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one word

Writers and word count: One Word in 2015

We’re writers. We’re all about words.

Writing a novella? You’re concentrating on producing around 25 thousand words.

Writing a novel? You’re focused on approximately 90 thousand words.

Words and more words. Yes, sometimes we have — GASP! — edit and rewrite … maybe delete a scene or a chapter. But it’s all about the words.

Today, I want you to consider focusing on one word.

There are 13 days until January 1, 2015.

A lot of us are thinking about the new year and what we want to accomplish. We’re setting goals, maybe mulling over New Year’s resolutions.

Consider this instead:

  • Tear up the list of resolutions you’re writing out. If you’re like me, you’re going to lose track of it by the end of January, right?
  • Pick one word for 2015. It’s simple to remember one word, right? Focus on that One Word for the entire year. Ask God to use that one word to change you through the year.
  • Anchor your One Word to a Scripture verse. I also look for a “visual” of some sort: a photograph with a quote or a bracelet or necklace with my One Word on it. This year a writer-friend sent me a mug with my 2015 word on it.

This is my 10th year choosing one word. My previous One Words have been:

2006: gratitude – I kept a gratitude journal and found my “glass-half-empty” attitude revolutionized.
2007: simplify – A severe illness turned this word into survival. I embraced simpler things in ways I never imagined.
2008: content – as in “be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5) I bought a lot less that year!
2009 & 2010: forgiveness – I had a lot to learn and unlearn about forgiveness.
2011: hope – A word I clung to when life hurt or when my heart ached for others who were hurting. There were times I could have asked “Why?” Instead, I asked myself, “Are you going to abandon hope?” My answer: No.
2012: trust – During a year of change, I faced doubting versus trusting — and chose to trust. I also began posting trust quotes on my Facebook page to encourage myself and others.
2013: confidence – I feel so much stronger emotionally after keeping my heart and mind set on “not throwing away my confidence.” (Hebrews 10:35-36) And yes, I continued the tradition of posting confidence quotes on my FB page.
2014: think – I tried to anchor my thinking to truth more and more, rather than letting my thoughts go wandering into comparisons and expectations and flat out lies.

This year my One Word is collaborate. Isn’t that a beautiful word? I’m specifically applying this word to my writing. I want to collaborate with God as I write.

Collaborate means to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something. Synonyms: co-operate, join forces, team up, band together, work together, participate, combine, ally.

As always, I’ve wanted a verse to anchor my word to, and my treasured friend, author Cynthia Ruchti, shared the perfect one with me while we were at a writers retreat in Monterey:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it (complete it) until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6 NASB)

What about you? Have you ever chosen One Word to focus on for the year? Are you considering One Word for 2015?

 

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Thank you! in typewriter

Social Media Minute—5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Hashtags—especially for Twitter—can be incredibly valuable in helping us increase out audience. But only if we learn to use them correctly.

They’re not that hard, but there are some rules you need to follow so you’re not wasting valuable real estate in your tweets.

Hashtag Refresher

First, lets back up and evaluate the reason we’re all working at building an online presence. We are looking to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. But building new ones can be difficult if the only people we interact with are those we already know, either online or in person.

We can get a little bit of exposure to new folks by our existing connections introducing us, but that’s a time consuming way to go about it.

What if there was a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with? That would be a great way to grow our connections.

THAT, in the simplest of terms, is the purpose of using hashtags.

When you compose a social media update that includes one or two hashtags that summarize the topic—you are giving folks who wouldn’t otherwise have a connection with you—a way to find you.

Here’s an example of the correct way to do this. this is the tweet I use to share this post (minus the link):

5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly – via #SocialMedia

Mentor @EdieMelson #twitter 

5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly

  1. Don’t overload your social media updates with hashtags. The optimum number of hashtags depends on the social media network you’re on.
  • Twitter: two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work.
  • Facebook: no more than one hashtag per update, otherwise you may be unintentionally spamming your followers
  • Instagram: two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work here as well.
  1. Take time to research the best hashtags. Some hashtags are better than others. You won’t know which ones are most current unless you take time research them. The best way to do your research? Do a search on the social media network where you want to use the hashtag. You can also research a hashtag by typing it into the Google search engine and seeing what updates come up.
  1. Making up a new hashtag is fine—if you pair it with a popular hashtag. If I wanted to try to make #TheWriteConversation into a writing hashtag, it wouldn’t do me any good unless I paired it with another popular #writing hashtag. No one is going to know to search for #TheWriteConversation unless I educate them. If I just use #TheWriteConversation, it’s no more than wasted space in my social media update.
  1. Remember a space ends the hashtag. So often I see people forget and add a space in between two words in a hashtag. Once you hit the space bar, the hashtag ends. So #Social Media is really only the hashtag #Social, instead of #SocialMedia. NOTE: this is also true of the @ sign. If I type @Edie Melson, it’s just like I’m typing @Edie, and that person is NOT me.
  1. Leave some room at the end of your tweets so your hashtags aren’t cut off if it’s retweeted. Tweets are only 140 characters long. If I use all 140 characters, then if anyone retweets it, the end will be cut off because there’s no room for the retweeters information that goes at the beginning of the tweet. I try to leave 10 to 15 blank characters, but my absolute minimum is 7. This insures at least one unchanged retweet.

