Encouragement for Faithful Writers everywhere. Please share with your writing friends. (Reading time: under five minutes)
September 28, 2019
Hi, Faithful Writer,
September has brought a rebooting of routines and schedules, but I’m feeling the need to review and reprioritize. John and I are heading “across the pond” on Monday to visit our son and his wife and two little grandsons, so I’m hoping that plane trip will be a good time for prayer, reflection, and brainstorming in my notebook.
I hope for you that September brings energy, resolve, and focus to your writing. If not, don’t despair, but take action steps, even if they’re small and personal. I’d love to hear about it or please share any reflections about this newsletter in the comments below.
Faithful Reflection: The ties that bind
I’ve written before about how much the current political divisiveness in America today saddens me and how important it is for each of us, as individuals, to look for what we have in common rather than how we disagree.
In this spirit, I was enormously moved by Ken Burns’s new documentary “Country Music” that aired this month on PBS. We watched every minute of the eight two-hour shows, and regardless of whether you are a country music fan (I am), you would still be impressed with the way Burns captured the rich complex, multicultural tapestry of the this quintessentially American musical tradition with his trademark story-teller’s gift and his meticulous research. Viewed through my writer’s eye, it was a masterpiece.
But the underlying thread throughout the film was what I found wonderfully hopeful: at its core, country music holds the hopes and fears, the celebrations and laments, the faith and despair of its people. These are universal themes that cross every cultural or socioeconomic divide we might want to construct.
If music is the tie that binds, maybe we should all become song writers!
What books are on your nightstand?
Good writers are good readers, because the ideas, events, people, and places we experience while reading can inform and inspire our writing. Here’s an odd assortment from my reading list:
The Overstory: A Novel, by Richard Powers. This is the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. That high honor does not always make it a memorable book for me, but this is one that will be with me for a long time. I’m about 70% finished. It combines many questions that fascinate me: If trees are living things, what do they feel and how can they interact with humans? When is it okay to break a law for what you feel is a higher purpose? How much risk would you take for what you believe in? Would you risk your life…your reputation? This book will change the way you see trees and forests…in a good way…and it will make you examine your own values and motivations.
As part of this book’s launch team, I recently read Start With Your People: The Daily Decision That Changes Everything by Brian Dixon. It was so much more than a book for entrepreneurs who want to build a following, though it spends a good bit of time applying his principles to corporate or team situations. Its ideas, though, can be for all of us who want to build a life rich with connection, friendship, and mutual support. This quote from the author really stuck with me: “When we really get down to it, our main legacy will be the investment we made in people…Every day we have a choice: to have a people-first mindset or a project-first mindset.”
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon was historical fiction at its best. Meticulously researched to weave reality into its story, it imagines the last fateful hours of the great German dirigible Hindenburg in 1937. It was a riveting tale of espionage, revenge, murder, mystery, and passion—all told against the backdrop of looming war, the fear of being part Jewish in Nazi Germany, and the pressure on the Hindenburg’s crew to prove Germany’s superiority, even in the face of bomb threats, bad weather, and the dangers of a hydrogen-filled airship. As happens in real life, the characters’ decisions, good and bad, impacted their own lives the the lives of so many others.
I’d love to know what you’re reading right now. Hit “Reply” to this email and let me know. CLICK HERE to see my entire reading list for 2018 and 2019. When you purchase any books from the Amazon links on that page, the small affiliate fee helps support this newsletter and my blog.
Faithful Writing Quotes
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” ~ Richard Bach
“Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” ~ Carl Sagan
Writing Tip of the Month
Always be clear
Whether you are making a case or describing a scene, write as clearly as you possibly can. C.S. Lewis taught his students that clarity leads to elegance and quality in good writing. A good editor or a truthful beta reader can help you enormously with this.
You can find shareable images for this and earlier Tips for #FaithfulWriters HERE.
