This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We Members talk about our fears, insecurities, dreams and failures and our inspirations. We encourage each other.
It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! We post the first Wednesday of every month. Our purpose is to share and encourage. I hope my post does just that.
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions often offer advice or insight through personal experience. This month the question is:
How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?
An interesting question. Sometimes I don’t think I’ve evolved at all and at other times, I’m amazed at what I’ve accomplished. Oh, certainly no best sellers—only one real novel (for Harlequin) with a scattering of poems, short stories, articles and novellas.
When I look back at my life I see the steps I took that got me to where I am today: Content and able to help/mentor others.
Here’s my path:
I began by reading the trade magazines. I checked them out at the library and read every word from cover to cover—even the classified ads. Today, we have wonderful writing blogs that educate and inform us.
I’m a firm believer in writing or trying to write a number of different things. How else do you learn what you’re good at or what you might truly love? Of course, you might be like me and love it all.
I’ve often said writing short is a lesson to learn well because it teaches us to make every word count. Even today I search magazines for opportunities to write fillers, jokes, and short, short personal stories. I love chasing the markets. It often pays off.
I never have passed up free magazines in restaurants and book stores. We come home from vacation with loads of paper. You never know when you might come across an opportunity.
I’m a big believer in networking. In junior college, my journalism teacher’s son was an editor for a cheerleading magazine. I sold him my very first article. Of course, he rewrote the whole thing but I got paid and that’s how I learned what editors do. At work, I learned that my boss had a brother who was editor of an inflight magazine. I was hired to do a few articles for him. And got paid. My title was “contributing editor’ and I thought I’d “arrived.”
I hadn’t arrived so I quit my job and went back to college to major in English and Journalism. I was cut down to size by a frustrated journalism teacher, but I was encouraged to try my hand at a novel by an English professor. That encouragement rings in my ears today!
Part of evolving is knowing where we want to go, but not being afraid to take detours. And not being afraid to fail.
Because I needed other writers, I started a writer’s group. We met monthly, reading and critiquing each other’s work, and often caravanning to conferences. A good support group is priceless.
Back then, I didn’t believe in self-publishing and I preached against it to everyone. Today, self-publishing, indie-publishing, small presses—are there for us all. I still say don’t put all your “words” into one basket. Don’t write off traditional publishing because you can make more money doing it yourself. Spread your talent. Spielberg might amble through B&N and catch a glimpse of your traditionally pubbed book, pick it up and …. Stranger things have happened.
And don’t think you’re wasting your time by writing flash fiction for a contest or an article for FREE. It all counts. It all matters in your writing journey.
Don’t be afraid! I can do anything I put my mind to and you can too. I’ve spoken at conferences, judged contests, mentored new writers, interviewed best-selling authors, been editor of a national newsletter and president of two writers’ groups. These are things I never imagined I would do.
There has never been a better time to write and publish. I look back at all the times I felt discouraged and wanted to quit—did quit—and I can honestly say, DON’T. You lose ground. Writing and publishing changes daily. Hang in there, struggle through, and change with it. At some point, it will change to your advantage. I can promise you that!
How has my creativity in life evolved since I began writing?
I’m glad you asked.
Last year I wrote a play and saw it performed on my church’s stage. I’ve never written a play.
I have arrived!
Today is IWSG Day because it’s the first Wednesday in July. IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can follow other IWSG members here or on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a Facebook page. The purpose of IWSG is to share and encourage, but we’ve added a little zest to the mix. Now, IWSG members are going to answer a question in our post. Today’s question is:
What’s the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
This is a difficult question for me to answer because I don’t usually share my writing. The compliments I do get come in the form of a review or from a contest judge. When friends read my books and stories, of course, they’ll compliment me. They’re my friends!
Maybe this sort of thing comes from being involved in a good, close writer’s group. You think?
