In the Nick of Time

By Crystal Hayduk

Christmas is only a few days away. Unless you’re one of those organized and efficient types who plan far in advance, chances are panic is setting in because your heart is full but your hands are empty. You desire to fill a stocking or put a memorable gift under the tree for that special someone.  Maybe you spend Christmas Eve at the department store in search of a previously unclaimed prize, or scour the local drug store for a last-minute token before dawn on Christmas morning.

Like the angel of the Lord said when greeting the shepherds the night Jesus was born, I say to you: Fear not. For behold, I bring you a great idea for a memorable Christmas gift that will cause great joy for writers everywhere. For to you is given this day the easiest solution ever–it is a contribution to help fund an experience like no other. This shall be the sign: you will find the gift in a plain white envelope.

st-davids-christian-writers-conference-registration

And the writers will say to each other, “Let’s go to Grove City June 21- 25, 2017, and attend the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference that we have heard about.”

And after the writers had attended the conference, they spread the word about what they had learned and how they had been encouraged, and all were amazed at what the writers said and wrote.

Registration for the next St. Davids Christian Writers Conference is expected to open in early 2017. But in the meantime, think about the many ways to give the gift of conference to someone you care about. Perhaps you can cover the full cost of registration. Maybe you can afford to cover just tuition or room and board. If your resources are more limited, any conferee could use a gas card to help with transportation costs, or a gift card to cover the cost of meals while traveling. A contribution of any amount that will help get your family member or friend to conference would be greatly appreciated.

When you help get a writer to conference, you are truly providing a gift that keeps on giving. Conference benefits include information and education, skill advancement, networking, encouragement, inspiration–among friendly people in an inviting environment.

Maybe best of all, your gift will nurture and support a writer’s calling and talent.

Christmas Eve is just around the corner, but you can still manage to invest in someone’s life with a simple gift–in the nick of time.

*********

Registration for the June 2017 St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference is scheduled to open in early January. Fee for full-time conferees staying on campus with all meals included is $564. Other plans available at reduced prices.

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Choosing An Editor

by Sue A. Fairchild

When a new author contacts me about editing work, I always cringe a bit inside because their first question inevitably is, “How much do you charge?” (Why is everyone’s first thought about money?) Now, I know my worth (especially in the editing realm), but all too often I see that authors will go for the cheapest editor they can find. This is not always the best practice.

I read this blog post from Richard Adin this morning on “The American Editor.” What insightful info! I suggest you read it and take every nuance to heart. What Mr. Adin is saying here is that money is not solely the basis of what you should be considering when picking your editor. And I agree.

Let’s consider this: You want to buy a toaster. (Does anyone still use toasters?) You buy the cheapest one because, well, it’s just for making toast. That makes sense. If it dies next week, you only have to go buy another. And, chances are, it won’t die next week so that’s even better.

BUT. Now think about your novel. Your baby. You’ve spent how long agonizing over it, seeking out the best possible words, and giving up early mornings and nights to write (while avoiding the kids and hubby) just so you could have a manuscript that might actually sell. And now you need an editor, but you have no money (because you’ve spent too long working on this novel and not making any). So you choose an editor who promises to edit the entire 100,000-word manuscript for $100. What a bargain! Soon your masterpiece will be out there in the world for everyone to read!

Every. One.

some-editors-want-to-change-your-writing-some-want-to-help

So when that two-bit editor doesn’t do a good job (because who could do that job correctly for $100?), every single person who reads your baby, your life’s work, will see every misspelled word, every gap in the timeline, and every error that editor left behind. (And don’t think you don’t make errors. We all do. It’s a fact. We are blind to our own mistakes—a novel always needs a second set of professional eyes.)

Do you want a manuscript fraught with errors that people won’t want to read? I don’t think so.

As a legitimate editor, I don’t want that, either. So here is what I do for new clients.

