Friday, August 29, 2014

My Take on Pursuing Writing: Part 2

Last Thursday I talked a little about one of the first steps I believe a person should take towards writing. Click here to read my article about, well, reading.

Today we're talking about my second recommended step, which is probably the one a lot of you think about when you dream of writing a book.

Part Two: Write

Yes. Simple as that. Write. Here are a few quick suggestions for writing your book in a way that won't drive you crazy later.

Write: Good Grammar

As much as you may or may not love the study of English, a basic knowledge of spelling and grammar will make your life a lot easier. I don't recommend trying to write perfectly on your first draft, but do yourself a favor and don't ignore your grammar entirely.

Write: A Good Plotline

Your book won't be perfect on the first draft, but it will be better if you've done some reading and have a good plot developed. If you let your plotting go unattended, your book might end up a mess that you can't fix later. I think of it like a bridge. You want your plot to soar over the waters of ... um ... boring-ness. But if you let it sag on the first draft, you may never be able to restructure it well enough so that it will support your readers. Yeah. I think I can at least pretend that was a good analogy....

So that's that!

Write your book! Do it well the first time, but be prepared: no first draft is a finished product. Next week we'll talk about the third step of writing: Revising! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Take on Pursuing Writing: Part 1

I remember when I thought that getting a book published would be a matter of A) writing a book, and B) submitting it to a publisher, who would gladly accept.

Sadly (or not so sadly), that’s not how it goes.

I’ve learned quite a bit about the traditional publishing world since then. Today I’m going to give you the first of four “stepping stones” that I’ve taken in my pursuit of writing.

A few things to mention before we get too deep into this conversation. First off, the steps I give you are in an order I think will be helpful, but they may or may not actually be in the order I did them. :-)

Now that that confession is out of the way, one more thing. Don’t take anything I say as law. I’m still trying to figure all this out myself, but I’m hoping here to give you the benefit of what I’ve learned. 

Part One: Read

Before you sit down and devote hours of your life to writing, know what you’re getting into.

Read: Books about Writing

There are plenty of books that will teach you about writing, but some I’ve found particularly helpful are Plot Versus Character; The First 50 Pages; and Write Your Novel in a Month, all of which are by Jeff Gerke. He gives easy-to-understand, practical advice about how to actually write a book.

Read: Blogs about Writing and the Publishing Industry

This is an area in which discernment is necessary. Please don’t waste your time reading just anyone’s opinions on writing (though, in fact, that may be what you are doing right now :-) ). The best resource I’ve found for learning about the publishing world is blogs by Christian literary agents. Wondering what an agent is? Read these blogs!
When I found out that agents would freely give out information and guidance, I was thrilled. Here are a few links to get you started:

Some Final Thoughts

For someone truly interested in writing, tapping into resources like this could feel like drowning in gold. It’s amazing, but there’s … so much. It’s a lot to take in.
Don’t overwhelm yourself, especially before you’ve seriously begun writing! Pick one or two things to start reading. Interested in Jeff Gerke’s books? Buy one and read it a bit at a time. Pick one agent’s blog and check in on it once or twice a week. See what the writing world is like.
Once you know a little about what you’re getting into and feeling like you have at least a foggy idea about how to begin writing then you’ll be ready to move on.
Check in next week for Step Two: Writing!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Only Now

I used to believe there were a lot of things I couldn't live without.

But I would've told you otherwise.

Recently the knowledge broke on me that I was thinking this way. Before I'd always tried to be a practical thinker. The only things I couldn't live without were God, food, water, and the like. But the last few days the pictures have crept in. All the things I wanted to hold on to. And perhaps the most troubling problem was that it wasn't really things I wanted. It was moments. Days.

I want to sit in the coffee shop near college with my friends. I want to plug in my headphones, listen to my music, and inefficiently write papers while I'm really talking to those around me.

I want to be in a friend's car and watch the leaves just starting to glow spring-green on trees as several of my friends ride down to a hiking spot.

I want to walk down the little wooden steps on a favorite trail and come to the bottom at an abandoned mine site. I want to stand staring into a crumbled building whose only floor is grass and wonder what it used to be.

I want all of it back.

And I can't have any of it. This obvious truth hit me hard, but it was freeing. I can't have a single moment back. I can go to the coffee shop again. Same friends, same music. Not the same moment.

I can hike to the mine again. Walk past the old buildings. But I can't go back in time.

It's the truth for all of us. Just a second ago when you read that last paragraph, you blinked away that moment and it's gone. The only thing left to us is now.

I feel so freed.

I don't have to try to hold on to or recapture something that's past, because it's impossible. I can be thankful, so thankful for the good times. I can look forward to more. I can praise God for how He's used me for His service, and I can try every day to get closer to Him.

But I can be content in what I have--today--without pointlessly chasing after what's gone.