Back in the 70s I wanted to be part of a writer’s group but my hometown didn’t have one. What did I do? Well, I started one, of course. The East Texas Writers Association is still going strong today. The group was fun back in my day. We didn’t have the Internet so we depended on The Writer, Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Market, as well as guest speakers to keep us informed. Also, other writer’s groups. Our members often piled in a car and headed straight down Interstate 20 to Shreveport—about an hour away to visit the Shreveport Writers Club. They judged our contests, critiqued us—encouraged us in every way.
Today, online groups are fantastic. With the Internet, we have instant encouragement with the click of a button—but there’s nothing like a face-to-face group—if it’s a good one.
Here are 6 things you should be getting from your face-to-face writer’s group:
- Resources and Opportunities
- Information relating to the ever-changing market
- Access to critiques if you want/need them
- Warnings about writing/agenting/publishing scams
- Friendship and Fellowship
I went to our local writer’s group here in Lake Charles last Saturday. I learned four things:
- That a new writer has moved to the area—a professional who writes for a couple of the top Christian publishers. I’m excited and hope we can get to know each other.
- That we have some talented writers in the group but I don’t know if there’s a market for what they write. I wonder, with self-publishing booming, is that even a factor anymore?
- That nothing stays the same: the logo, the newsletter title, the bylaws–there’s always someone eager for change. Even the members come and go!
- That J.C. Penny’s was having a great shoe sale, and I hit it big time!
If you have a writer’s group in your town, are you a member? What do you learn from the meetings? Share some details, please.
Since this is the 5th day of our A to Z Challenge and IWSG Day, I hope it’s okay that my blog post serves two purposes: It does have to do with Encouragement which is the premise behind IWSG. So here we go …
Back in 2008 I submitted a couple of devotionals to an anthology called Daily Devotions for Writers. I thought I’d reprint one here because there’s a lesson to be learned from the experience I wrote about. If any of you have the book, the devo is on page 177.
“My assignment was to interview women in Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization that helps develop public speaking and leadership skills. I’d pitched the idea to my editor with an ulterior motive. I wanted to learn for myself what Toastmasters was all about—with no commitment to stand up and speak.
While I talked with several ladies in the club, the president listened. Finally, he spoke. “Would you be interested in helping me start a commercial writer’s program through the continuing education department at my college?”
I immediately lapsed into I’m-not-smart-enough-I-know-nothing-you-can find-someone-better-than-me mode. The expression that crossed his face sickened me. Because I had such little confidence in myself, his opinion of me changed in a split second.
While writing the article, I read and reread how Toastmasters helped each woman gain confidence, and how that confidence had spilled over into her personal and professional life. I visited another meeting to take copies of the published article. When the club president asked me again to help create a commercial writing program at his college, I accepted with confidence.”
Dear Lord, thank you for being a God of second chances. Help me remember that you are my courage.
You can do anything you set your mind to—though I don’t recommend surgery if you aren’t a doctor. Seriously, we have so many learning tools at our fingertips—just Google or go to YouTube. Ask friends in your writing groups. If you don’t know how to interview, then watch some podcasts or C-Span. Can’t write an article? Read and dissect some. There are also online writing classes–some of them FREE. There’s always a way to learn…how to paint, how to knit, how to speak.
(A few weeks ago I watched a Youtube video on spray paint art. Fascinating, and who knows how I’ll use this new found knowledge!)
I encourage you to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. That’s how you learn, and it pays off in the long run. I started the writing program with the college: it consisted of nothing more than determining what I thought new writers would like to learn, finding other writers with the expertise to teach it and scheduling. I met some fine writers, had a lot of fun and taught my first online classes. I learned a lot too, but, if I had stuck with my pitiful I-can’t- attitude— I might still be an insecure whiney Jessy today.
So, tell me, are you going to do it? Take a step of faith and say YES to all those opportunities that come your way? I want to hear about it! And if I can help… holler at me!
Today is IWSG day because it’s the first Wednesday of the month. IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Our purpose is to share and encourage. You can follow other IWSG members here or on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a Facebook page.