  1. I don’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep. Until I see your work, I have no idea of the quality of your writing. Don’t take that the wrong way—you might be a great story teller, but just a bad speller.
  2. I give my per-hour rate ($50), but I also suggest a small free sample edit of your work. This serves two purposes: 1) You can see how I edit; and 2) I can see how you write.
  3. I give the big picture. When I’ve completed your sample edit (which I time myself for so I can get a good idea of how long your whole story will take), I provide you with a total cost.
  4. I give options. I like to work within an author’s budget and I want to still give them the best possible editing I can. So, if I know the work is going to take a lot and they are low on funds, we spread out the editing (and the billing). After all, it took you two years to write this baby; why should it be edited in less than a week?

Here are some things I want you to consider if you’re looking for an editor:

  1. It’s a relationship. Every person I edit for starts a friendship. I invest in their work just as much as they have and I get to know that author over time. This is essential in keeping an author’s voice. How can I, as an editor, not get to know the author a bit and keep their voice?
  2. It’s not a race. You didn’t write this book overnight. You invested your precious time into it. Let the editor have their time, too.

One last thought…my dad is a carpenter. When he makes something, he first cuts out the wood, then puts the framing of the piece together (your first draft), then he sands it down a few times (your second and third—or more—drafts), then he adds the stain (my first round of editing) and then, finally, the polish or the lacquer that makes it shine (my final editing pass). Good, quality things take time and effort in many different ways. Good books do, too.

* This post was originally published on Sue’s Simple Snippets.

*********************************************************************************

frontalshoteditedSue is a freelance editor and OCD sufferer (which works well for editing). She works with a variety of clients through the Christian Editor Connection as well as a secular online publisher. Her strengths are substantive editing for the Christian market, but she enjoys editing novels and stories of many genres (YA being her current favorite). She can be found at Sue’s Simple Snippets and @suefair48 on Twitter.

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Interview with Faculty Member: Carol Hamilton

by Linda M. Au

What types of writers will benefit from your class on public speaking? What stage of their careers might they be in?

Writers have a message to share. Public speaking gives them another avenue to proclaim the words God has put on their hearts.

Editors prefer authors with the desire and ability to promote and sell their books. Improving public speaking skills will benefit published authors by helping them share their message and sell more books. Writers who strive toward publication can develop a platform which will make them more appealing to editors.

Who needs to know how to speak in public? Writers tend to be introverted, so public speaking may be difficult for some of us. Why can’t we just sit behind our keyboards and write?

Publishing houses don’t have the funding to heavily promote the books they publish. They rely on their authors. I understand introverts and have tricks to help them feel more comfortable presenting to an audience.

You always seem so self-confident and full of poise when you speak. Must we be born with these traits to succeed as you do, or can some of this be learned?

What a nice compliment, Linda. Thank you! I’m always nervous before I speak. I use that adrenaline for extra vigor during the presentation. Usually I tell God I prefer to stay home, but that I will share the message He has for me, for His glory, and I ask Him to guide and help me. He gives me confidence through Christ.

Some world-class professionals say if they stop being nervous before a speech, they’ll quit because their edge will be gone.

I know people who were so anxious speaking before others they shook or couldn’t get the words out. They learned the skills, overcame their fears, and are now comfortable making presentations.

How much of a modern-day writer’s success needs to be tied up in public speaking? What sorts of public speaking should a writer be doing?

How many books do they want to sell? Do they have a message that will benefit others? Will people grow from what God has placed on their hearts to share?

Often book signings are unsuccessful, but if you provide entertainment or information your sales can improve.

Non-fiction writers tend to have a topic they can expound on in a presentation. What about fiction writers? In this class we’ll study your fiction and find a theme or message you can develop.

There are many places authors can speak gratis with the opportunity to sell books. In the workshop, we’ll discuss obtaining gigs and find ways to be paid for presentations.

Thank you for asking these thoughtful questions, Linda. Public Speaking for Writers will provide skills for anxious authors and professional tips for seasoned speakers. Everyone can improve for His glory.

