Four Gifts No Writer Can Do Without, Part 4: Hope

As we place the period at the end of a roller coaster year and usher in a brand new 2013, the one thing a writer absolutely can NOT do without is hope.

There are many reasons why people have lost hope in their dreams of being an author. I’m sure you know many of the reasons so I won’t use precious word count to name them.

What is important to list is all the reasons why you should have hope, and why you simply can’t be without it.

Hope is the fuel that churns the engine of creativity. To be a successful writer, you must be creative and that is not possible unless you have hope.

Hope is the magic that takes you to your happy place. Ok, at the risk of sounding fairytale-ish, remember Peter Pan and Tinkerbell? What did she tell him when he couldn’t fly? “Think Happy Thoughts”. If Peter hadn’t hoped he could fly, he wouldn’t have been able to think those happy thoughts.

Hope gives you the tenacity to hang on long after anyone else would have abandoned the dream. No one is going to continue to climb Mt. Everest if they have no hope of reaching the summit. It just doesn’t happen. But on the contrary, hope will take you to the peak of the highest mountain on earth long after your physical strength has depleted.

Hope defends your emotions against all the skeletons in your closet and will fight for your right to live your dream. When those ugly bags of bones rear their ugly heads and try to pull you into their clutches, hope defends your honor, fights your battle and wins on your behalf.

I think you can see that you simply cannot be without hope. Here’s the great thing. Having hope is entirely in YOUR control. That’s right. It’s a state of mind. You choose to have hope or to slither through life in utter despair and hopelessness. That means YOU are in control.

You know, it just doesn’t get much better than that!

As you say farewell to the 365 days called 2012, make the decision that you are going to embrace 2013 with hope that you will live your life in such a way, you will move closer to living your dream. You deserve it. So do your future readers.

On behalf of the My Book Therapy Coaches, I wish you a happy, hope-filled 2013. It has been out pleasure serving you this last year and we look forward to our journey together in the new year.

Here’s to hope… and to your success!

Dr. Reba J. Hoffman, Member Care Coach

Dr. Reba J. Hoffman is the My Book Therapy Life Coach.

Follow her blog at:  www.magellanlifecoaching.com

 

 

Writing Over the Holidays

It’s the holiday season and if you’re anything like me, you’re busy. In fact, you’re probably more busy than I am because I don’t have children.

I have a book due February 2 and it’s overshadowing the Christmas season. But it’s not the deadline’s fault, it’s how I write. I fast draft a very ugly novel, then I rewrite. Almost from scratch. I layer and fine tune, change and deepen.

I write fast but nevertheless, it takes me awhile to think things through. To figure things out. To take the norm and turn it upside down, inside out.

Friday my husband and I are taking off for Tennessee to be with my family over Christmas. It’s going to be loud and wild but I cant wait.

But when I calculate how many pages I can rewrite and edit a day, and how many days until the deadline, adding in a visit from a friend and a short visit attached to a business trip, I come up a wee bit short. I can’t afford to take off the holiday!

But I’m going to anyway because despite how much I love writing and how much I am bound by honor to make my deadline, there are moments when “other things” are more important.

Ack, I know. From a writer’s perspective, what is more important? It’s taken me eight years to admit it’s okay to take a break for family, for a vacation or for other worthwhile causes like ministry or even lunch with friends.

But did you now the Lord gives to His beloved in seasons and times of rest? He does!

 

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house,

its builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat

for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord,

children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

The Lord impressed this verse upon me the other day. He proved His Word true by the fact that when I awoke from a brief nap, I had the perfect opening line for my rewrite!

Then a pastor friend talked at dinner the other night about “rest” and letting the Lord use him even in a season of rest.

It’s hard for most of us to step back and not do. We feel like it’s more holy and Christian. Or it’s the American way. We may even feel like we don’t know what to do with the rest and quiet.

Maybe we should learn to get used to it. God does want us to rest. He blesses rest. Especially when we rest in and on the Him.

I know that when we writers are not at our computers working, no one covers for us. If I don’t get my 20 pages done, a co-writer isn’t going to take up my slack.

But wait, if the Lord is my co-writer, maybe… just maybe… He will make up the difference. So I can enjoy time with my family over Christmas. My grandmother is 98, almost 99 and time with her is precious. She is worth setting aside a few days of writing.

So if you’re debating writing over Christmas, reconsider. At least for a day or two. Trust the Lord to take up the slack, give you words and story in your rest.

Now do what your therapist says… Enjoy Christmas!

JOY!!

***
Rachel Hauck, Write a book proposal

Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com.

Go forth and write!

***

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.
Go forth and write!

Conversations: Editing and Wordsmithing your novel!

Sally sat down at the table, handing me a Christmas tin.  “Merry Christmas.”

I opened it.  Inside lay petite, decorated Gingerbread men and women, their faces, aprons and overalls intricately decorated. “Wow.”

“It’s my one Christmas claim to fame.  I sell them at the annual craft show.”

They looked too good to eat.  “You put me to shame. My talents end with chocolate chip cookies. Although, my children love them.”  I put the lid on the tin.  “You know, your cookie prowess is not unlike finding your voice, or wordsmithing your story. Which is the final step in editing your manuscript before you move to proofing.”

