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.
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 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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