Weekly Inspiration for Writers
Wow. 2020 has been something else, hasn’t it?
In the last several months, social media has made me want to take up drinking or send everyone to bed early without supper. Seriously. People use words in the most horrible ways.
I started to write a post for my personal Facebook, but when the word count tipped to almost 700, realized I needed to share it with you instead. The TL;DR summary I finally came up with for friends and family: “If you share original thoughts on social media, you are a writer. Don't be a jerk with your words.”
The world needs writers who can clearly and boldly present their stories and heart to influence change and healing without offending the people they long to help.
Whether it’s racism, COVID, politics, or topics of a more personal nature, we must learn to share our stories, express our opinions, and offer real answers to hard problems in a way that encourages others to listen and learn. So many people have pieces to the puzzle, but...
For weeks now, so many people everywhere have been scared COVID-19 will claim the lives of their loved ones. The stories on the news are gut wrenching. We pray for those caring for the ill and those left behind, grieving. But not so secretly, we fervently hope it doesn’t happen to us and ours.
Imagine my surprise when my dearest friend called late on Palm Sunday. The tremble in her voice made me wonder if they had contracted the virus. Even though she was sitting in a hospital parking lot, 1500 miles away, it wasn’t COVID-19. Her husband was alone in the emergency room triage, having a heart attack.
We cried. We prayed. I tried to offer words of hope.
Life can be so disturbingly unpredictable sometimes.
In December of 2016, my father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. My cousin, who is a nurse and lives next door, was there within minutes and performed CPR. Unfortunately, Dad took his last breath in my mother’s arms before my cousin arrived.
How are you doing?
Really. How are you?
That’s not just a polite question you ask a stranger at a party. I genuinely want to know how you’re holding up. I hope you’re doing okay, if not, that’s okay too.
I think most of us can agree the world is a frightening place right now. The thought of living without toilet paper is almost as scary as getting the virus. In times like this, fear and hope play hide and seek amongst reality.
I’ve been delaying writing about the current pandemic. Everyone has been weighing in. I wanted to have something helpful or encouraging to add to the conversation.
I also like to show up after the original crowd of well-wishing supporters disappear. See, everyone is super supportive at the beginning of a crisis. But within a couple weeks, those helpful people vanish, never to be heard from again. And those are the moments when we need someone the most.
I’m sure most of you have endured the pain of losing someone...
On the fifth week of the month I answer reader questions. Feel free to send them via social media or email.
Two words: stolen moments.
When you have young children, life can be crazy without even trying. If you work full time or homeschool, your schedule can be overloaded and overwhelming. The best way to accomplish anything during these busy times is to look for pockets of calm, set a timer, and write for ten to fifteen minutes each day.
Writers often overlook the benefits of shorts bursts of creativity. If you outline your topic on Monday, then write for 15 minutes each day, many women can complete a thousand words or more a week. If you are able to sneak in a thousand words a week that can add up to a 50,000-word in a year. Fifty-thousand words is the length of an average book!
Use the time during mundane tasks, like folding clothes or washing dishes, to consider and think through what you want to...
Life is usually feast or famine. There will be some seasons as writers where the only thing we do is write. The ideas flow and words become an endless stream. We can’t be sidetracked and it’s wonderful! We astonish ourselves by all the content. Other times, nary a word will flow from our pens.
As writers, our job is to learn to leverage and channel our creativity to keep us writing when things aren’t so inspired. That way our readers still get the best of us, even when the blank page mocks us. Implementing a few tips can make all the difference between delivering new content and disappointing readers.
Create a publishing schedule. Faithful readers deserve consistent content. They come to count on you. If you know you want to write one email newsletter a month, a blog post each week, and share two Instagram photos, you get a better sense of how much content you need to create. Delivering something for publication by 3pm becomes much easier.
Choose a weekly...
I could tell stories about my fifteen-year-old writing self, but honestly, I’m too embarrassed. Whether it was the topics I picked or the arrogance in which they were written, I have no idea who I thought would read them. Oh. Never mind. I didn't think about it. I just wrote. Oops.
It’s common for younger, fledging writers to forge ahead and write what they want, how they want to write it. If done well, in a fresh way, it can ripple changes in the writing industry. If the pieces read like every other inexperienced writer, editors and readers will take note. Those submissions end up on the rejection pile. I can’t offer enough encouragement to be honest about how much experience you have as a writer, and to take constructive criticism seriously when it comes from a trusted source.
I’ve worked with a lot of new writers. I’ve noticed several patterns in their work. In the early years of writing, focusing on these elements will help with your success:
I’m pretty sure wishing for something, that can’t happen at this time in our life, is a hallmark of human existence. Twelve-year-olds want to be in college. Empty nesters long for the days their children were babies. And there’s always a pinch of “what-if” in every situation. Each stage and season of life has its own challenges and rewards.
For me, I spent eight months building my website, creating content, working with two of my daughters on their novels, and wishing the gnomes would pitch in a bit more with meal prep. (Sadly, they refused.) As I pushed through learning curves, long hours, and finally launched, there is a deep satisfaction that comes when the right things happen at the right time.
As much as I longed to coach fifteen years ago, I’m not sure when I would have found the time or energy. I was homeschooling two elementary age boys with a preschooler and newborn in tow. Sanity was at a premium during those years. Despite all my...
If I was given a quarter every time I wished for a magic wand to bibbidi bobbidi boo a problem away, both of us could retire, rich and fabulous. From calendars that have a life of their own, to toddlers who won’t nap, to dinner that rejects our silent pleas to magically appear on the table, if life doesn’t run smoothly, it hinders our creativity and focus. While everyone has their own ways to be productive, stepping back and creating a plan to manage all aspects of our life is an easy way to unleash our creativity.
Our brains can only juggle so many thoughts at a time. After my brain injury, my almost photographic memory vanished. As someone who could remember every calendar appointment six-months on either side of today, in the space of moments, I didn’t know what day it was. Productivity and creativity changed radically for me.
Many, many months after the accident, when I wasn’t sleeping fourteen-plus hours a day, I tried to complete ordinary tasks the...
“Look away! If you don’t make eye contact, they’ll leave you alone.”
I hope I’m not the only one irritated by pushy salespeople at mall kiosks. People running at me with open bottles of hand cream and free samples ruffle my sensibilities. One, I have allergies and some of those “wonderful” elixirs will blister my skin with just a drop. Two, do these people have no respect for boundaries and personal space? After two and a half decades of watching salespeople as an adult, clearly, many do not.
My first job was tending shop for a family friend who sold nutritional supplements. I was immersed in my naturopathic studies at the time, so it was a great fit. I remember her instructions: “Answer questions and offer suggestions, but never get pushy with products. I don’t care if other managers are only selling programs. We live in an economically depressed area. People may need what we have, but they won’t buy if they don’t...
“I don’t understand. Did you not read this before you turned it in? It is completely unacceptable. Go back and fix it.”
That was the nicest thing the teacher said to me in front of the class. Several students looked up to stare. As an honor roll student who gave 200% and never missed an assignment, her reaction stunned me. I was humiliated and ashamed because I hadn’t done better.
Not only had I read and reread my first book report, I had gone to her for help three times. That was unusual for me, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around what she wanted. Each time she dismissed me with vague answers. In 1987, there was no Google to show me how to write a book report. I did the best I could and that was her response.
As creatives, it’s easy for us to be overly critical of our work. While we want to share our best efforts, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. When someone we respect reacts negatively to our work, it can really knock our confidence....
Each writer has different needs. But it's great to connect with other writers in the trenches. It's good to know we're not alone. Feel free to visit me on social media and join the discussion.
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