Want to be a Better Writer? Surround Yourself with Great Writers!

By Shawny Lou

So, you want to be a writer? Then, surround yourself with amazing writers!

There’s talent all around us and I’ve discovered that “artist types” tend to be each other’s best cheerleaders. I can’t adequately stress the importance of sharing your dreams with other Creatives, both up-and-coming and accomplished.

Recently, Mikie DeLong Pyle and I joined a small support group for creative Christians in our area. We’re always looking for opportunities to learn and grow as we collaborate on our story, “Unsung Lyrics”, and the Tehachapi Christian Arts Fellowship (TCAF) seemed like a great group to check out!

We linked up with them just two weeks ago, but we’re already hooked. Now, we proudly call ourselves TCAF members and have already gathered valuable tips and networking relationships from the team!

Lauraine2012bLauraine Snelling – Guest Speaker

This past Monday, we had the pleasure of meeting successful author, Lauraine Snelling. To date, she’s published over 75 books, so the woman knows what she’s doing!

Just sitting beside her as she spoke, I was inspired. It was as if her creative energy was emanating through my skin. Amazing!

The stories she shared and the tips she offered were golden and are too good to keep to myself!

We Can All Live Our Dream!

She started the discussion with a powerful and catchy line.

“I’m living the dream.”

Wow! It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our ho-hum “this isn’t want I wanted” lifestyles. When I heard her declare that she’s living her dream, I couldn’t help but realize that we’re all capable of doing just that!

God gave us our gifts for a purpose – so we can touch others through them. When we’re using our God-given gifts, we’ll be living our dream. That was His intention all along!

How to Live the Dream of a Writer

Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom Lauraine shared.

I’ll be keeping them tucked tightly to my heart, knowing they will open doors in my writing. I bet they can do the same for you, too!

God Has a Sense of Humor. You Should, Too!Smile

Lauraine said, “If [God] can teach us to laugh, He had to have known how first.”

She followed up with an affective example.

Early on, Lauraine vowed never to write Historicals. She didn’t have an interest in them and, thus, didn’t believe that was her calling.

But God had other things in mind. Shortly after her career got started, she was asked to write a Historical and, of course, wanting to continue being published, she reluctantly agreed.

I can imagine God, chuckling under His breath when Lauraine got that phone call, and telling the angels, “Watch this!”

It turns out, God knew what he was doing. Historicals have become some of Lauraine’s most successful works and now, she relishes the craft!

We’ve got to have a sense of humor on this journey!

“Let me give you a hint,” she concluded. “Don’t tell God ‘never.’ All he does is laugh.”

To Write Fiction, You Have to Love Two Things

Stories and Words

I’ll keep it at that. Short and sweet.

Have Alligator Hide and Bulldog Tenacity

Be prepared for feedback. It’s not always going to be what you want to hear, but listen! It will make you a better writer!

When Lauraine wrote her first manuscript, she took it to a Writer’s Conference and was thrilled when a successful writer offered a critique.

As they sat down, Lauraine watched the first three pages of her manuscript get covered in giant red “X’s”. She quickly determined that she’d been wasting her time, concluding that, if something she’d put that much of her heart into had been shredded so quickly, she obviously wasn’t cut out for this.

As she got up to exit the critique, the professional called to her, “I thought you wanted my help!”

Grudgingly, Lauraine turned around and dragged herself back for the beating.

To her amazement, the professional said, “This is going to be a great story.”

Wait! What??

Lauraine quickly realize not to mistake red “X’s” as a sign that you aren’t meant to write.

She reminds everybody to trust in God’s plan for our lives. “If God has put you in the middle of this, He’s not going to let you drowned under someone else’s red ink.”

I’m considering getting that quote tattooed on my forearm!

Ball at workFollow the B.I.C. (Butt in Chair) Principle

Creatives are naturally wired to be whimsical. Our minds don’t like to be lassoed and our curiosity often overrides our awareness of deadlines.

But no matter how you cut it, you can’t be a successful writer if you don’t write! You’ve got to follow the B.I.C. principle or you’re doomed to fail!

If you aren’t buying into the B.I.C. principle, consider the B.O.B. (Butt on Ball) concept. Sit on an exercise ball while you work. It gives you the flexibility to bounce around a little and forces you to use your core muscles, so you’re actually exercising while you work!

I’ve got my Butt on the Ball right now! I feel so productive!

In short, force yourself to go against your tendency to flutter around. Surrender to the B.I.C. Principle or the B.O.B. concept and get to work!

 Three Questions to a Good Story

If you can answer these three questions, you’ve got a successful story on your hands!

  1. What do the characters want?
  2. Why do they want it?
  3. What’s going to get in their way?

Every writer needs to know their characters! Where do they came from? How do they dress? What was their childhood like?

If you know your characters, you’ll understand what they want and why. Then, you’ll be able to breathe them into existence. As you illustrate the way they live their lives, your readers will relate to them and the story will become personal for your audience.

Editing

This one’s hard for me. I think it’s probably a tough one for a lot of writers.

Don’t edit until the end of the book.

Ugh! Just writing that sentence made me shiver!

I’m a constant editor. I know it slows down my story but every time I re-read my work, I see countless opportunities to make it better.

We’re torturing ourselves and worse, hurting our stories, when we do that. Lauraine stressed that we must keep moving the story forward.

As painful as it will be, that’s my new goal, starting today.

(I’ll let you know how it goes!)

Oh! Speaking of editing, when it’s time, Lauraine highly recommends reading the story aloud (or having it read aloud to you.) That’s when, she says, you’ll discover your greatest opportunities to improve your creation!

Go Get Your Dreams!

Lauraine did it! We can do it, too!

“Unsung Lyrics” is my “God-project”. I know it’s from Him and I’ve felt His promptings as the story has evolved, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need a little help from some earthly friends!

If I want to be a better writer, I have to surround myself with other creative minds! And, thankfully, God has given me the opportunity to do that!

Find a support group in your area. If you’re not sure how, let me know. Mikie and I will do what we can to help seek them out!

Now, let’s dust off our excuses, indulge in our God-given gifts, and go live the dream!

TCAF Members with Guest Speaker, Lauraine Snelling Back row from left: Andrew Hansen, Ron Gaiser, Dorothy McReynolds, Brian Smith Front:  Mikie DeLong Pyle, Shawny Lou Miller, LAURAINE SNELLING, Renee Hajj, Heather Simmons, Mike Sanders. Not pictured: Our group leader, William Kritlow

TCAF MEMBERS WITH LAURAINE SNELLING
Back row from left:
Mikie DeLong Pyle, Andrew Hansen, Ron Gaiser, Dorothy McReynolds, Brian Smith
Front: Shawny Lou Miller, LAURAINE SNELLING, Renee Hajj, Heather Simmons, Mike Sanders.
Not pictured: Group leader, William Kritlow

 

 
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