I received the nicest email a few days ago, and it really made my day. The writer was working on a non-fiction book and began struggling with the writing as she was wrapping up. She said she was unable to write for weeks at a time. My emails inspired her to push through. She actually ended up finishing the manuscript two weeks before her deadline!
I was so excited to hear that I made a difference! But often, we don’t know what impact we have on others’ lives because they watch and respond quietly. They listen and apply. They learn and grow. They observe and are inspired. We don’t always have the pleasure of hearing about the effect that our own work has on others’ work.
Sometimes as authors, we have to push through this void of non-response and know that people are really watching, listening, and being inspired. It can be tough, especially in the writing stage of our manuscripts, to think of what impact we will have or even hope that we touch one other person and help them out.
If you find yourself wondering if it’s worth it to even write your book, just remember that you are impacting people, even if they don’t tell you. Every word you write is important. Continue reading
Have you ever gotten a brilliant idea for a book and started writing right away before the idea disappears? Then you get about a dozen pages in and suddenly stop.
That sounds familiar.
You don’t know who’s going to read it. You don’t know why they want to read it. You don’t know what point you want to make. You don’t know if you want to educate them or help them change their lives or exactly what.
There is an awful lot that you don’t know!
What you DO know, though, is that pushing yourself to write anything more in this book is not going to be productive. So you stop. And you wait. And the book ends up in your file of “Brilliant Book Ideas that are Going Nowhere.” Ugh.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Many a false step is made by standing still”? I got that in a fortune cookie recently, and it really made me think. Inaction is just as bad as action in the wrong direction. Why? Because neither is leading us toward our purpose. Even worse, sometimes this inaction can take us so far away from the writing project that we lose interest altogether and simply deem it a failure. Continue reading
We have been living in our house for about six years now, and I have never seen grasshoppers on our porch until the past couple weeks. It started with one a few days ago that my daughter noticed on the bottom of my shoe (my legs were crossed, so my foot was in the air).
The girls were curious about the grasshopper and wanted to touch it and watch it. They wanted to know what he was doing, where he was going, and what he eats. Then my oldest wanted to put him in a jar with some food so he could hang out with us inside. She got an absolute “no” on that one.
He eventually hopped onto the patio sofa and then the wall behind me. The girls pulled up chairs and watched him hopping up the wall, pausing, and then hopping again. They got bored and played a little longer. An hour later, he was on the ceiling. Continue reading
Imagine that every point of light, every star, were a book. It’s not hard to imagine, really. If you go into a book store, you will probably see thousands of books clustered together. And that’s just a slice of what’s available. Remember that many books aren’t available in book stores. They aren’t super popular. They are out of print. They have been lost to the ages. Or they are self-published, and the author opted not to offer them.
With all those book, scattered across the sky, you know that there is only one sliver you can see at a time from any place on Earth. There are only certain ones you can see from our galaxy or from another galaxy. How many do you really think there are? How many are you interested in reading?
Certain books resonate with us; they form a constellation of what we like to read. Your constellation would be different from someone else’s constellation and from another person’s.
Now, where does your story fit in? Continue reading
Of all the different things that cause writer’s block, fear can be the most difficult one to hurdle. It’s not something you can get over in an afternoon. It’s not something that passes with a mood. It can be very real and paralyzing, and it can prevent you from ever starting your book, let alone finishing it.
Sometimes we freeze when we start thinking about what happens next. What will people think of me? Will anyone read this? How can I let myself be judged?
Being authentic is scary, and opening your soul to the world—whether you write fiction or non—requires some degree of bravery. Unless you are a narcissist, you likely care about what people think of you and your writing.
So how do you get over this seemingly insurmountable hurdle? Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a lot about nurturing lately, especially dealing with the kiddos. How do I direct them to discover their talents and follow their dreams? It’s easy to just say, “Hey, kid, follow your dreams,” but that really isn’t enough. You have to provide guidance and an environment that allows for exploration.
So how does this translate to writing? I went back to the first big writing project I did: a series of 14-15 page stories (hand-written on 8.5 x 11 notebook paper) back in middle school. I was a big mystery reader, and of course, I thought I had read so many books that I could easily write one myself. Continue reading
Have you ever noticed that when you have a rough day, you just don’t feel like writing? Maybe you sit down at your desk and push yourself anyway. If you actually type anything though and don’t end up tossing your laptop against the wall, when you go back later and read it, is it any good?
There is a good reason for this. You are in the wrong energy for writing.
When you aren’t in the flow of your best energy, then you aren’t going to write like you. It can feel forced, frustrated, angry. And worst of all, when you read it later, that energy shines through. You don’t want to read it, and no one else will either.
The best thing you can do is to actually put yourself in the mood for writing. Continue reading
I was talking about the publishing process with a client recently, and we were pinpointing his goals. When I started out talking, I went straight to that “the-sky’s-the-limit” mentality and mentioned some different ways that he can use his book to reach the audience he wants to reach.
I stopped myself partway through this conversation, apologized, and asked him what he really wants to do with his book. Maybe he didn’t want to do speaking gigs and meet with groups of people to help them out.
He took a deep breath. (I think I had overwhelmed him a bit.) He wants to help people who have been through the same difficult situation he’s been through because he didn’t find many books to help him out at the time. Then he said, “Honestly, I’m not looking to write the next great American novel. I just want to get my story out there to help people. After that, I’m not sure. I just want others in this situation to feel like they aren’t alone. Other people have been through it, too.”
I’m sure that plenty of people want to do the same thing. You just want to help others because you felt alone, scared, or like you were the only person going through what you did.
And that’s beautiful. Continue reading
You know what’s fun? Once you have a beautiful polished manuscript, you get to write an enticing 2–3 paragraph synopsis of the book that doesn’t give away too much plot but makes people want to buy your book. (This is for the back cover.)
And suddenly, reorganizing your pantry is really exciting and important right now . . .
Basically, you have three options once you put down the can of green beans: you can pay someone to write it for you, you can cry in a corner, or you can tie yourself to your desk chair and write it yourself.
Option three tends to be the least painful physically, emotionally, and economically, so let’s look at my favorite trick for writing a great back cover blurb. Continue reading
Many of us fall in love with a name and present it to a main character. We get to write it thousands of times. We get to develop a character that fills the name and gives it the depth we want.
If you’re like me, you love naming, and finding the perfect name can really make your day, if not your week. This is why I always devote a chunk of time in my writing session to naming characters, cities, and other things that need names.
Note: don’t do it in the middle of writing! Don’t stop yourself when you suddenly have something or someone without a name and go research for three hours to find the perfect one. Just write “name” or something that will help you know what goes there, and then highlight it so you can return and research later. Don’t interrupt your writing session if you’re in the middle of writing a scene. The perfect name will wait.
So how do I discover the perfect name for a character if I don’t have one planned already? I look at several things first. Continue reading