Tag: for writers (page 1 of 2)

How To Overcome ‘I Can’t’

Celesta Thiessen

I attended a workshop recently by author Celesta Thiessen with this very title. It was a very practical and worthwhile session, dealing with overcoming the obstacles that many authors feel when it comes to their writing. One of the things I appreciated about the session was how she focused first on the spiritual aspect of things before moving into the more ‘practical’ applications.

She talked about the need to deal with three spiritual areas in our life: unforgiveness, sin , and lies – and even allowed quiet time for reflection to let God speak to each one about what things we might need to ask forgiveness for, confess as sin, or identify as ‘lies’ from the devil. (Example: Your writing is no good; no one will ever want to read what you’ve written; you’re not really a writer etc…) As she so correctly pointed out, these spiritual areas can have a negative affect on our ability to carry out the calling to write.

Then she moved on to some practical  ways writers can gain encouragement, such as finding and connecting with writer friends –  both local and online – and participating in writing challenges like nanowrimo.

I especially liked her list of practical tips for success:

  1. Figure out what time of day is your best for writing and then try to write during that time.
  2. Find out what length of time is optimal for you and add that to your routine.
  3. Be intentional about your writing environment. Some people write in a specific location, have certain inspirational quotes etc. around, or what have you…
  4. Develop a routine and stick to it! Routines become habits and this takes away much of the resistance to write.
  5. Look after yourself – rest, nutrition, and other healthy habits are part of writing success. She talked about using light therapy for depression or getting whatever other kind of help you might need.
  6. Using external deadlines can be a huge motivator for indie authors. Some great examples are: setting up an Amazon ‘pre-order’ – if you don’t get the final copy uploaded by the date, those who pre-ordered will get the rough draft! Another great idea is organizing a book launch date in advance, which forces you to finish it by that date. Another (which I will probably never try!) is ‘Write or Die’ – an app which starts erasing your words if you aren’t meeting your own preset goals.

In all, this was a wonderfully practical workshop. Thank you to Celesta for sharing this valuable information with us at the Steinbach WorDshop.

WorDshops Coming to a city near you

Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship* has an exciting line up of ‘WorDshops’ coming your way this spring. What is a WorDshop? Think of it as a ‘mini-conference’ – a day of speakers and workshops geared to encouraging and assisting both new and seasoned writers in their craft and calling. It’s a wonderful way to connect with other writers in your area, and you’re sure to come away inspired and equipped.

This year there are several WorDshops planned across western Canada, including events in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. (Go to the Inscribe website for specific locations and dates.) The overall theme for 2017 is ‘Write Words’, but each event has its own flair and features seasoned and award winning Canadian Christian writers as keynote presenters. As well, each WorDshop includes a variety of break out workshops.

I will be attending four of the six events this year. In fact, I’ll be doing a little ‘tour’ of western Canada during my spring break from school starting with the Steinbach, MB WorDshop where I will be the keynote speaker. Then it’s on to Regina, SK the next weekend where I will be on a panel of authors taking about time management. Finally, I’ll be heading to Blackfalds, AB where I will do a workshop on blogging. It will be a busy two weeks ‘off’ from work, but I am definitely looking forward to it. Along the way I will have the opportunity to visit family and friends, so that’s makes it a bonus!

For more information, visit the Inscribe website. Registration is online and is a two-step process. First, fill out the application form. Then, go to the online store and pay for your session. You can also register at the door, although there is a discount for registering online. Local authors that attend have the opportunity to sell their books, and there are door prizes and other incentives, too.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with other authors of faith, or if you need some inspiration, why not come to the WorDshop nearest you?

*Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship exists to stimulate, encourage and support Christians who write, to advance effective Christian writing, and to promote the influence of all Christians who write. We are a Canada wide organization with members who write in a variety of genres and range from professional writers to those just starting out.

Favourite Tools For Authors

 

Construction worker/Builder with tools. Isolated on white backgroundThere was a very informative and interesting panel at InScribe’s fall conference in September of last year which asked four different authors to share their favourite writing tools. On the panel were: Linda Hall, Rik Hall, Jane Wheeler, and Janice Dick. (And yours truly as moderator.) Here is a helpful list of tools mentioned:

 

  1. SCRIVENER

By far the most popular tool (no surprise here) was Scrivener. Everyone on the panel – including me – love it. Here are some of the reasons:

– deals with complete projects

– flexible, user-friendly

– compile feature for whatever end result is desired, also for separating character / plotlines

– character / setting templates

– linked research

– notes for scenes, document, project (always visible)

– scene categorization (date, time, POV)

– can be colour-coded

– use for any writing or organization project (blogs, recipe collections…)

if you’re not using Scrivener, yet, you should really give it a try. It is free for first month (non consecutive uses so there is no pressure) and even then it is very affordable. I bought two subscriptions (one for my Mac and one for my PC) long before the trial period was up. It’s just that awesome.

  1. THESAURUS

Some tools just never go out of style. Invest in a good thesaurus or fond one online. It’s a great tool for bridging the gap between the right and left sides of the brain.

  1. GRAMMAR BOOKS

This was a popular one as well. Here are some of the resources suggested:

Elements of Style – Strunk & White

Woe is I – Patricia W. Carr (concise and humorous)

Write! Better – Ray Wiseman (succinct)

Writer’s Digest Books (eg. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, Scene & Structure, Characters & Viewpoint, etc.)

  1. SEND TO KINDLE

This is good for checking how your files will look on a kindle device before you go ahead and publish. Just drag and drop word docs and pdfs into this program and send them to your Kindle device. Another option is ‘Kindle Previewer’.

