Saturday, January 15, 2022

5 Writing Habits to Kick

It's a new year with opportunities to make changes to your writing life! And this includes habits to kick to make you a better writer. Here are five that I'm working on this year.

Photo by Luz Fuertes on Unsplash

1. I will not edit as I write. Tough. Tough. Tough. I am going to write. Write. Write.

2. I will not compare myself to other more established, more creative, more _____________ [you fill in the blank] writers.

3. I will not replace writing with housecleaning. I will not say, "When this is done, I will make time to write."

4. I will write what's in my heart. I will let go of what others [publishers, other writers, myself sometimes] have to say about what is selling right now to make money. I will focus on what brings me happiness, not what others may expect or want me to write because of their needs. Writing can be seen as a selfish venture, but the best writers are those who dig deep and write what is most important to them. In turn, what they write becomes meaningful to the people who need it.

5. I will write daily. I will never be too busy. 

What are your 5 writing habits to kick this year?

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Starting the monumental task of writing a book

Just this morning I was placing my stuffed animal frog on my bed when an idea for a children's picture book 'hopped' into my mind. My first thought was, "This is incredible! I have to write this down before I forget!" 

I ran to my computer and wrote the title and the short synopsis that came to me on a sticky note. It is hanging up right here where I sit and write.

Now comes the hard part. I've got to write it.

What should I do first? 

I have learned through the years the time of reflection should not be hurried. The reflection time is sort of my idea-gathering time. It's the time when  I consider the different ways the story might travel. Though I am a by the seat of my pants sort of author, I always have some idea of where I want my story to travel. And this idea takes me to the next step.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

Writing the first draft. Please think of this time as the time to let your thoughts and feelings come through your fingertips and onto the page. This is not the time to edit. I HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS EVERY TIME I WRITE SOMETHING. Stop. Do not edit. Keep writing. Remember, stop. Stop. The first draft is kind of like living a fantasy life where you get to do anything and everything you want. The idea is to get your story out, not to block this time with whispers of fixing things. Give yourself some time with this. Don't hurry it. Spend as much time as you need.

The second draft will be up for view before you know it, and especially with picture books, it's important to make every word count. 

Photo by Duy Thanh Nguyen 

Photo by howling red 

This is the time to take out the words that do not contribute to the overall story. This is the time to correct run-on sentences. This is the time to look at the meat of the story. What are you trying to tell your reader? What do you expect them to learn without spelling it out?

Photo by chris liu on Unsplash

The final draft can be your third, fourth, or even your fifth draft. This is when you make sure your spelling is correct, your beginning is superb, and your ending is just as it should be. 

During the stages of writing a book, no matter what genre of book it is, I am thinking of the cover and what I want my future reader to know about the book even before they've flipped through a few pages or read the back cover. I start thinking of an illustrator. For my fiction books, I usually buy a stock photo that can be turned into a cover. 

Writing a book is a little like living a life where changes ultimately will need to be made. You might even want to consider your life. What changes have you made to make your life better? You can walk the same path with your book. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Do you write in your books?

Perhaps a better question would be, why do you write in your books if you do, and why don't you if you don't?

Since I am the former answer to the question, let me take this one first.

I usually highlight and write in the margins of my nonfiction books. This helps me to return to a favorite passage or re-read a favorite thought in the margin. I have written in books for years, even when I was learning to read and would mark out the words I didn't know.

I suppose my mom 'loved' that but I did it so that I could see what else I still needed to learn. Later, I no longer marked up my books but that was because I was reading fiction. Yes, I did have school books, but I was threatened with my life not to mark those out, though I did check out a few books from the library that surprisingly were marked in pencil.

As an adult, I find that, if I own the book, I am open to highlighting and writing in the margins even if the book is a book of fiction.

"Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse is just such a book. Though fiction, it lends itself to nonfiction thoughts. Here's a couple I have marked.

"How many long years he had spent without any lofty goal, without any thirst, without any exaltation, content with small pleasures and yet never really satisfied!"

"We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is spiral; we have already climbed many steps."

I love the book, "Gift From The Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In it, she shares her feelings of living life by the sea, and letting go of an old life, and searching for a new one. It is nonfiction.

You can probably see that I have read this book multiple times and that every time I read it I receive something different that touches my soul.

For those who don't mark their books, I have heard various reasons such as, "I like a clean copy so that every time I read the book I'm not hung up on what I thought before. I enjoy the freedom of discovering, again and again, my favorite lines."

"I don't even mark my scriptures for the same reason and for an additional reason. They are much too sacred to mark up."

In either case, whether you mark in your books or you don't, there is something magical that happens when the words are written for the soul. 

Your thoughts? I would love to hear them!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Wrapping Up 2021 - Most Read Posts

Happy New Year!!

Here are the top posts for the last six months of 2021 beginning with December. If you haven't had a chance to read, here you go!

Photo by Moritz Kn√∂ringer on Unsplash


5 Tips For Stressed Out Writers. We all get stressed. Get some info. about what I do.


Free Book on November 20th! Today's the Day! The book? I Walked With Jesus.


Why I decided not to stay with my local publisher - the PCM of marketing books. What does PCM stand for? Find out.


Book Your Weekend! I spent an enjoyable Saturday in September talking about books.


Reviews of I Walked With Jesus. Still trying to decide?


A Tractor Named Wilbur: Friendships Last Forever. A fantastic author interview with Deanie Humphrys-Dunne