Monday I blogged about my trek to Marshall, Texas, to attend the ETBU Conference. If you’re interested you can backtrack and read Part I but each post stands alone—as they say in the world of series writing.
When I registered for the conference, I signed up for an appointment with one of my favorite guys in the entire realm of Christian writing and publishing. Yes, you guessed it—Cecil Murphey. Cec is author of a whole slew of books but two you might recognize are Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story, and 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life.
I’d never met Cec but I’ve read his blog and I’m on a couple writing loops with him. I’ve emailed him with questions through the years, and he’s always been generous with answers. I think that’s unusual. There are other authors I’ve emailed with questions who say they don’t have time or that they’ll get back with me, and never do.
My appointment with Cec was at ten o’clock sharp on Saturday morning, and my session with Caleb Pirtle III (The Magic of Storytelling) ended at exactly ten 0’clock. One of my pet peeves is people coming and going during writing sessions; it’s disruptive. So what did I do? Well, uh, I skipped my appointment. Crazy, huh? It surprised me too, but you know, face to face Cec might not be as kind as online Cec. (Yes, that actually crossed my mind. Insecurity is an ugly thing!)
I felt so guilty. I visualized Cec sitting there waiting, looking at his watch, wondering why I didn’t show.
In my next session, all of a sudden I got a text message from Elizabeth Hoyer who handled the conference paperwork: “Jessica, Cecil Murphey is trying to get in touch with you.”
Whaaaat? Never in all my days have I had an appointment track me down. Not that I miss a lot of appointments—actually not any, but I’d bet good money all those agents and editors I’ve met with over the years wouldn’t have missed me, much less tracked me down. I texted Elizabeth back, apologized, and told her I’d be in Cec’s 2:45 session and not to worry about the appointment. In her next text she gave me his cell phone number. He wanted me to call him.
Call Cecil Murphey—THE Cecil Murphey—on the phone?
I didn’t call. I texted Elizabeth: “It’s not necessary to put himself out. Sorry for the trouble.”
Elizabeth responded: “No, it’s fine. He gave me his number for you, he has appointments before and after his class so you can set up another time to meet.”
I still didn’t call Cec, but I texted him and we set up an appointment for 2:30–EXACTLY when my session with Kristen Clark (How to Write and Publish Your Inspirational Short Story) was supposed to begin.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. Sometimes my elevator stops between floors. Here I was at a conference especially to meet Cecil Murphey, but I seemed to be running from him. Was it nerves? What was going on with me?
Hubby went to Kristen’s workshop and promised to take good notes and save me a seat. I had no idea how long my appointment with Cec would be–probably no longer than five or ten minutes. I trekked off to find him.
The moment our eyes met–haha–actually, the moment he read my name-tag, he apologized for the mix-up. Mix-up? You’ll be proud to know I took full responsibility and confessed to standing him up.
We walked outside, the sun peeked from behind the clouds. No, really, it did. It had rained all night and part of the morning. Sitting on a bench in the sun, we talked. And talked. And talked. For thirty minutes!
He told me I was the only one of his appointments that didn’t send him something to critique. I told him I just wanted to meet him, to thank him, to tell him how much he’d meant to me over the years. That he would take the time to answer questions in detail from someone he didn’t know … He’d been a mentor—and didn’t know it.
We talked about everything from writing to praying. He advised me on some things I had questions about and shared some of his writing plans. That thirty minutes was worth the price of the entire conference–doubled!
Have you ever read someone’s book, their blog and just known deep down in your gut that you have a connection with that person? That you share something? That’s the way I’ve always felt about Cecil Murphey. And after meeting him, I thank God he was exactly as I’ve always imagined.
On Friday, I’ll tell you about my last three sessions at the ETBU Conference.
Today is IWSG Day because it’s the first Wednesday in August. IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can follow other IWSG members here or on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a Facebook page. The purpose of IWSG is to share and encourage, so today I plan to encourage.