**********************************************************************************

Hamilton

Carol Hamilton is associated with National Speakers Association, Toastmasters International, American Christian Fiction Writers, Mission to the World Disaster Response Ministry and others. In the Thursday-Saturday workshop “Public Speaking for Writers,” Carol will share practical ways to prepare and present an engaging talk for any audience. Click here to register.

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Poetry: New Truth From Old Stuff

by Lora Zill

This class at St. Davids Conference this year will appeal to poets at any level, but all wordsmiths will benefit. Learning to write poetry teaches the nonfiction or fiction writer how to choose the right word and create sensory imagery with layered meanings.

I will talk about the process of writing poetry, its art and craft. We will learn techniques and devices and develop a feel for the art of language and how it works.  I encourage participation so come ready to offer your insights into the artistic writing process! Of course, you are welcome to come and just absorb.

I’ll share favorite poems as examples of art and craft. I will bring lots of hands-on activities, like seed catalogs, paint chips, newspapers, word tiles, crayons, and stained glass to generate ideas. To highlight the sounds of language we’ll watch and discuss short videos of poetry being performed during a national competition called Poetry Out Loud.  (I’m the NW PA regional coordinator for Erie Arts and Culture.)

One of poetry’s biggest rewards comes from trusting the reader to “get it.” Poems create a space for the writer to imply and the reader to infer.  There the writer and reader meet to wrestle with life’s most important questions.

Ted Kooser says, “In writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life.” So, come to Poetry: New Truth From Old Stuff for fun, interactive workshops that will dare us to write poems and not worry about perfection. We will explore, learn, discover, and enjoy the art of the written and spoken word and discover the Root and Wellspring of our creativity, Jesus Christ.

******************************************************************

LoraZillLora Zill teaches at Gannon University and in Allegheny College’s gifted program for public school students. She is a teaching artist with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a conference speaker. She is working on a book about creative expression and feeling God’s pleasure. Check out Lora’s class Writing the “Good Poem” Thursday through Saturday at this year’s conference.

 

 

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Interview with Faculty Member: Bob Hostetler

Hostetler2Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His 36 books, which include The Bone Box and American Idols (The Worship of the American Dream), have sold millions of copies. He has co-authored 11 books with Josh McDowell, including the best-selling Right from Wrong (What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices) and the award winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. He has won 2 Gold Medallion Awards, 4 Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others.

*******************************************************************************

You were a hit at last year’s conference, and a lot of people wanted you to come back. What kind of background do you have in writing, and how and why did you pursue it?

I often tell people I was raised in a family of readers and writers, so I’ve more or less been a writer all my life. I think the first time I saw my name in a publication was in Highlights magazine (I sent in a joke, which they printed, and then later sent in a drawing or two, which they also printed). I was fourteen or fifteen when I enjoyed my first byline (and payment!), for an article I sent to my denomination’s teen magazine. As a young man in ministry training, I took a creative writing course and submitted a few pieces, which were also published. As a young pastor, I continued to write occasional pieces for publication, which continued with some regularity until I composed my first two book proposals in my late twenties.

How did you get your name out there? That is, what did you start doing first?

I don’t know that my name is “out there” yet. My first few books were coauthored with Josh McDowell, so my name was the least important information on those books. I’m not a natural marketer or platform-builder by any means; I just do my best to keep after it. I have blogged regularly since 2005. I regularly update my website (bobhostetler.com). I speak at around twenty conferences, retreats, and churches every year. I pay careful attention to my Twitter feeds and Facebook friends, and keep them updated (but never inundated) with news about my publishing and speaking efforts. And so on.

Last year you said that the nonfiction market is far larger than the fiction market. In your experience, what can/should people do to get published?

Many of the people I meet at writers’ conferences are most interested in writing the next Great American Novel or publishing their memoirs. But those are pretty steep mountains to climb, so to speak. It is a far more likely path to publication and impact to pursue the many and varied streams of nonfiction in magazines and books, from puzzles and crafts to Bible studies and devotions, and more. I encourage aspiring writers not to focus so much on “getting published” as on “being read.” That can change the equation and bring a lot of joy while often leading to surprising results.

