So, it looks like I missed the Monday updates. Those of you who know me, know that I love to write. You also know the church I pastor is first, and lately I’ve been so busy with other things. Writing has had to take a back seat. Some things came up yesterday. There was no way around it – so here I am on Tuesday with the Monday update. Well, everybody has an excuse, don’t they? I sincerely do apologize for not checking in until today.
It has also become necessary for my latest project, The Marisol Deception, to be put on hold. Slowly, I’ll get rolling again, but for now, pretend Tuesday is really Monday. That will help develop your imagination for your next fiction project.
As we get ready to look ahead into February, I see that January is dying a quiet death. There’s not a lot new to report. This week’s question, of course, is up and ready for your answers, and the new featured excerpt is up. My HubPages friend, Eric Dierker has been laid up in the hospital and rehab for a while and is now getting back into the swing of things. I featured a piece from his regular Sunday Sermon series which you can read each Sunday on HP. Welcome him back, and let him know how much you appreciate him.
It’s been hard finding quality time to write lately. A few minutes here. A few minutes there. Marisol is moving along very slowly. The projected publishing date is set for sometime in June so I better get moving.
In the meantime, carry on with what you find to do. There’s a verse in the Bible that say,s “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” The tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant at the age of 41 reminds us all that we aren’t promised tomorrow. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it now.
We’ll get back to sharing some writing tips soon. Until then . . . Carry on!
As a self-published author, I’m involved in every aspect of my books from start to finish. That includes not only the written word, but the marketing, cover design, layout, etc. It can be time-consuming but also very rewarding.
But writing isn’t my only passion. First and foremost, I am the pastor of a small church in rural Central Pennsylvania, and it is my joy to share the story of Jesus with anyone who will listen.
I’ve found over the years that these two (writing and pastoring) can often go together. Whether it’s the spoken word or the written word, God’s Word can and does go out the same. So, I have something special for you at the beginning of the new year and decade. You just need to grab it and go.
Because I so strongly believe in what I write, I’m making available to anyone a free copy of my book, Storming Heaven’s Gates, a book on Christian revival. This is not a fiction book, but I do believe it will be helpful to anyone that desires a closer walk with God. Just send me a name and delivery address and it’s on its way. Please don’t order from the Books and Resources page as this will charge you at checkout. Send the information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not share email addresses and your information is safe. You can also use this address to communicate with me about anything.
No doubt, there will be other freebies throughout the year, so stay tuned. I hope you’re enjoying the start of 2020. It will be what we make it. Until next week.
On this Monday morning, early in this new decade, I’ve been thinking about what holds me back – not just in writing although that’s certainly included, but in life in its entirety. Coming in at Number One is a lack of time. But wait a minute! We all have 24 hours each day to deal with, right? So the problem must not be time. It must be me. How do I spend the time that’s been graciously given to me?
I guess it comes down to organization. Is my time organized? As I always do, in the beginning of each year, I bought myself an organizer where I can track my work, set my goals, and it even has a section where I can write in rewards for myself once the tasks are completed.
That’s all fine, but there is one problem. I don’t have time to keep it up. Also as I do every year, I end up trashing the organizer because it’s never up to date. My intentioins are good, but my commitment, not so much. I suppose it goes against every rule. I suppose it makes even less sense, but I really do accomplish more without a plan.
Another thing about time – I’ve reached the point in my life when I can look back and realize I’ve spent 75% of my life. If my lfe were divided into seasons, I would definintely be in winter. More days are behind me than are ahead for me.
So the next question is, am I satisfied with the spring, summer, and fall of my life? It doesn’t really matter. The question that is important is, whay will I do with my winter?
Maybe the better question is what are you doing with your season of life? What is your worst enemy? Perhaps it is also time. Maybe haunting memories of a failed past? Could it be fear? A fear so strong it actually stops you from moving forward. Is laziness your enemy? It could likely be something else, but deep inside you know what it is. It’s time to bring it to the surface and deal with it. Add that to your Day-timer.
Well, I’ll leave it there for this week, and see you in seven. Have a great one!!!
There is only one January 6, 2020. This is it! Go for it!
Time continues to travel on. And so do we. The new question is up. Give me your thoughts. The featured excerpt is up as well. We’ll begin the year with a taste of Nikki Khan’s writing in her piece, Life Is Blessing – a short Story. She’ll give you much to think about.
Now, let’s move on. Ever have a problem getting your writing into gear? If not, you’re a rare breed. Most of us have, but did you know that neuroscience can aid you in your quest for words? Here are some things that might help.
Learn to make writing fun. Visualize the future.
Often, we think of writing as something we should do. Unfortunately, should can lead to negative feelings. Most likely, should will cause you to feel less like writing. By applying neuroscience we can retrain the brain to look forward to our time at the keyboard.
How does this work? Quickly make a list of as many positive things as you can that will take place when you’re done writing. Maybe consider these:
How will you feel when you see your book published or hold it your hands?
What opportunities might it open up for you?
Will you win prizes? Get a contract? Think BIG!
I’m told that envisioning future success releases dopamine into the brain that gives us a sense of happiness, thus we are more motivated.
