Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Seasoned Veteran (From the Archives)

I’m getting geared up for Inscribe’s annual fall conference at the end of this month and it made me think of another conference I was at earlier this year. where literary agent Les Stobbe was the keynote. I can’t say enough about what a truly humble and helpful man he is. He is a real cheerleader in his field and highly respected in the industry. Here are some golden  takeaways from this wise elder.
Les says he felt ‘called’ to be a writer from an early age and outlined for us many of the ‘God moments’ in his writing life. These were events, opportunities, and even trials that, in hindsight, were training for later work in his career as a writer, editor and agent. God moments may involve taking risks. Even mundane tasks could be training for other things. For instance, he graded essays at one point to make money but it turned out to be wonderful training as an editor. I was very inspired to write down my own ‘God moments’ (although I am still working on that…) and it is encouraging to see how God weaves all these things into the tapestry of one’s life purpose.
He also used Moses as a great Biblical example of following one’s calling. Moses had a lot of objections but God said, “I will be with you.” If God has called us to be writers then it is our job to obey, not question His wisdom. if we rely on Him, He will do the work through us.
Les challenged us to always strive for excellence. Work hard and seize each opportunity God puts in your path.. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. All experiences connect and have an impact on the outcome as a whole.
His final advice – and perhaps the most important – was to always engage infocused prayer.
The Christian life abounds with opportunities. Be prepared in season and out of season.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Where it All Began

This is the actual typewriter I used to type my first novel. 

I had borrowed it from my mother some thirty years ago when I first started writing but gave it back long ago. My daughter rescued it from my mother's house after she passed away. I hadn't seen it in years but was surprised when I was visiting recently and it was out on the desk. My granddaughter was using it to play 'old-fashioned' office. It was a little like seeing an old friend. I would never want to go back to those days, but it brought back memories, that's for sure. When I went to write the short note above, I was surprised at how much energy it took to actually make it work! I think this forced a more intentional type of writing. There was no 'delete' button and authors were more careful about what they actually let their fingers (and minds) do and say. I'm glad times have changed, but there was something very visceral - very connected - that happened when clacking away at that old typewriter. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Take Charge of Your Writing

Summer vacation is coming to an end, and with it, all the extra time for writing. Inevitably, I set pretty lofty goals for myself. While I don’t always meet every objective, I usually do get a lot accomplished during the summer. However, I read a book recently that made me take a good, long look at my preferred mode of operation.

In his book Million Dollar Productivity, Kevin J. Anderson says that waiting for a large block of time is not the best way to approach writing if your goal is to become more productive. The danger, he says, is that waiting for that large block of time becomes an excuse for inactivity during the rest of the year. I think he’s right. I’ve seen this play out in my own life, especially during the winter months right after Christmas. Even though I have plenty of time in the evenings, I don’t always ‘feel’ like sitting down to that work in progress and opt for watching TV instead.

He has several pieces of advice to help combat the excuses:
1.     Get into the habit of writing on a daily basis, even if it is only for a half hour.
2.     Learn to write in smaller chunks. A few words are better than no words.
3.     Have several projects on the go at one time. This way, if you get stuck with one project, you can still be moving forward with another.
4.     Recognize that writing is not the same as editing. Allow first drafts to be rough. You will get more words on the page that way.
5.     Guard your writing time from the snares of social media and email. There is a time for those activities, but not during your writing time.
6.     Think outside the box. He uses a recording device and dictates his rough drafts while hiking. Talk about doubling up on productivity!

Most of this advice is fairly simple and quite doable. In fact, I implement most of these ideas already, minus the dictation – an idea which I find fascinating and which I just might want to try. I have also found that having a deadline really helps me focus, (when left to my own devises, I tend to wander off the path a bit) so setting your own deadlines is a useful strategy that helps to trick you into getting more done.

It all boils down to what works best for YOU, as an individual writer. Whether you take the summer off or find it helps you get more writing done, it boils down to one thing: there are no excuses. It’s up to you to take charge of your own writing.

Much of this article originally appeared on Inscribe's professional writers blog, August, 2016. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summertime Links for August 2016

Can you believe August is almost over? I can't! That means it will be back to school before I know it.

Here are some 'hot' summer links from this past month:

August 15: Write (and love) Like an Athlete Inscribe Writers' Online. More important than training and commitment is the LOVE of the game - even for writers.

August 27: Summer Sunset Approaching - The Word Guild blog. Some scriptures to uplift your day.

August 15: Step By Step the Nick Stephenson Way. I discuss the revolutionary marketing course that has taken the writing world by storm. (On my new website.)

August 5: More, Faster and Better - book review on the Inscribe Writers Online blog.

Finally, I've been reposting several character interviews from the Neighbours Series on my other blog:
 - Interview with Lester Tibbett
-  Interview with Sherri Chan
-  Interview with Patsi Tibbett