I want you to take a look at what you’ve accomplished since our last IWSG day. Maybe you should jot a few notes to organize your thoughts. Accomplished a lot? Great! But what about all of you who have done nothing because of vacations, kids being home, sickness or surgeries? Don’t feel bad. Life gets in the way sometimes, but honestly, we shouldn’t let life get in the way ALL the time.
Ask yourself this question:
What do you truly want to achieve with your writing? Be realistic when you answer. Being a best selling writer is a realistic goal for someone who writes daily, wins contests and is actively studying and learning, but being published by one of the top five might not be realistic for someone who only writes a few times every few months, never enters or wins a contest and doesn’t revise according to critiques or feedback. We always need to learn and grow.
I’d like to suggest a writing/learning plan for those of you who aren’t accomplishing anything.
Settle on one goal. You might want to finish your novel. When you reach the end, go through it again, do a little tweaking, then find beta readers or someone willing to critique. You can revise according to those comments you get from your readers. Oh, wait… you don’t agree with any thing they said? Then Houston, we might have a problem. Put your pages away for a few weeks or even better, a few months while you delve into a really good how-to book. When you go back to your critiques, I’m certain you’ll view them differently.
Or, your goal might be to write a few short pieces and get them out there. That’s great: Identify your markets–print magazines or online literary journals. Study them by reading several months of back issues, including their guidelines. Then write. Find someone to read and give you a critique. Believe me when I say feedback is helpful. Revise accordingly.
I know I’ve said this to you a thousand times: making up our mind to do something is half the battle. We can be our own worst enemy or we can be our hero. We just need to decide on what we want to accomplish and let nothing or no one stand in our way as we plod toward our dream.
Here’s an interesting quote from Natalie Goldberg. Take it to heart.
This is your life. You are responsible for it.
You will not live forever. Don’t wait.
~ Natalie Goldberg
On another note, I’m speaking at the Texas Gulf Coast Mini-Conference on Saturday. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: http://www.texasgulfcoastwriters.blogspot.com/
Also, my novella, The Last Daughter, is only 99 cents. If you haven’t read it, I’d love for you to grab a copy and then leave an honest review.
Don’t you just love IWSG Day? It comes around the first Wednesday of each month and we get to visit hundreds of blogs that are filled with encouragement. IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you’re interested follow other IWSG members here or on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a Facebook page. Hey, we even have a tee shirt!
What have you accomplished since our last IWSG posting? You know, don’t you, that if you actually write down your goals, you’ll come near achieving them. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’m a list maker so I’ve always written down goals, right along with my grocery list and things to do. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t look at my list.
I’ve accomplished a few things during the past few weeks. I’ve always wanted to write a series of books about friends. A few weeks ago, I started my series. Every morning I crawl out of bed, grab my coffee and go into my office to write. I’ve finished rough drafts of Book 1, Book 2 and tomorrow I start Book 3. My intention is to write three 15,000 word stories and wrap up the series with a 30,000 word novella. My four friends will show up in each stand-alone story.
I’m pretty excited about this series, but even more excited that I’ve been able to keep my momentum and write. I hope I’m not disappointed when I go back through and read these rough drafts. A couple of times I’ve sat for a moment or two, wondering what was supposed to happen next, but as real writers do… I just opened a vein. Okay, I’m kidding. I opened my heart. I love my characters. Their problems are real. I’m doing the Camp NaNoWriMo thing too–trying to hang on to that momentum.
Another thing I’m excited about is that I’ll be speaking at the Texas Gulf Coast Writers mini-conference in August. More about that later.
What are you working on? What have you accomplished since last month’s IWSG day? We need to get busy and catch our dreams. Let me hear how you’re catching yours.
I look forward to the first Wednesday of each month because it’s IWSG day. The purpose of IWSG is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! (And that would be ME!) IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of members. You can be one too. You can follow other IWSG members or meet them on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a thriving Facebook page. Look us over. I think you’ll like us!
And speaking of offering assistance and guidance … I’d like to share a book with you that’s helping me plot a new story. This author is one of my favorites. And she was my editor for The Last Daughter.
Award winning author and editor, Alicia Dean, shares her process of creating a story, along with bonus tips in her how to book, Find The Magic – How to Plot a Story in 10 Easy Steps. Through November 15th, it’s on sale for only 99 cents. I finished reading Find the Magic last week. What I liked best about the book was Alicia’s honest voice. She made me trust her from page one. But why wouldn’t I? I know that she knows what she’s doing when it comes to writing, editing, critiquing and plotting.
Using specific examples from one of her own novels, Without Mercy (also 99 cents), Alicia shares how to plot a book and expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you.
Find the Magic might hold the answers you need.
In addition to being an author of more than twenty published works, Alicia Dean is both a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, under the name, Ally Robertson, in their suspense line. I highly recommend you get too know Alicia through her books, or social media.
Alicia/Ally is one of the good guys and she knows what writing, publishing and marketing is all about.
Website: http://aliciadean.com/ Blog: http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008364070487 Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alicia_Dean_ Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aliciamdean/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468339.Alicia_Dean
Today is the one year anniversary of the IWSG website and their Facebook group. To celebrate, the IWSG Admins are putting together an anthology, The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond. From my understanding it will be a FREE help book. I’m sure this book will be fantastic; I’ll keep you informed.
I’m writing a short post to encourage you, though I wonder if you really need encouragement. Sometimes I think I’m the only writer in the world who isn’t writing. And it would be so simple to sit down, push everything and everyone out of my mind and write two pages a day. Two lousy pages. No one says they have to be good… they just have to BE. Except I can’t get my mind in the right place.
I got an email from a friend the other day sharing news that an essay he wrote was published in an anthology. He thanked me for being an inspiration to him, for sharing info, offering advice and suggestions and in general, just encouraging him. He doesn’t know how much his words mean to me. On that day, I needed encouragement too and his words offered it. They may not have seemed very important to him, but they told me I’m still on the right track with what I love, what I do and how I do it.
You know, this is what IWSG is all about. Encouraging each other. Don’t you love it?
I want to encourage everyone who reads this to let those people who inspire you or help you in any way know how much you appreciate them. We’re writers and writing notes of appreciation should be important to us. Besides, ignoring those who help us is almost akin to burning a bridge.
I told my friend, Stanley Klemetson, I’d mention the book here. It’s a little pricey, but if you’re interested, ask your library to get it and be sure to read Stan’s essay, Following Dreams Put on Hold. Here’s the press release. The anthology is called:
WRITING AFTER RETIREMENT
Tips for Successful Retired Writers
Writing after Retirement provides a variety of vantage points from published authors and paints a realistic portrayal of what it takes to get started in the industry. This book also includes preparation for the challenges that aspiring writers face, and practical guides for overcoming them.
A range of issues are addressed:
Linking one’s writing to current activities
The nuts and bolts of writing
Planning one’s estate
New career paths
Practical advice on how to take that first step
Whether writing for pleasure or for profit, the reader will find plenty to choose from in this collection.
Carol Smallwood co-edited Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching on the list of Best Books for Writers by Poets & Writers Magazine; Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing (2012); Lily’s Odyssey (2010). Her library experience includes school, public, academic, special libraries, teaching, administration, and consulting
Christine Redman-Waldeyer launched Adanna, a print journal for women and about women, in January 2011. Redman-Waldeyer is a poet and assistant professor in the Department of English at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey. She has published three poetry collections.
Today is IWSG day–the first Wednesday of each month. IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can follow other IWSG members here and on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG.
Our purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.
But unfortunately, I can’t think of one thing to say to you: not one word of encouragement or guidance–no words of wisdom whatsoever. I feel like a blackboard with smears of chalky white. All my ideas and plans have been erased leaving nothing but unidentifiable smudges behind. Ever felt that way?
Obviously, I’m in a funk. Maybe you have a word or two for me.