I always loved to write. Whenever loved ones, friends or family members, were sad I created a poem trying to comfort them. Whenever my parents had heated arguments I wrote to encourage them to continue in their marriage. (Now and then, I shared my gratitude with them as well; I told them that I was proud of them for staying together when times were tough.)
Whenever and wherever there was an opportunity to write I got hold of it. I even started to write a novel called Meeting in the Strawberry Restaurant. How I thought of that title? I have no idea. I just remember that one of my friends really enjoyed following my story. During the preparation for my confirmation in the Lutheran church I read something about seal hunters, and I got very upset. I wrote an article about furs and seal hunting which appeared in the newsletter of our parish. A reader must have passed on my article to an animal protection organization because I received a lovely box full of tracts and little gifts along with an encouraging letter to keep up fighting against the cruelty to animals.
Things changed dramatically around the 8th grade when I started to hate writing. It happened during a time when the red correction symbols on my essays outweighed the blue ink of these marked papers. Ninety minutes were never enough for me to jot down my ideas, create a first draft, edit and rewrite it in ink. I lacked many of the skills of format writing, grammar, and spelling, and I didn't know how to catch up on the missed knowledge.
Later on in life I started to write again, but my love for writing was always suppressed out of fear that my work isn't up to the mark. The written words played against me. I just couldn't let go of them. I always felt an urge to correct the weak words, the wrong tenses, the misplaced punctuation right away. I just couldn't let the text flow, and so I got sidetracked thinking of all the mistakes that could happen while I'm writing.
Some of you might say, "This is what proofreaders and editors are for." I disagree, and so do many other Christian authors by the way. If we do not have the skills to write well we have to improve our English by taking courses and/or putting our noses into textbooks. Good authors never stop learning and reading to improve their writing skills.
I've made a few attempts to study grammar and writing skills. I tried to work my way through several English textbooks, but I kept running into the same problem. (I will share more on that in future posts.) It wasn't until recently that I discovered the books by Frode Jensen and gave them a try. The light came on, grammar started to make sense, and now I'm actually having fun learning it. What I needed was a course that would take months, not years, and would give me a good foundation to build on.
A few weeks ago my book project came to a full stop. I was upset especially since it made such great progress. “Why, LORD?” I asked. I just could not understand the meaning behind it all. Now it makes sense!
I love reading books about writing, and I like adding more to my collection every now and then. About a week ago I bought one called The Little Handbook to Perfecting the Art of Christian Writing.
Reading through the first few chapters of it I gained a realistic perspective on whether or not it is worth to write and publish a book these days. The authors share facts on the publishing business; and, yes, we should think of writing as a business. They mention the influence the media is having on book publishing and that it is important to get the word out. Also, we need to realize that:
Writing is a challenge and a process, and to develop diligence and skill is hard work.
Something else this book has given me is a fresh look into what a healthy relationship between author and editor should look like. I'm not a well-known and famous author. I wrote a few articles, a part of a chapter of a book, and translated some texts for a few publishers. Therefore my thoughts on working with editors are quite limited. Hence, reading this book gave me a much better perspective on what a editor and author friendship should look like.
Do you write? Are you working on a book, or are you writing articles, blog posts, or the like? Do you have a plan for writing? You should. It will make your writer's life so much easier.
1 Topic: What is the main idea? Can you state it in one sentence? If not, it might be too broad. Then you will need to narrow the topic.
2 Brainstorm: A Map to Follow Did you ever sit in front of your computer not knowing what to write? This will hardly happen to you if you have a map to follow. The map will consist of ideas which are related to the main topic. Organize the ideas into headings and subheadings and details. That is one way to create the Table of Contents which will be your guide through the writing process. No more blank pages. You will have your outline in front of you and know exactly what to write about each day.
3 Estimate: Words & Time First, ask yourself how long the article, book, blog post will be. Then, ask yourself how many words you can write within an hour. Divide the word count by the words you can accomplish within an hour. That will give you an idea of how many hours you will need to finish your text. Don't underestimate possible delays. In fact, expect them to happen. You might be able to write 750 or 1000 words per hour, but can you accomplish that many words within an hour when distractions are in your way? As for me, I like to count on no more than 300-500 words per hour. I know that doesn't sound like much, however, this will enable me to write at a comfortable speed. I don't have to worry too much when things are not working according to plan.
4 To-Do-Lists Before you begin to write make research lists (online searches, articles and books to read, places to visit, and questions to ask). Create a table to fill in details of articles, audio files, books, web addresses, etc. for the bibliography of your book. These lists will help you stay focused on your tasks. That way, when you sit at the computer and write you will not get distracted by doing research. Keep the list/s on your desk and make note of what research/es need to be done.
5 Schedule Your Writing This is so important. I can't emphasize this enough. There is a time for everything under the sun. There is a time for writing. Create a weekly planner and set aside a block of time for writing. Guard the time to write. Withdraw to a quiet place. Avoid any distractions. Work according to your plan.
Does God's Word tell us more about animals and our relationship to them? It surely does! It is amazing what God will reveal to us when we take the time to study the Bible for ourselves.
While writing part one, the foundation of my book, I have discovered verses in the Bible that talk about where dogs come from, how we should think about ownership, and the importance of how to treat animals.
I'm currently working on part two which will talk more about the practical aspects of dog training. In part three I intend to give advice on what to do when things have gone wrong. There is hope! Even an old dog can learn new tricks.
I'm excited to go on studying and researching more about dog training in the coming weeks and by God's grace I would love to have this project finished in October of this year.
As a writer, published or not, what project/s are you currently working on? What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
Remember that I have told you about Writing On a New Computer? I'm not using it as much for writing as I had planned to.
What's wrong with it? Nothing. You see, it's the way I have been using it lately. I'm spending far too much time online. Within a matter of minutes I'll get side-tracked. It's just so convenient not having to go through the effort of pulling the internet cable all the way to my (old) computer. Just one simple click and the Mac Mini's Wifi is on. Then, off I go, searching the world wide web. The online dictionary and thesaurus website is great for looking up specific words. At another address I type in a German word, click on the search button, and the English word is provided in an instant. I find answers in no time at all online – alongside with quickly reading the email that just popped in, tracking the parcel that is out for delivery today, and checking the status of an order I had placed last week. Later on, though, I'll regret that I have not accomplish as much writing as I would have liked to that day.
No, my new computer isn't the problem. It's not the internet's fault either. The Mac and the world wide web are neither good nor bad. It's how I'm using them. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate my Mac Mini very much. It's a great little piece of technology. And, I'm still going online to do research and/or to check emails and orders, of course. But when it comes to writing, I like to keep that pure and distraction-free.
I'm a helpmeet, homemaker and writer. I was born and raised in Germany but I'm now living in the stunning Sunny South East of Ireland.