These are my top 5 tips for using hashtags correctly. I’d love for you to share yours. Or, be sure to leave any questions about hashtags you have in the comments section below.

 

 

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5 ways to nurture creativity

5 ways to nurture your creativity during Christmas

Hello!  I’m in the final stretch of a novel this week – trying hard to finish by Friday night, so I can spend the weekend getting ready for my kids coming home.  I plan to NOT WRITE during Christmas break.

Or…do I?

First, I’ll just admit that I’m a bit of a writing addict.  I LOVE to write, even the rough draft stages and when I get an entire day to write it’s like, well, Christmas.  But I also love my family and just hanging out with them, doing puzzles, making cookies, chatting, laughing…so I love that there are mandatory breaks in my life to pry me away from my stories.  When I am in the middle of writing a book, up against a deadline, I’m so full of excitement it’s difficult to look up.  To eat.  To speak clearly.

But, because of Christmas, my brain gets a chance to breathe.

Letting your brain breathe is essential for creativity.  Even when I’m in the middle of a book, taking a day or two off to look up, get out in some fresh air, have a fun, no-stress conversation with friends can stir up a new perspective in my story, a fresh thematic thread, a undiscovered scene.  Letting my brain breathe also breathes new life into my novel.

So, while I won’t be writing, per say, over Christmas, I’ll still be working….and here’s how.

5 effective ways to breathe new life into your creativity while you let your brain cool off.

1. Get outside. Take a walk, run, go play on a playground…just breathe in the fresh air, the sunshine, listen to the wind, smell the snow/leaves/grass.  Somehow being away from the television, the football game (but TiVo it, because, well…it’s football!), the chatter, even the smells of the kitchen will allow you hear your thoughts.  And it’s these thoughts that will allow your creativity to stir to life.

2. Listen.  Here’s the truth:  I get in trouble when I open my mouth.  So, I force myself to listen.  And not just to the happenings in the family, but the stories of the past, and particularly the details of life in the days of our elders. Listen to the rich tales of the past and let it seed ideas for your novels (especially if you are a historical writer).  Take a few notes, ask a few questions and you’ll be surprised and delighted with the things you learn and the seeds of creativity planted.

3. Read a book. Preferably a novel. I suggest reading outside your genre because it will force you to relax and simply let a great novel nurture your creative side.  Turn off your internal editor and simply enjoy the characters, setting, plot points, even theme.  Even though you are not spending time analyzing it, the elements will sit into your brain like fertilizer, and allow those new ideas to grow.  Hey, it’s Christmas – give yourself the gift of reading!

4. Read your Bible, or some other spiritually nourishing book.  I read Oswald Chambers as well as my Bible every day and the daily nourishment of spiritual truth helps me sort out the focus of my daily tasks and even my novels. But when I have a stretch of time like Christmas break, I take extra time to read something that digs deeper – a longer Bible passage, maybe study the Greek of a verse, or perhaps I’ll read a commentary on a passage. (On my lineup for this year:  Jesus is better than you imagined.  I’m already three chapters in and love it.)  It’s like getting a deep tissue massage of my soul, working out the poisons of life and letting the truth flow.  In our busy worlds, if we don’t take time to feed our spirit, we will end up thirsty, and looking to quench it in quick, even unhealthy ways. Feed your soul now, while you have a moment.

5. Go to church. I’ve had the unique opportunity the past few weeks to attend churches different from my home church.  I love the freshness of a new worship situation – even a different denomination.  Over Thanksgiving, I attended a Lutheran church with my parents and soaked in the reverence the liturgy brings to my worship.  A few weeks before, I attended a fresh young church in the inner city with my daughter, and joined the exuberant praise of the college-age students. Their buoyant joy filled my heart with a new enthusiasm for praise.  Both pastors then offered sermons that gave me story ideas and answers for scenes I was struggling with.  I was able to go home, take notes on what I’d heard, and apply them to my story.  All that “breathing time” finally bore fruit.

I don’t know what your Christmas season includes, but give your brain time to breathe, and you’ll find that you’ll return in the new year ready to tackle those NaNoWriMo edits!

Merry Christmas from MBT!

Susie May

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