What is your spiritual/religious background, and how does that impact your writing?

I was raised in a Christian family and came to faith as a child. My faith background is The Salvation Army, which many people still don’t realize is a denomination in the Wesleyan tradition. I started ministry in The Salvation Army, and owe an immeasurable debt to that wonderful band of people. When I planted a non-denominational church in 2000, much of my ministry training from The Salvation Army went into that church’s formation and growth. Today, my family and I worship and serve at Cincinnati’s Vineyard Community Church. All of that—along with regular prayer retreats at a Catholic monastery, fellowship with family and friends from a wide range of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and more—has richly contributed to my writing over the years. I think my solid background and varied experiences have made my writing much more accessible and informative than it would have been otherwise.

Check out Bob’s three day Nonfiction Book Writing Course at this year’s conference!

 

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Interview with Faculty Member: Jim Watkins

WatkinsJim Watkins currently wears more hats than his Aunt Luella. He is associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House, a conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas, director of programming for St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference, and editorial advisor for ACW Press. He’s also served as an editor/writer for the American Bible Society, full-time editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, a monthly columnist for Rev. magazine, and weekly columnist for three secular newspapers for 15 years—but not all at the same time.

*******************************************************************************

You said that you wrote Communicate to Change Lives specifically to change lives. How do you do that, and what inspired you?

Well, first you need to buy the book! Second, it’s so important to know your audience’s “felt needs” and offer to meet that need in your writing and speaking. What is the practical “take-away”? So, it’s all about knowing your audience: their felt—and faith—needs, and then showing them how your message can meet that need.

What is your background in writing? How did you get the “bug”?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when, as a second grader, I rewrote the ending of Pinocchio. I could “suspend disbelief” so that a wooden marionette could come to life—no strings attached. But to believe that the “live” puppet could become a real boy? That was too much for me. So, I rewrote the ending and had the wooden Pinocchio die a painful, prolonged death of Dutch elm disease.

Fortunately, I had teachers who encouraged my so-called writing talent. By the time I had written plays for the elementary school to perform, journaled my deep, dark, depressed life as a junior higher, and become the editor of the high school paper, I was hooked on writing!

I dabbled in writing for several years with a real job, then became an editor in our denomination’s publishing house, and eventually became more and more of a full-time writer.

You’re probably best known for “Hope & Humor.” How did you discover that you had that gift?

My dad had a very dry, English sense of humor, which I loved. I found that by adding a little “snark” to that, I had the opportunity to write a humor column each issue of the high school newspaper. A professor in community college gave me a C in Freshman Composition, so I didn’t really write for ten years. Then, when I became the editor of our youth department’s magazine, I started writing a humor column again, and this time got wonderful affirmation. I went on to be editorial director of Wesleyan Publishing House, so continued writing columns with hope and humor. Then later, I had a humor column in three secular papers for fifteen years. Since then I’ve written and taught humor at conferences and Taylor University. My textbook, Writing with Banana Peels, teaches the principles, practices and pratfalls of writing humor.

Here’s my P-A-T answer for discovering your writing and speaking sweet spot. Where do your passions, others’ affirmation, and your talent intersect? That’s very likely your area of ministry.

Where do you see that fitting with the Christian worldview?

Hyperbole, or intentional exaggeration, was the hip humor in first-century Palestine. So, Jesus would have had them rolling on the hillsides with his comments about looking for a “speck of sawdust in a brother’s eye” while having a “plank” in our own. And I can just imagine the multitudes roaring when he told the Pharisees they would “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” Or how ’bout camels squeezing through the “eye of a needle”? Or putting a lamp—an open flame—under a bed—a flat, flammable mat at the time. Unfortunately, a literal translation of Christ’s words doesn’t capture the cultural comedy that’s really there.