  1. TEXT TO SPEECH SOFTWARE

Any software that reads back to you is very useful when self-editing. It catches those mistakes that your brain skipped over because you knew what you meant to say. Mac’s have a built in ‘text to speech’ which you can check out by going to the system preferences. My Mac will read highlighted text using the ‘Option+Esc’ keys. There are other programs like ‘Natural Reader’ that are popular. The reverse (speech to text) is also useful if you want to ‘write’ while walking or just tired of typing all the time. You can use your computer or your phone for this.

  1. POPULAR ONLINE SITES AND GROUPS

Many different sites were mentioned and I suspect this one is very much about individual preference. However, here is what I managed to jot down:

Livewritethrive by C.S. Lakin

The Creative Penn by Joanna Penn

goodreads – for leaving reviews, getting reviews, creating an author page, and interacting about books

facebook groups – too many to mention or link to!

  1. DOIN’ IT OLD SCHOOL!

A couple of people mentioned that they liked to use some ‘old school’ methods of organizing when they write. For instance, index cards for each scene help one to visually lay out a book to see if it flows. Another mentioned using coloured pens specific to each character, the plot, setting etc. (FYI, Scrivener has both of these functions as well. Bonus!)

  1. AUTOCORRECT

Linda Hall mentioned developing her own shortcuts to increase her productivity. (For instance: chc = church) To do so on a mac, go to Systems Preferences —Text—Shortcuts. (She suggested checking out court reporting for usable shortcuts.) This is very useful when using a phone, too.

  1. FOR FORMATTING AND DESIGN

Rik Hall, Linda’s husband and a professional publisher, mentioned two programs for those who are getting into self publishing:

I certainly found the panel very informative. I hope you have gleaned some useful bits of information here, as well.

Tips and Tools From the Editors

Construction worker/Builder with tools. Isolated on white background

Good editing is another tool in your toolkit!

Some very insightful tidbits and advice were shared at an ‘editor’s panel’ at Inscribe’s 2016 Fall Conference. On the panel were the following expert editors:

Carol Schaefer, columns’ editor for Fellowscript Magazine; Nina Morey, editor in chief of Fellowscript Magazine; Dale Youngman, of Pagemaster Publishing; Susan King, editor of The Upper Room. 

Some key questions:

Why do I need an editor?

–        Carol Schafer used losing her keys as an example. She’d lost her keys and looked EVERYWHERE  for them with no success, until someone else came along and found them – in plain sight. I’m sure we’ve all had moments like this in our lives. The ‘obvious’ is not always obvious. Sometimes it takes another set of eyes. We all have blind spots. In the end we want the very best product we can manage and therefore good writers WANT to be edited. It makes them better.

What are some of the different kinds of editing?

–       Structural – This is an overall ‘big picture’ edit: (Are there holes? Is there flow? Show don’t tell rule etc.)

–       Copy editing – focuses details and rewriting.

–       Proofing – find all typos etc. (Some may call it line editing.)

      More takeaways:

– The best editing is invisible… it brings out the best of the author.

– Send the best copy you can to the editor. (So do some self editing first! Run it by your critique group first. Read it out loud.)

– Don’t trust the tools! Spell and grammar check can make mistakes. Be BETTER than your tools. Get out the grammar books and review! (It’s good medicine!)

– Put your work away for awhile. Come back to it with fresh eyes.

– Boil it down. Eliminate and tighten.

– Editors are looking for excellence, not perfection. (Know when to move on!)

– submit to guidelines and be organized if you are submitting to more than one place.

It’s okay to disagree with your editor, but make sure you are open to suggestions. Listen and learn. Your editor is not your adversary. Expect to be dismayed and challenged, but in the end, be pleased. Editors love TEACHABLE authors.

Suggested resources:

Telling Lies for Fun and Profit

Grammar Girl

grammarly.com

Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style

Monetizing Your Creativity (podcast)

Making the Genre Switch

Linda Hall is a fine example of an author who has successfully switched genres. It’s a risky business, especially if you already have a following, as she did. However, it’s more important to be happy with what you’re writing than to chase success. In her case, it paid off.

Here are some key points I took away from one of her sessions at a recent writers’ conference.

lindaThe average person switches careers seven times in a lifetime. So why is it surprising when writers switch genres? We all grow and develop as writers so switching genres may be a natural outcome of that growth.  Even when you switch genres, you are still you – you still maintain your unique ‘writerly’ voice. There are many examples of famous writers who have written in more than one genre. Often the biggest hurdle is the marketing.

There is a difference between a reasonable shift and a radical shift. Sometimes it’s more about changing ‘brand’. Newspaper and sports teams change their mastheads and logos over time to reflect changing times or be more current. If you are changing brand, do it gently and make sure you inform your audience so that they don’t feel alienated. Very radical shifts may require a pen name, even if your audience knows who the other ‘person’ is, they will not be confused about what you are trying to promote.

Pros:

  1. You will grow as a writer
  2. The monotony will be broken
  3. You may find many new opportunities and a whole new group of friends.

Cons:

  1. You may lose part of your audience
  2. Your brand might be changed
  3. Readers might be confused
  4. There might be a monetary loss

How to build your audience after a genre switch:

  1. Explain carefully your motives: on a blog, in a newsletter, on social media. In other words, don’t be afraid to tell people and explain your reasons why.
  2. Work to increase your email list.
  3. Work various kinds of advertising and figure out what works for you.
  4. Get reviews.
  5. Stay with it and focus on the joy, not the money.

Every kind of writing is good training for other kinds of writing. ‘Someone’ said, “Write a poem a day.” This is good advice.  Do what your heart tells you to do.

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