuff to lots of people to land those golden opportunities, so always be developing your skills.
  4. Stay active. I don’t mean physically, although that would also be a very good thing to keep up. I mean socially, economically, culturally, and environmentally. If you find yourself living a circle kind of pattern, find something new to get involved in. It doesn’t have to be longterm. And if you have an idea, act on it. If it fails, move on to a new one.
  5. Do what builds your confidence. If baking cookies makes you feel confident, or shooting hoops, or singing music covers, or critiquing movies, or framing photos, you name it! do it. Confidence will benefit everything about you, not just your dream.

There’s much more you can do to help make your dream a reality. What do you do to achieve your dream?

As a Writer…What can you do?

As a Writer…What can you do?

As a writer, the following thoughts constantly cross my mind. Do they cross yours? Not to toot our own horns, but writers have a pretty tough and powerful job. We make history, you know. We create worlds. We change lives with a few words. And we have our nagging doubts.

As a writer…you worry about getting a writing job.

The great thing about writing is that even if you’re not doing it for a living at the moment, you can still do it. Just keep writing, and use the non-writing job as an opportunity to gain experience and inspiration for your writing. And hey, if it’s an easy job with a minimal schedule, more time to write!

As a writer…you worry about getting the right job.

Just as I don’t believe that there is someone who is “the one,” (don’t beat me up about that now) I don’t believe there is a job that is “the one.” If an opportunity arrises, take it. Every position, however long you have it, provides some kind of substance that you take with you, even if it is an unpleasant job. Rather than try to determine if a job is the right job, look at it as simply a valuable experience that you can develop from.

As a writer…you keep thinking “I can do better.”

This kind of thinking is a weakness which is also a strength, and vise versa. It’s good to believe that you can do better; it will motivate you. But it’s important to keep this thinking and its effect in check, else it will quickly do the opposite. If you begin to notice that this thinking is causing you to doubt and give up, stop it in its tracks right there. Find better, healthier motivations.

As a writer…you can’t pinpoint your craft.

You’ve heard the question. When you tell people you’re a writer, they ask, “Oh, what do you write?” And you don’t know what to answer. Right now you dabble in different genres and formats. That’s great! You’re a writer; you’re not required to pick a genre. But I completely understand that you want to know what your style is. Well, just keep writing, and pay attention to yourself. What kind of story do your thoughts habitually drift to? And perhaps the biggest hint of your style is what you read. If your reading taste is mystery or fantasy or young adult or nonfiction, more than likely that’s your writing taste.

As a writer…you sometimes obsess about numbers.

I’m guilty of this, counting the number of people following my blog, or the amount of minutes I write each day, or the number of words in my novel. But I’m a writer. I work with words, not numbers. Numbers should not be our business, at least not obsessively. And, whatever you do, be careful of counting that one certain number that can really mess with you…money :-).

As a writer…you wonder what you accomplish with writing.

Any artist questions why they do what they do from time to time. An artistic career doesn’t often have tangible, spreadsheet results that one can share. The result of an artistic career is the creation of art, and art is something that the world cannot do without. Maybe to survive, but not to live. Whenever I question if my writing is accomplishing anything, I remind myself that what I am accomplishing is making art, which people need to live. And writing is a very powerful outlet. You can change thoughts, opinions, or decisions with what you write. Just think of that.

As a writer…you question your editing ability.

If you think your editing skills can improve, then there’s no harm in improving them! Read books, research web articles, take a class, interview an editor, whatever! A writer can always improve their skills, especially with editing. What also helps me is reading with a critic’s mind. Reread one of your favorite novels with the mind of an editor, seeing what makes it good and what could make it better. For now, if you want some good editing done on your writing, ask someone else to critique it for you. That’s what professional editors are for!

As a writer…you think you don’t read enough.

You cannot be a writer without being a reader. But luckily those of us who want to write have a natural draw and love of reading. Things like our life schedules can make it difficult to make time to read, or, if we are little more honest, the intrusion of cell phones and Netflix turns us into lazy butts. Just like what I learned with everything else in my life that I want to be doing, you have to make it a priority. Treat it as much of a demanding aspect as going to work. After all, it has its rewards. If you want to read more, then you have to discipline yourself to read more. Be patient with yourself. The point of discipline is trial and error. Let the desire to be a better writer motivate you.

5 Books that changed my life (and you should read them)

We all have those special books that really made an impact on our lives, and we can never forget the stories. They go through our heads again and again. Here are five books that personally affected me:

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. This series is what basically what birthed and defined my interest in writing, and what landed C.S. Lewis as my absolute favorite author. I almost feel as if these books were written just for me. Their beautifully pure aura of magic and childlike adventure whisks even the oldest among us away, and makes us all dream of going to Narnia.

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. Everything about this book was mind-blowing and stirring-deep-in-the-soul. By page three, I was sold. The kind of depth of emotion this novel stirs up, mostly through Zusak’s exquisite writing, is one that sticks with you forever. It’s one of those novels I tell everyone, everyone, to read. You must!

The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book amazed me more so for it’s author. This man created not only a fictional world but languages, races, a history, and more. The Silmarillion is literally a history book of a nonexistent world. And this was all in this one man’s mind! That right there is an inspiration to writers.

Surprised by Joy, By C.S. Lewis. This story is amazing and so inspiring, and it’s an autobiography! Whether one shares the faith of Lewis or not, it’s such a beautiful story to learn about. His faith transformation and journey of becoming the writer of The Chronicles of Narnia and other beloved novels are just a few factors that make him my absolute favorite author.

The War of Art, By Steven Pressfield. Playing off the infamous title The Art of War, this book addresses our inner enemies of creativity and discipline. It expresses how to overcome our ambition inhibitions and continually, and successfully, produce and create. Already on board with the philosophy, this book helped me apply the principles and actions that made me a better person.

 

Bonus: The Screwtape Letters, By C.S. Lewis. Yes, another Lewis book, but I did already mention he’s my favorite author. This book, comprised of letters written from a senior demon to his nephew, a demon-in-training charged with the task of the damnation of a particular young man on earth, was eerily and bone-tingling mesmerizing. Not because it was spooky, which it really wasn’t, but because it felt markedly real. It made me think that this really can be the way that demons go about trying to sabotage our eternity.

5 Little, tiny dreams

For all of us, there are those big lifelong dreams, and then there are those little, tiny dreams that we can’t help but think about and desire to fulfill. They seem so small and insignificant to others, but to us, if we can just fulfill it once, it would make our world. Here are 5 of my own:

  1. Jump in a pile of leaves. They never happen in Texas, and so I’ve never been able to do it. I want to know that wonderful sensation of landing in a frothy pile of autumn leaves.
  2. Sing a worship song. I’ve sung solos before in church, but it was more a performance than for praise and worship. It’s something I think about often…
  3. Read by candlelight. Technically I could have been fulfilling this my whole life, and yet I haven’t done it yet. It has to be on the perfect night, though, like a stormy winter night.
  4. Walk through snow. I’ve seen snow, but not legit, real snow. I want to walk through it, bundled in boots and a coat and everything in between.
  5. Keep a scrapbook. Though this dream would span a number of years, it’s just a little dream that I want to start and continue on.

What little dreams do you hope to fulfill?