“I am nearly finished all my scene by scene edits.”

“Then you’re ready to make your story sing. It’s in the wordsmithing phase where an author’s voice really emerges…it’s in the delivery of the story on the page.  How do you groom your voice?  

First, you have to start with the Mechanics. Go through your grammar and hone your writing. Here’s a checklist:

1. Are there five senses in each scene?

2. Replace the adverbs with strong verbs, the adjectives with defined nouns. Cut all “ly” ending adverbs if possible.

3. Be ruthless with passive sentences. ”Was” and “were” are good clues to a passive sentence. Although sometimes you need a passive sentence to let the reader rest, most of your sentences should be active.

4. Repeating sentences – If two sentences say virtually the same thing, cut one.

5. Two adjectives together weaken both. Use the strongest one.

6. Read through your dialogue – Do you need tags? Do you have enough action between words? Do you repeat names? Do you need to delete tags to make it faster? Is there enough white space between chunks of dialogue? Body language? Fighting words?

7. Do you have a list of overused words? Do a word search and fix/delete those!

Now comes the fun part.  Turn your page landscape view, “select all” and make two columns. Change to single space. See how it looks like a printed book? I like to change the type style to Garamond or Bookman to really get the feel of reading a novel.

Take two days and simply read your story, feeling the words, how they nuance the emotion, how they lay on the page.  Look for the story beats – have you rushed a sentence or paragraph?  Or, are you repeating words, sentences, paragraphs, concepts? 

Using a read pen, take your time and edit the hard copy. Change words around, add new sentences…you are reading the book for the emotional effect if has on the reader. 

 In the back of your mind, do a final story check: 

  • Scenes – Do your scenes pack a punch?  Do each of your scenes have a purpose? Do you need to make the slower scenes faster? Can you combine two slow scenes, cutting away the less important to the important?
  • Action – Are there sufficient reasons for everything your character does in that scene? Have you planted the clues for that action or decision long before they do it?
  • Likeable characters – Does your hero/heroine have great qualities that make you truly like them? Make sure that in each scene, there is something likeable about your character—that special spark that sets them apart.
  • Surprise – Is the disappointment worthy of your character? Is it plausible and unexpected?

 

Then I look at the art.  Do the sentences sing to you?  Can my characters be a bit more creative in their dialogue?  Have you used my nouns and verbs in a powerful way?  Have you woven in symbolism.  Do you like it?  

Then, I fix it, proof it…pray over it, and it’s ready for readers!

Remember – the difference between rearranging words and editing is that editing adds emotion, texture, precision and mood to a scene.  Always ask: How has your wordsmithing made your scene more powerful?”

“I can’t believe I’ve almost finished a book in a year.”

“Sally, I’m so proud of you.  I can’t wait to read your story.  Next week, I’ll give you some hints on how to sell it.”

“Next week is Christmas Eve. You’re not going to make we work on Christmas Eve are you?”

I opened the tin and took out a gingerbread man.  I smiled and bit off his head.

 

Four Gifts No Writer Can Do Without, Part 2: Passion

Let’s face it. Working at something you’re not passionate about is agonizing. Each moment you spend trudging through feels like you’re dragging a ball and chain. Most people abandon the pursuit out of self-preservation.

When you lack passion for something that you don’t enjoy, it’s not really so horrible. You can work around it. For example, I hate to do housework. I am more passionate about root canal than mopping floors. I dread it. But, I could hire a reliable maid to get that job done for me.

But what happens if you’re not passionate about what you love and feel called to do? What if you want to be a published author and you aren’t passionate about your writing? That’s a recipe for disaster.

Just like falling in and out of love, you can fall in and out of passion. It’s the passion that keeps the spark alive and the creative juices going. Without it, you’ll not want to sit down at the computer to write, and when you do, your words will be lackluster at best.

So what’s a writer to do? Ignite your passion. Give yourself the gift of passion. Not possible? Then why do you think we all packed into the gym on game day for a pep rally in high school? So we all could get passionate about the game.

Here’s why you should do the same thing:

Excitement for something creates positive emotional energy. The emotional protons create electricity that blasts through your thoughts, depositing “can do” beliefs throughout your mind. Your body automatically gears up to not only meet the challenge, but to win.

Passion builds confidence. Remember our gift from last week? Your passion in your writing gives yourself the gift of confidence. Merry Christmas!

Passion keeps you going. When you want to quit—umm, and we all do at times—passion will take you one more step. Then one more step. And another.

Passion attracts others. Don’t you really want to be around someone who really wholeheartedly loves what they do? Of course you do. If you are passionate about your writing or your story, others will want to be around you. They’ll want to purchase your book.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is passion. It’s totally in your control to have passion. No assembly required. Just pull it right out of your gift box, plug and play! Give yourself the gift of passion today.

When was the last time you really got excited about the story you’re writing? Share it here!

***

Reba J. Hoffman is a natural encourager and Member Care Coach at My Book Therapy. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is the founder of Magellan Life Coaching (www.magellanlifecoaching.com). She is the author of Dare to Dream, a Writer’s Journal published by My Book Therapy. She also publishes a motivational and encouraging blog, FindingTrue North. Contact Reba at reba@magellanlifecoaching.com.