That’s why all my articles, posts and  books—with the exception of The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language—are filled with humor. I heard someone at a youth workers’ convention—way back during the Polyester Age—say, “It’s a sin to make the gospel boring.” I’ve always instinctively known that humor was a powerful method to share the gospel. The speakers I remember most—and who had the greatest impact on my life—were sort of stand-up theologians. So, that’s always been my approach in my writing.

Check out Jim’s class, From Concept to Contract at this year’s conference.

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Better Than Winning

by Susan Boltz, Contest Committee for St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference 

“I volunteered to be on the contest committee for St. Davids.”

“Why would you volunteer to help with the contests? You have plenty on your plate already. What makes you think that contests are important enough to merit your time?” My friend sounded a bit peeved that I’d made another commitment.

“When I’ve entered the contests, God has used them in my life.” Doubt played across her face as I tried to explain. “The first time I went to St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference, I was getting serious about writing. God had put stories in my life, and it seemed I should share them, but I didn’t know how or what to do. I entered the contests to see what would happen. At the conference, some of the participants were professional writers, and it seemed like most of the writers were published. Who was I? A writer wannabe. Trying to compete with them seemed silly, so I knew I wasn’t going to win anything. I told myself it was good experience.”

“Pointless,” my friend said.

“That’s how it looked. But those people understood me. When I admitted that I was just a beginner, they told me that we all start at the same place. Every great writer was a beginner at one time. They encouraged me to obey God, learn more, and keep writing. By the time the awards were presented, I was happy with all that I’d learned that week and wasn’t expecting anything else. And then it happened. I won the second place award in the Devotional category. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was in a room with pastors, professional writers, other beginners too, and I’d won second place!”

“Maybe, they just let you win. You know, make the new kid feel good.”

“No, the judges don’t even know who the contestants are. No names are on the entries they receive. First place means this entry is ready to be submitted to an editor for publication. Second place means there are one or two things to be corrected. Third place means this is a solid entry and the judge likes it, but it needs a little more work. To me, the second place win confirmed that God would use my work.”

“So you had a nice experience. What if you hadn’t won anything?”

“Actually, God has used the contests more in my life when I’ve lost than when I’ve won.”

“How does that work?” She laughed. “That sounds crazy.”

“One year, I entered a nonfiction article in the contests. It was a personal experience story. I struggled to write it and thought perhaps I’d submit it to a magazine if it did well.”

“What happened?”

“Definitely not a win. The scores were low, and the manuscript was covered with the judge’s comments and questions.”

“What did you do?” she asked.

“I threw the whole thing in a drawer and forgot about it. A couple of years later, Chicken Soup for the Soul had a call-out for stories like mine. I pulled out the manuscript. The comments and questions guided me as I rewrote the whole thing. In December of 2014, that story was published in The Power of Forgiveness. Learning from my mistakes was a better gift than winning any award.”

“Do you think God will use the contests with other writers?”

“That’s my prayer.”

———————————————————————————

sboltzSusan has been published in the Upper Room, Penned from the Heart, Vista Magazine, and Chicken Soup for the Soul—The Power of Forgiveness. She is a card-carrying member in good standing of St. Davids Christian Writers’ Association and CFO Second Tuesday Writers.

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Trifecta Confirmation

by Sue Fairchild 

One of the things I love the most about the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference is the contest winner announcements at the banquet at the end of the week. It brings together the people I’ve met and admired all week long, plus, the winner’s submission is always read out loud. I love to hear the different writing styles and connect the writing with the author.

Last year, after missing the previous year of the conference, I decided to attend and enter the contests again. My writing habits had taken a nosedive and I was feeling negative about my skills as a writer. To be truthful, I didn’t think I had any skills as a writer and was considering giving it up.

I entered the “Devotional” and “Nonfiction Article” categories—going for my strengths—and the “Novel Beginnings” category. I wanted so badly to write full-length fiction and I’d recently begun a Young Adult work based loosely on my childhood. Although my writers group liked the beginning, I had convinced myself it wasn’t that great and, surely, others would not give me glowing accolades for my inferior work. Looking back, I entered the contest thinking my greatest fears would be confirmed—that I wasn’t a writer at all.