September Writer’s Resource
Think Written website and writing prompts
This website is chock full of all kinds of writing tips and resources, but this month I particularly wanted to suggest you check out “365 Creative Writing Prompts.” What makes you a writer is writing, so if you’re struggling with what to put on the blank page, writing prompts are pure gold. “Whether you write short stories, poems, or like to keep a journal – these will stretch your imagination and give you some ideas for topics to write about!”
If you have any writerly resources you’d like to share with others in the group, hit Reply and email me or share it in the Faithful Writers Facebook group.
Faithful Writer Spotlight: Barbara Richman
Greetings, fellow authors and authors-to-be. May I introduce myself:
I’m Barbara, a middle-aged Christian married lady who aspires to write a nonfiction Christian book regarding the importance of a balanced life. My personal website link is: http://www.barbarasretreat.us/ and you can find me on Pinterest here: https://www.pinterest.com/bar112/.
The Bible has so much relevant information to life today, in the past and into the future because God’s Word is eternal. I enjoy all things beautiful, good and true.
Some writing tips I utilize to prepare myself for (perhaps lifetime goal) of writing my book:
- Write at every opportunity. For example, I enjoy writing Apple App reviews. Often I find myself interacting with app developers themselves regarding features, etc.
- Be inspired. I have many old books that touch on the balanced life subject. For example, Rick Warren’s “A Purpose Driven Life.” Of course, our books are to be our own with original material and ideas, but it’s good to have a backdrop of reference materials to guide and direct our thoughts and organize our work.
- Write down those thoughts when they come to you, even if that is in the middle of the night—just get it down on paper (or iPhone Notes). Some fleeting ideas dissipate, never to return.
- Use helpful apps I really like: For iPad: Scrivener and Outline (for overall organizing), Voice Dream Writer (thesaurus) and Apple default Notes app (best for finding things you’ve previously written); For MacBook: Nisus Writer and Microsoft Word (thesaurus). There are many others you can discover that will make writing easier and generate ideas.
- Use visuals: Personally, I’m a visual learner; pictures illustrating concepts, charts and graphs and photos all help to enhance learning and spark thought.
- Don’t personalize it too much. Unless you’re writing an autobiography, I recommend not inserting your own life and feelings too much. I certainly won’t be, since I want my book to appeal to a broad range of people from all walks of life. I’m turned off by books that consistently return to the writer and how he/she feels, personal experiences, etc. By all means, include some examples such as personal experiences, but not solely your own. Expand your horizons and your book will reach a broader audience.
That’s it for now. I’m happy to be a part of this Writers’ Group!
Elizabeth’s note: I deeply appreciate all of you who are letting me include you in this spotlight column (I’m reaching out to you in the order you joined our group). Barbara was especially brave because she hasn’t yet published and wondered if she should participate in this, but I assured her that there are many of us in the same boat, and the idea of Faithful Writers is about writing, not necessarily publishing.
New on the Heartspoken Blog
Life Is Like A River: Keep It Unpolluted – Life is like a river, made up of many smaller streams. Are you taking care of the streams flowing into your life’s river to keep them unpolluted?
Heartspoken Moment: Listen (#1) – Take just a moment to stop and listen—to really appreciate the miracle of hearing. It can change the trajectory of your whole day.
Storm’s Comin’ In! – Bad storms come—in weather and in life. But they never last forever. I used this piece for my first public reading at our local art gallery recently.
Paperless Post: Technology To The Rescue – my review of this interesting service that makes it easy to send and track invitations and beautifully designed correspondence.
If you’re not receiving my other Heartspoken Newsletter “Compass Points,” you’re missing out on content not found on the blog. Email me if you’d like me to send you a sample or CLICK HERE to get it in your own Inbox on the second Saturday of each month.
That’s it for this month. I’ll be with you again in October.
P.S. Have a question or comment? Need some help? Just reply to this email…it will come straight to me and I’ll respond.
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