Create a trigger to form new writing habits.
To develop good writing habits, we can use triggers to our advantage. Think about the things you do without thinking. Here are some examples and how to implement them.
When I get home from the school run, then I’ll do 30 minutes of writing.
When I have my first coffee of the day, then I’ll write 500 words of my article.
When I get home from work, then I’ll spend 45 mins on my book.
The neuroscience behind this – when you fuse together an action, you do regularly with an action that you want to do more of, you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain.
Break your writing into small steps
Have you ever failed at a new habit? Maybe a new fitness routine at the gym? Maybe a new study habit?
Why did you fail? You may be surprised to learn that fear can be at the center of failing. The new habit may be too ambitious or even too complicated. Such feelings can trigger the amygdala – the fear portion of the brain. The result likely could be putting off or delaying the exercise. You might even be overwhlemed by it. So what can you do?
Show up at your desk once a day at a set time and even if you don’t do any writing – reserve that time solely for writing and nothing else.
Write for 10-15 minutes each day and slowly increase the time the over the course of two weeks.
Produce a piece of freewriting every day (an unblocking technique where you splurge your thoughts without judging or editing).
Write in a journal every morning or evening.
Get a timer and find somewhere you can’t be interrupted, set it for 25 minutes. Write. Then, take a five-minute break. Set the timer for another 25 minutes.
So you’ve turned off the fear factor. Now, turn on the pleasure center of your brain. Reward yurself for a job well done. Small rewards will trigger the pleasure center of your brain, and by doing so, will strengthen the writing habit even more.
Ask yourself, what small reward could you give yourself after your next writing session?
Don’t make your reward too big or too tiny, make it something small that you would look forward to receiving (or eating!) after a writing session.
Be sure to reward the effort you put in, not the quantity. There is a big difference.
Well, there you have it. Go into 2020 flying, but don’t burn out. Pace yourself. Set reasonable goals, and keep plugging away. 2020 looks to be promising year. Have a happy one.
On October 22, 1966, Simon and Garfunkel released the song, A Hazy Shade of Winter. It was first released as a single and later added to the duo’s fourth studio album, Bookends. The song lamented the passage of time. Paul Simon writes,
Time, time time, see what’s become of me While I looked around for my possibilities I was so hard to please
There can be no doubt, time moves on turning minutes into hours and hours into untold years, never minding what we say or do. You can mourn the loss of time, or you can capitalize on the present. I vote for the latter.
We’ve each been given a certain amount of days to accomplish all that we were created to accomplish. The new year is upon us. Rather than dwell on the failures of the past (and we all have them), focus on what’s ahead. What lies before you in the coming year? You may not know, but take one step at a time and fulfill your calling.
The wisest of wise men, King Solomon wrote, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven , , ,” Everything in living has its time and place. Organize it and make it all count. You have only one shot at this thing called Life. Do it right in the coming year.
Don’t come to the end (and no one knows when that will be) with the attitude,
Time where have you gone to? You left me far behind And though it seems I’ve missed you, You never crossed my mind.
That’s it for this week. Again with the holiday looming over us, I didn’t add an excerpt or question for this week. We’ll get back to it next week. Have a happy and healthy 2020, and I’ll see you next Monday.
There are no updates this week because . . . It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so they say. Christmas should be everyday, don’t you think? The prophets foretold it. The rabbis taught it. The angels declared it. The shepherds witnessed it. Today, we celebrate it. But how? And why?
Satan has no originality. He can only imitate and copy what’s already taken place, what’s already been done. Still, he would like to destroy the true meaning and purpose of Christmas. So along came Santa Claus. Has he replaced Jesus as the reason for the season? Think of the likenesses and consider the following list. You may want to check it twice.
1. Both have hair like wool (Revelation 1:14; Daniel 7:9)
2. Both have beards (Isaiah 50:6; Revelation 1:14)
3. Both come from the north (Ezekiel 1:4; Psalm 48:2)
4. Both are omniscient–all knowing (Revelation 19:6)
5. Both are ageless and eternal (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; Hebrews 13:8)
6. Both make a list of judgments (Revelation 14:7; 20:12; II Corinthians 5:10)
7. Both check their list (Matthew 10:26; II Corinthians 5:10)
8. Both give gifts on the basis of the list (Matthew 25:21; Revelation 21:27; 22:14)
9. Both involve rewards once yearly–Day of Atonement
10. Both receive our confession of sins (I John 2:1; I Timothy 2:5)
11. Both ask children to obey parents (Proverbs 6:20; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20)
12. Both deal with Christ’s “supposed” birthday
13. The hour of their coming is a mystery (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:33; Luke 12:40)
14. Both use a light for guidance–Rudolph’s nose (Matthew 2:2, 7, 9, 10; Numbers 24:17)
15. Both call all children to their knee (Matthew 19:14; Luke 18:16)
16. Both have a twinkle in their eye (Revelation 1:14; 2:18)
17. Both will make a swift visit to the whole world in one day (Isaiah 47:9; Revelation 18:8)
18. Both are omnispresent–Santa is found in every mall at the same time (Psalm 139:7-10)
19. If I may use just one verse out of context–both say “ho, ho”. (Zecheriah 2:6).
Merry Christmas to all and to all a very blessed holiday season!
This week’s updates are complete. I chose an excerpt from Lori Colbo’s piece, Mary’s Song: The First Christmas Carol, for this week’s excerpt. It’s a very powerful write. Be sure to check it out in its entirity by following the link on the Excerpt page.
The new question has also been posted as well.
Now on to something to think about – perfection. Years ago, I was a guitarist in a rock-n-roll band. I loved music (and still do), but as a musician, every note had to be right on. If I made one mistake during a show, it would haunt me over and over again. Let me tell you, I made many more than one mistake during a night’s performance. Perfection drove me crazy. I was never satisfied, and I lived as if there was an egg shell under each foot.
We, in the creative arts, of which writing is, have a natural tendency toward perfectionism. You may think that’s a good thing, but it is not good for creativity. It may have a constructive use when it comes to the final edit, but it crushes creativity.
Perfectionism will not help you: – come up with ideas – bring the story to life – develop your imagination
These things may help when dealing with perfection. Although we long for it, realize we’ll never achieve it. Try setting a regular writing schedule for yourself. Consistency goes a long way. Just write. Be sloppy. You can always go back later and fix it. But don’t go back too soon. I have heard it said that even six months later may not be too long to wait.
But the most imporatant thing is to have fun. One of the things I learned from my band days is, I’ll never get it right all the time, and neither will you. Just write and savor the moment. Another thing I learned was, I may not do it perfectly, but satisfaction comes from doing the best job I possibly can. To sum it up, don’t strive for perfection. Stirve to be the best you can be.
Well, that’s it for another Monday. See you next week!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know some of you don’t like snow, but on a gloomy, rainy, Pennsylvania Monday, I’m looking forward to the mountains turning a shimmering white on December 25. As little J. P. would say in Angels in the Outfield, “It could happen!” Even if you don’t care for snow, you have to admit, there’s a certain beauty about it that you don’t find in spring, summer, or fall. Anyway . . .
Be sure to check out the updated Featured Excerpt. This week it’s from Lawrence Hebb’s series, Spaceship Earth. He has some good thoughts, and as always, good writing. The new question is up, and I’m witing for answers, too.
How about some thoughts on overused words. These ideas were expressed on ProWritingAid.com, and I found them very useful. There are so many bad habits we can fall into. Or maybe, at times, we don’t even realize they’re bad. So here’s my two cents for this week –
#1: Words with indefinite meanings can be overused with no real purpose.
Words like “could”, “might” and “maybe” are indefinite in their meaning. If your writing contains a lot of these indecisive words, it will feel flimsy.
#2: If you’ve been writing for more than six months, then you know toshow, not tell, but often we overuse words that only tell, not show.
Words like “knew”, “felt” and “saw” are examples of “telling” rather than “showing.” Writing should be evocative, so if you’re using too many “telling” words your work will be less strong.
#3: Depending On Intensifiers can cause an overuse of words. And they add little to your writing.
Intensifiers like “very”, “so” and “really” add little to your reader’s understanding. Instead, replace your weak words with a word strong enough that you don’t need an intensifier.
#4: Nonspecific Words
If someone tells you a book is “interesting”, that tells you almost nothing about the content of the book. When possible, choose words that have precise meanings and talk about specifics.
I think your writing will be cleaner and more consise. The problem is being aware of what makes good writing good when you’re writing – try that three times fast. As we grow, eventually these things will become habit and you can move on to another step to improve your writing – just some things to think about.
Well, here’s hoping you all get a ton of snow for Christmas! See you next week.
Well, Cadeyrn’s Tale is finally complete. For a shorter book, it seemed as if it would never be finished. You can get it here on the website or from Amazon. Of course, by ordering it here, you get free shipping.
That being said, Central PA is once again coated with white. The storm that hit the nation left us pretty much alone, but there is a sprinkling of snow over the countryside – very pretty!
Now, for something practical. Let’s talk about those nasty adverbs that we tend to overuse. We certainly want our writing to be descriptive. We want it to be expressive. Adverbs are most often used to strengthen or prop up weak verbs. If we choose to use strong, descriptive verbs, the need for adverbs will be lessened.
All things considered, there will be times when an adverb will be your best choice of words. But adverbs can cause us to be lazy writers. To be honest, I’m an adverb abuser, but we live and learn.
Take the above sentence from the third paragraph, We certainly want our writing to be descriptive. The adverb certainly adds strength to the sentence. It emphasizes our desire for good writing. But could the sentence be stronger if we used a little thought and creativity? What if we chose a stronger word for the verb want? What if we eliminated the adverb and replaced the weak verb with the word crave? We crave for our writing to be descriptive. Is there a difference?
Take the next sentence – We want it to be expressive. We have removed the the adverb, but a weak verb (want) still exists. We don’t care to repeat the verb crave, especially in back-to-back sentences. Maybe we could substitute desire or long for. We desire it to be expressive. We long for it to be expressive.
Okay. So I think you get the idea, and that’s my two cents for another Monday. See you next week!