The night of the banquet came and it was time to announce the contest winners. I couldn’t even remember what I had entered, but I knew I wouldn’t win. It didn’t matter, though, because conference week had rekindled my passion for writing and, whether I won or lost was inconsequential: I was a writer.

I clapped and cheered as the winners in the devotional category were announced and my friends received their certificates. Soon, the moderator started reading the first place winner. I realized it was MY work. Although I didn’t take the win for granted, I had been published many times for my devotions before, so it seemed a logical win.

Then the moderator read my entry for nonfiction article. I had won another category! I shook my head as I took my seat once again, thanking God for this blessing. These two wins were a sure sign of His purpose for my life.

I had no sooner basked in the glow of my two wins, than I heard a familiar story being read. My writing group friends grinned in my direction. They knew my words as they had read them before. It was my entry for novel beginnings. I had won again! I began to cry. As my fellow writers cheered me on, I took my winning certificate, and then stared at all three achievements in front of me. Not only had God confirmed I was a writer, I had won the coveted “trifecta” of the contests. Winning the trifecta (or all three contests you can enter) is rarely done. I had won this coveted achievement when all along I hadn’t even considered myself a writer! Now, as my new friend, Bob Hostetler, had put it—I was an AWARD-WINNING writer!

With the glow of these wins still reverberating in me almost a year later, I’ve finished a good portion of my YA novel, have started a nonfiction book about stories and concepts from the Bible, continue my blog, and commit myself to writing at least twice a week for a whole day. God has positioned me in this place for a reason; He showed me that with these wins. Although the awards at conference don’t come with monetary value, the encouragement value from both the judges and my peers has propelled me to keep moving forward. I’m sure I’ll enter a few more contests this year, too.

Care to challenge me?

***********************************************************************

frontalshoteditedSue is a self-proclaimed germaphobe, OCD sufferer (which works well for editing) and recovering Negative Nelly. Her blog examines the simple snippets of life to find the joy, lesson and fun in each moment. Working with authors to snip and refine their work in progress also brings Sue joy in her work as a freelance editor. She can be found at Sue’s Simple Snippets and @suefair48 on Twitter.

Posted on by Sue Fairchild | Leave a comment

Recite or Relate

by Carol Hamilton

Have you ever been to a piano recital and noticed the student who has all the technique mastered? Her fingers arched, back straight, she strokes each key with precision and doesn’t miss a note, yet she’s not feeling the music and neither does the audience. She plays the score without emotion.

Next a child pounces on the piano. She whirls through a simple song, missing a note here and there, but completely captivating the crowd. She feels the music in every cell. The tune reverberates from her soul. At times she’s lost in the melody and seems to forget anyone else exists. Rather than merely playing the notes on the page, she lives the music, allowing the audience to experience it with her.

My niece, Elle, as a nine-year-old actress, played the lead in a local dance production. In the previous two years she performed in several plays. Her poise and confidence improve with each one. She delivers her lines calmly, clearly, and with conviction.

Also in the show, another niece, twelve-year-old Haley Smith, danced in four numbers. Many of the girls on the stage got all the steps right. They moved to the correct spot at the appointed time, but most of them went through the motions, probably counting in their minds, some mouthing the numbers. But Haley danced. She flowed with grace and had me in tears. As she danced I felt lifted, ethereal, and encouraged.

Since Haley learned to toddle she’s been bouncing to music. My parents like to tell of her ability as a grade school student to switch the cable music station to a wide variety of genres. After listening for a few seconds, she would make up a dance to go with the music. She has a natural gift, but she enhances it with hours of heartfelt practice. Watching her on the stage in this performance, I could see how she took the choreographed steps and turned them into soul-felt dances. Because she put herself into the rhythm, with a genuine grin, my spirit buoyed and rose and I became a part of the music myself.

