No Time Like the Present

I posted this pic on our Facebook wall this morning. [Head on over and “like” us if you haven’t already!]

I found it floating around on Pinterest and couldn’t help but pin it (it’s actually a clock you can buy; I think it would fit great above my future writing desk ūüėČ ).

There is truly no time like the present. It will soon be gone. This moment that I have right now, how will I spend it?

I make up so many excuses not to write…it’s time I make up a list of excuse¬†to¬†write.

Here goes:

– I was born to write

– I have something to say

– I have a rough draft of the second book in the Talon Family Series due by the end of November

– I have an audience to reach

– I have the time

What are your excuses for not writing?

Now go ahead and replace them with a list of excuses for writing.

There’s no time like the present.

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4 Blog Posts to Inspire You [Take 2]

It’s time to gather some more inspiration from around the blogosphere. It’s been a few weeks since the last time.

Because some days are just hard writing days. Or dry. Or…nothing.

When the cursor just blinks at you. And there is nothing. And you need something.

Anything.

So, here are a few articles I’ve come across lately that I hope will inspire you as you write:

1. Because You Can on creating via Jasmine Star.

2. Five Things You Can Do – This Week – to Become a Better Writer via Writer’s Relief.

3. A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content per Week via Copyblogger.

4. Fear Prohibits Ideas from Happening via Jeff Goins.

I hope these help. I hope they give you something.

Anything.

And I hope they inspire you to keep on writing!

Question: what’s been inspiring you lately? Link to it in the comments!

My Favorite Professor’s #1 Tip for Getting Published

Don’t wait to feel “good enough” to get published. Put yourself out there.¬†Starting now.

That was the message my favorite professor communicated over and over again.

Actually, he never said a word about “being good enough” or “not being good enough.” He believed his students were writers. That I¬†was a writer. And that fact meant I should pursue publishing. Right away. No excuses.

He even made it a requirement in a couple of classes. I had to get at least one piece published during the semester as part of my grade.

I was terrified. Because I didn’t believe in myself or my writing as much as my professor did. He acted like it was a given.

“Don’t worry. Send your piece in. It will happen.”

Amidst my doubts, my fears and my insecurities,  I wrote. I sent in a piece. And Рlow and behold Рmy professor was right. I got published.

Not once. Not Twice. But multiple times. I was thrilled!

While I don’t think those doubts, fears or insecurities ever fully go away (I had them with our book), I will always remember my professor’s¬†belief in me as a writer.

And his #1 tip for getting published: Put yourself out there. Starting now.

Question: Do you have doubts when it comes to getting published? If so, how have you pushed through them?

How I Started Writing

(It’s a little grainy…but it’s me)

When I was 11 years old I wrote my first book.

I honestly can’t even remember what it was about. Nor do I still have that first book. I wish I did. I’m sure it would provide plenty of entertainment on this side of things.

I do know that I poured my heart into that book (we’re talking a “book” that was 15 hand-written pages max). I was so proud of it. It felt like such an accomplishment.

It was written in pencil. On lined notebook paper. I’m pretty sure the main character was a girl. My age. My height. Like me. A girl who had dreams. A girl who wanted to go on grand adventures. And I’m pretty sure that girl loved to write, too.

So, that’s how I started writing. I might have kept a diary before then, but – if I did – I have no remembrance of it. I really have no remembrance of writing at all before my “book.”

I should have known then. What I was born to do. Write. Spill out my heart, my dreams, my ideas, my myriad of words onto an empty page. And not even worry if someone would ever read them. Or even want to.

When I was 11 years old, I wrote because I loved to write. Because I was born to write.

That’s how I want to write now. Not for an audience. Not worried whether someone will ever read the words I write. Or even want to.

I want to write just for the love of writing.

Question: How did you start writing?

 

My #1 Fear When It Comes to Writing

I read this article today by Chris Brogan. And it got me thinking.

What patterns do I have in my writing? And are they adding value? Are they working?

If they are…why? If they aren’t…what do I need to change?

Right now I write in my spare time. In odd moments here and there when I have time to string the words together. That’s my pattern – sporadic. I try to post on this blog at least twice a week, but that doesn’t always happen. Is it possible that not having a pattern can be a pattern?

But what other patterns do I have that – if changed or adjusted – could give me more time to establish consistent writing patterns?

Maybe over-checking Facebook, Twitter & Instagram can end
Maybe procrastinating can end
Maybe getting up a little earlier can start
Maybe embracing imperfection can start

As I am writing I realize that one of the biggest, most consistent writing patterns I have is…not writing. And the usual reason for that is…the fear of being imperfect.

Not writing well enough.
Not writing witty enough.
Not writing deep enough.
Not writing thorough enough.

When my real fear should be not writing at all.

So, the biggest writing pattern I have that I want to end? Not writing.

The biggest writing pattern I want to start? Writing.

Question: what writing patterns do you have that you want to end? Start?

4 Inspiring Blog Posts on Writing

I don’t know about you, but some days I just need a little inspiration.

So, here are a few blog posts that have inspired me lately:

1. A post on 4 ways to organize your writing via Writers Relief.

2. A post on spreading ideas vs. selling books via Jeff Goins Writer.

3. A post on embracing discomfort (so applicable for writing!) via Michael Hyatt.

4. A post on the top 10 traits of successful authors (#6 being they don’t give up) via Terry Cordingley.

Question: What’s been inspiring you lately? Link to it in the comments – we would love to know!

Write Un-Edited

I just set the timer for five minutes.

Five minutes to write whatever comes into my head on the topic of “writing un-edited.”

—–

Just let the words spill out onto the page…flowing…saying what they need to say. Without me getting in the middle, wading in with a giant machete that is my “backspace” button and destroying all their unfettered wondered. Sometimes you just have to let go. Let the words do the work. Just type. That’s all they ask sometimes – for you to type so that they can be heard.

There is a time and a place for editing. Certainly it is one of the most important components of good writing. But first you have to write unedited. Or else you may never get anything down on the page. If you self-edit before it’s time to edit, your words may come out stuffy and un-you…not what you want or what the world needs.

Whenever you sit to write…or you’ve been sitting to write over and over and over again…wondering what to say, how to say it…just write unedited. Let the words speak for themselves. Unfettered.

Wonderful things may come. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t hold yourself to some invisible standard – that your words have to be perfect before they even hit the page. Just write. Or, rather, let the words write for you. Your job is to write [or type]. Only write.

Editing will come later. Never fear. There will be time enough for that. But not now. For now just let the words write for you.

—–

My five minutes is up and the above was what I got. Rough. In need of corrections. Un-edited. The tense needs work. Punctuation. Some of the ideas need to be more fully developed. But I have 235 words. In five minutes. It’s a place to start.

Try it: set a timer for five minutes and just let the words write for you. Don’t use the backspace key. Don’t erase. Just write. You’ll be surprise at what happens.

Let me know how it goes!

Write for You

It’s easy to get lost.

Speaking for myself anyways. That’s especially true when it comes to writing.

Sometimes my voice gets lost in the pressure to write something. Something that will “wow,” that will change the world, that will make it into the history books. Sometimes I get lost.

The pressure to produce can be suffocating, overwhelming. And I have to remind myself constantly who I’m writing for. I am sure you – if you strive to write anything at all – have to do the same thing, too.

Whether it’s a blog post, a magazine article, a novel or a Facebook status: it’s so easy to forget who you’re writing for. Or, rather, who you should be writing for.

Yourself.

You need to write for you. I need to write for me. And not because we want to “wow” the world. Because we love to write. Not to be selfish or egotistical. But because we want to be true to ourselves. To our voices. To what we were placed on this earth to say.

Are you writing for yourself or someone else?

If you’re serious about finding out, ask yourself why you write.

Is it just to be heard? Or is it because you have to write or you’ll explode? Is it so someone will notice you, pat you on the back and say “good job”? Or is it because you would write even if you were the only person on the face of the earth?

The reason you write will tell you a lot about who you’re writing for.

And that can mean the difference between losing your voice and finding it.

Quick Tip: put “write for you” on a sticky note and post it where you’ll see it every day.

Question: Who do you write for? How do you remind yourself to write for you?

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P.S. Make sure to read the first post in this series: “3 Ways to Write When You Feel Like You Can’t“.

5 Things I Learned About Writing from Earning My Masters

It was either buy a house or earn my masters.

This was the “fork in the road” I came to a little over three years ago. I knew I couldn’t do both, and I didn’t really want to.

I chose the masters. And I can honestly say that I would make the same choice all over again. Property is certainly valuable and worthy of investment. It is real, tangible, something that can be built upon.

But, then again, so is education.

Here are 5 things I learned about writing from earning my masters:

1.) How to produce quality content consistently.

For two solid years I pounded out word after word, project after project, paper after paper. There were times I thought I would die.

But, of course, I didn’t. I survived. Even more than that – I learned to excel. It turned out (for me anyways) more pressure = more product. And the more I produced, the more I learned what quality looked like. And the more I learned what quality looked like, the more consistent I became. I learned to cut the fluff.

Quick Tip: When you feel like giving up DON’T. And never forget to stop, breathe and take in your surroundings. That’s the key to producing quality content consistently – remember where you’ve come from, assess where you’re at and aim just a little bit higher the next time.

2.) How to meet multiple deadlines.

Deadline after deadline after deadline. Sometimes 4-5 major deadlines at any given time. Sometimes less. Sometimes more. Keeping them all straight was the hardest part. So, I made lists of my deadlines and lists of the lists of my deadlines. I was (still am) obsessed with lists, what can I say?

It all worked out. Every time I started to panic, I would just tell myself: it always gets done. And it did. Because I made sure I was organized enough to get it done.

Quick Tip: Your best friend when it comes to meeting writing deadlines is organization. Maybe you need to print out a calendar for the month. Maybe you need to use your Outlook. Maybe you need brightly colored sticky notes. Maybe you work better with just a plain, old list on notebook paper. Whatever organization method you prefer – find it, use it, own it.

3.) How to receive critique and apply it.

Boy, this can be tough. Every professor (or editor) gives critique differently. And some projects are a little dearer to the heart than others. Critique can be hard to swallow. It can be even harder to apply.

I learned to take a project that had been critiqued and make a list of the comments and changes my professor had. That way I could see them all at once – see the height, the depth and breadth of them – and tackle them one by one. Nothing missed.

Quick Tip: Remember two things: 1.) you’re not the first. 2.) And critique applied = your success.

4.) How to write on any topic.

Because in school, you don’t always get a choice. Sometimes I had to write on a totally, completely and absolutely dry (to me) topic. I felt uninspired. I felt intimidated. I felt stupid (in a “should-i-know-more-about-this-than-i-do????” kind of way).

And that’s when I had to change my perspective. It wasn’t about what I didn’t know. It was about what I did know. It was about what I could bring to the table – what my background, personality and strengths could bring to the topic I was covering.

Quick Tip: Don’t fixate on what you don’t know. Figure out what you do know about the topic. Find your unique angle, say & do what only you can say & do and leave your stamp.

5.) How to learn.

Knowing how to learn is essential to becoming a better writer. Period. Earning my masters taught me more about the art of learning (consequently making me a better writer) than I ever thought possible.

I realized that just because a ton of information was being thrown at me didn’t mean I was learning. And I needed to be able to learn in order to improve as a writer.

To really learn, I realized I had to be able to:

– think for myself
– figure out which study processes worked for me and which didn’t
– develop techniques to remember information
– interact professionally with a wide range of fellow students and professors
– manage my time well
take responsibility for my work

Quick Tip: If you know how to learn, the world is yours Рas a writer and as an individual.

Question: What have you learned about writing?

3 Ways to Write When You Feel Like You Can’t

If you’re a writer, you’ve struggled with doubts about your writing ability.

Or doubts about your message.

Or doubts that anyone will ever want to read what you have to write.

I know I have.

After years of writing, earning my Masters in Journalism, having small works & articles published multiple times and now co-authoring my first book with my dad, I still have a myriad of doubts – doubts that keep me from writing more times than I’d like to admit.

I know these doubts are just feelings (they’re not reality). So, here are 3 ways to write when you feel like you can’t:

1. Write for you.

Sometimes you forget the truth – the real reason you write is because you love to write.¬†You were born to write. You don’t ultimately write for an audience. You don’t write to impress others. You don’t write so the whole world will sit up and take notice. You write for you – to be true to yourself and what God has called you to accomplish. If only you and God read what you write, you have succeeded.¬†

2. Write un-edited.

Too often you edit yourself before you even put one word on the page. The voice of doubt too often decides what deserves to be written and what doesn’t…and it shouldn’t. At times like this, you have to remind yourself to simply write. With no filter. Just let the words flow onto the page, come what may. Some of your best writing happens when you give yourself permission to write what you heart wants to say – when you write unedited.

3. Write anyways.

Whether you feel like you can or not. No matter what the voice of doubt is whispering in your head. Write anyways. When all is said (written) and done, what you write may not be anything groundbreaking. It might not be anything anyone else will ever read. But at least you’ve written something. You haven’t given in to the voice that says you can’t.

Question: What ways do you write when you feel like you can’t?

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Other posts in this series: