I’ve come to my office to write. That’s the plan, but my actual behavior is often quite different from my intent:
- 9:30 AM Go upstairs to office
- 9:35 AM Tidy desk, clean up desktop, align folders.
- 9:45 AM Check emails (there might be a message from my agent or an editor, or even that contest I entered…oh, there’s the church bulletin, and that writers’ loop has some great topics. Better skim through before I delete. A sale at amazon.com?)
Read! Not me!! “I am a writer,” I declared. So I slavishly struggled my words onto paper for years, feeling guilty every time I stopped for a relaxing reading break. Then someone told me writers need to read, read and read some more!
Every writer should have a notebook that goes everywhere with them and is used every day. Why? Here are my top five reasons:
1. To keep track of possible topics for stories or articles – Ideas come to writers at the strangest times and places. You could be sleeping, or walking down the sidewalk, or driving in your car.
Struggling with a topic? Don’t know how to get that fascinating novel onto paper? Let me ask …do you journal? Our story may actually set someone else on the path to freedom because it gives encouragement and hope. It honours God and becomes a ‘remembrance’ stone.
A student wrote a story about a day she walked her dog to the park and about their discovery of a body. She had hurried to a nearby house to ask someone to call police, and when the police arrived, they wanted her to give a statement. She wrote that she felt shaken from the experience.
Those are the bare bones of a potentially bigger story and the emotion inherent in such a scene—not that we want to go for a walk any day and find a body.
I have it on good authority that you are not alone in getting rejections. It’s part of the writing business. It’s painful, I’ll allow, for I have received them too. But truly, what do you do with your rejection notices?
A phrase we hear often as writers is “Show, don’t tell.” One way we can do this more effectively is to include descriptions using all five senses. “Sensory words paint vivid pictures that relate to the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. In fiction, non-fiction and poetry, they serve as a type of shorthand to evoke memories or feelings
Have you ever had a day that you couldn’t write? When the blank computer screen seems to taunt you? You’re not alone. Books and articles have been written on the topic, telling writers how to break free of it and what to do when it hits.
I’ve heard it said many times….’write what you know.’ Writing what we know can be a good springboard for developing stories that have impact.
It’s what Harper Lee did. She penned one book – one book only – but that one book, To Kill a Mockingbird, has been read and reread and even made into a movie. Harper Lee grew up in Alabama seeing the racial tensions. Her dad was a lawyer, her mom mentally ill and she, like the little girl in her story, was a tomboy.