As speakers we have the same gamut of levels. Some speakers practice words and present them. Their facts often fall flat because they recite rather than relate. Graphs and research can be interesting, but how much more gripping if something personal is interspersed with the presentation. What has the speaker learned that will help the audience? What pertinent story can be woven into the details? When we include a piece of ourselves, spoken from the heart, with the intent of helping others, we can bring the audience into the speech, get them to feel the emotion, and bring them along with inspiration. When we share with depth something we believe, we move from reciting words to meaningful, memorable speaking, and the audience relates.

Carol Moesta Hamilton is from Western Pennsylvania. Her passion and delight is to speak and write to uplift women and teens reminding them of their strength in Jesus. For the past four years, she presented Bucketfillers for Life, Inc.  anti-bullying programs in schools, encouraging students and adults to choose to be kind. She also enjoys teaching writing workshops.

She is associated with National Speakers Association, Toastmasters International, St. Davids Christian Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, Mission to the World Disaster Response Ministry and others.

Posted on by Amy Mable | Leave a comment

Waiting for Inspiration

by Joanne Brokaw

“Writing lies in the vast space between those two poles of brilliance and desolation, in a space called work.”

 


An acquaintance, we’ll call him Joe, recently told me he’s a writer. “I have several books in the works,” he said. When I asked if he was close to finishing any, he replied with a chuckle, “Not yet. I’m still waiting to be inspired. You know how it is.”

I do. In fact, there probably isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t waited for the writing gods to rain down inspiration so he could finish a project.

This was on my mind as I sat down to write this guest blog post, partly because it was close to the deadline and I hadn’t yet come up with a topic. I’ve been really distracted by writing projects, travel, and the fact that I just found Dr. Who on Netflix. I wasn’t feeling inspired.

No, wait. That’s a lie. I was being lazy.

When Joe talked about being inspired, I shared with him something I’ve learned over the years: “If you’re a writer, you write. Even when you don’t feel inspired.”

A lot of writers find themselves waffling between two ends of the writing spectrum. One end assures you that anything worth writing must pour from the pen as if God himself was etching another ten commandments. Yes, you tell yourself, you are the most amazing writer in the entire universe. Life as we know it will change for eternity because of the sentence you just wrote.

The other end of the spectrum insists that, without divine inspiration, anything you commit to paper or computer screen is drivel, trash, a crime more heinous than murder. And so you do a million other things while you wait for your muse to strike, because without it you are nothing. Lower than nothing. You are, in fact, not a writer. Go get a real job.

At the risk of bursting the bubble of creative self pity, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Writing lies in the vast space between those two poles of brilliance and desolation, in a space called work.

Painters paint and teachers teach and policeman police and truck drivers drive trucks. And writers? They write. They do it when they don’t feel like writing. They do it when everyone else is out having fun. They do it when their brains aren’t churning out a single good idea and a deadline is looming.

Yes, sometimes we need to take a break from a project, to get some clarity, stretch our legs or do more research. But if you’re waiting around for the time when you feel inspired to write, you’ll never finish anything.

Writer, inspire thyself. It’s pretty simple: Park your butt in a chair, put your fingers on the keyboard, and start writing.

Write anything. Copy a page from your favorite novel. Set a timer for 10 minutes and just start writing about what you did yesterday, putting anything on the page until the buzzer goes off. Write an email to yourself about why you don’t feel like writing.

I guarantee one of those things will spark an idea, which will make you want to write some more, which will make you feel … dare I say it? … inspired.

—–

Joanne BrokawAward-winning humor columnist, blogger, and freelance writer Joanne Brokaw spends her days dreaming of things she’d like to do but probably never will—like swimming with dolphins, cleaning the attic, and someday overcoming the trauma of elementary school picture day. She’s been published in dozens of publications, including Refreshed magazine, Patheos.com, Fido Friendly Magazine’s blog, and Focus on the Family’s Breakaway magazine. Her book, What the Dog Said, a collection of humor columns, is currently available from Wordcrafts Press. She lives in Western New York with two dogs, a cat, six chickens, and one very patient husband. JoanneBrokaw.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment