Blog Twelve

Writing Tips-HELP!

You may feel alone without anyone to help you when first beginning to write. Putting your thoughts on paper can be frightening. While the thoughts are in your head, they are safe from view. No one else knows what you are thinking. Once declared in written words, however, they are no longer secret.

Oh, boy, now you’ve done it!

Relax, you are not the first person to have concerns about exposing thoughts in written form.

Think of your favorite author. More than likely, that person also had some uncomfortable feelings when beginning to write.

If you truly want to write, be brave and WRITE! As soon as you begin to do so, you are a writer. You do not need to have a work published in order to be considered a writer, you only need to believe in yourself and write.

Ok, you might be thinking. So I am a writer, but how to I become an accomplished writer? There are many places where you can receive help in improving your skills.

Let’s make a deal. You write about whatever you want until my next blog and I’ll see what suggestions I can come up with.

For now, I will remind you of the suggestion I mentioned in Blog Eight. Join a writers’ group. A good way to find one is to ask your local librarian. Another good way is to search on line.

Blog Eleven

Writing Tips- Grammar (Yup, It is Grammar Time)

Bet you knew it was coming eventually. Not to worry. You will do just fine because help is on the way.

I suggest you review Blog Ten. Much of what I wrote in Blog Ten about spelling also applies to grammar. I repeat, I suggest you review Blog ten.

There are two books I recommend on Grammar. The first one is If I Was You by Lauren Sussman, published by Adamsmedia. I discovered this book while I was browsing at my local book store.

The second one is The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White, published by Pearson. I often saw this book mentioned when I read articles on how to be a better writer. Because of that, I decided to buy this one as well and found it at my local book store too. I love going to book stores!

Whether you choose one of these books, both or another is entirely up to you.

Poor grammar, like poor spelling, should not keep you from writing. Just as you don’t need to know every word in the dictionary, you also so don’t need to memorize every grammatical rule. Use the books to guide you.

Don’t think you have to use fancy vocabulary or fancy sentences with umpteen complicated clauses. Keep it simple. Later on you can decide to get fancy if you want, but remember, fancy doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Blog Ten

Writing Tips-Spelling (Oh No, Not Spelling!)

Do not panick, oops, I mean panic if you are not a good speller. I read a quote many years ago that went something like this, “If a person spells well, he or she is probably intelligent, however, a poor speller can be just as intelligent.” The writer went on to say being a good speller has more to do with having a good memory than having high intelligence. Phew, thank heavens!

English words are frequently difficult to spell. Some of you might be thinking, “Wow, that’s an understatement!” One of the reasons for this is we often “borrow” words from other languages. When we try to spell the word by sounding it out using the rules for spelling in English, we can get ourselves into trouble.

How about those silent letters? Why is knife not spelled nife?

How about to and too and two? That is defiantly not fair!

Weather or not the whether is nice, we should go to the park. Or is it whether or not the weather is nice, we should go to the park?

Who did this to our language???

There are many tips for improving your spelling. I suggest looking them up on the internet or reading a book on this subject if you are interested. Spellcheck is helpful as is Siri on a Smart Phone. Be careful, however, neither one is correct all the time. While writing today’s blog, Spellcheck twice suggested a different spelling that would have been incorrect.

What is a person to do? I suggest you learn some helpful tips then stop worrying about your spelling. Notice I said stop worrying about it, NOT don’t do anything about it.

Unfortunately, we are often judged by our spelling. If you do not trust your own spelling to be correct, find help. Help may come in the form of a friend who does spell well or hire a professional editor. A writer serious about getting work published needs to be serious about correct spelling.

I try to be as careful as I can with my spelling when I write my blog. Sometimes, however, I write it when I don’t have anyone around to double-check my spelling and I want to publish it that day. I do my editing, pray I did a good job, and hope my fans will understand should an error slip by. If I were sending my work to a publisher, I would definitely hire an editor.

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Blog Nine -Writing Tips

Continue the Challenge

If you have been writing every day for at least thirty minutes since this challenge started in Blog Seven, wonderful!

If you haven’t, it is time to take a serious look at why not.

I had to take that serious look. Writing while on my recumbent bike works well for me unless I receive a phone call at that time, which I often do. When this happens, I need to find another time quickly before bedtime unless I have managed to write those precious thirty minutes earlier in the day. I may have fit some writing time in while having a pedicure or when treating myself to lunch between errands or when sitting in the dentist waiting room, etc.

I keep several pencils and smaller versions of the yellow legal tablet in my car for such times and type whatever I have written as soon as I can when I get home. The time I spend typing is also time I count as writing. Typing what I wrote by hand that day is a good way to proof read and make any necessary corrections.

When I don’t need to use the time on my recumbent bike for writing my daily thirty minutes, I can write more anyway if I am in the mood, or spend that time relaxing with a good book.

Blog Eight – Writing Tips

“Pesky Little Critters” and “What Ifs”

If you want to write, you probably will regardless of the obstacles that come your way.

More likely than not, there will be times when it seems no end is in sight to those pesky little critters who nibble at your self-confidence, swallow up precious hours you had scheduled for writing, and gobble up that idea you were sure you had no need to write down last night before falling asleep, because it was just too good to forget.

Been there, done that. Join the crowd.

The more I listen to other writers, the more I realize I am not the only writer who is confronted by the “What Ifs “.  The best advice I can give you concerning “The What Ifs” is to not worry about them. I will not tell you they are likely to never occur because many of them will. If they do, they do. When they come, handle them the best way you can.

You don’t necessarily have to face them alone, however. Having friends who are also writers can help tremendously. If you can find a writers’ group, help is often only an e-mail, text or phone call away.  If you join a writers’ group whose members are not helpful, quit and go elsewhere. I know I would not be as far along in my writing as I am, if not for the support of my writers’ group!

 

 

Blog Seven – Writing Tips

Challenge

I am asking you to challenge yourself to write every day for four weeks straight.  I took my own challenge in December to write for at least thirty minutes a day for the entire month.

I succeeded!!!  In case you are wondering if three exclamation marks are appropriate, yes, I feel they are. This was not an easy task, as you might be about to find out, but a well worth while one.

Not only did I write for at least thirty minutes a day, I often wrote longer and enjoyed doing so. Because of this challenge, the first draft of the sequel to Papa’s Stinky Workshop is nearly finished.

I am happy I was able to completely meet the challenge. I told myself, if I could not write each and every day, I would still give it my best shot.  Just because a challenge might not be fully met, does not mean the final result would be a failure. I would consider any number of writing days a success if my writing time increased.

Are you serious about your writing? Here is a way to prove it to yourself and probably improve your writing skills as well.

Blog Six – Writing Tips

With What to Write and Upon What

 

This is a quiz. The answers do not appear in this blog. If you want to know the answers, you can find them on line. The search is half the fun.

Which famous author/authors wrote using one or more of the following?

A blue crayon

An Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil

A typewriter while in bed

A pencil he invented himself

A quill pen filled with iron gall ink

A fountain pen from a collection of fountain pens

Pocket notebooks

Loose leaf paper

Blue paper

Yellow paper

School composition journals

Leather bound tabbed notebooks

Notebooks bound with quarter tanned sheep skin over boards sided with marble paper

 

In case you might be interested, for my first, and sometimes second draft, I write using an Icy mechanical pencil by Pentel with 0.5mm lead.

I prefer to use a legal pad with yellow paper since that color is easy on my eyes. I want the paper to have three holes by the red left hand margin and to also have a red left margin when I turn the torn out pages after I have put them into a binder.

My other drafts and my final copy are done on a computer.

So grab that blue crayon and yellow paper and write, write, write.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Five – Writing Tips

More on Where to Write

OK, let’s be honest, some of us have a vision of how a successful author’s writing space should look. That can make it difficult at times to begin to write. How does a wannabe author get beyond that?

If you have this problem, I suggest you go on line and look up “13 Quirky Workspaces of Famous Writers-Writer’s Digest”. Not only will you be entertained, you will also, hopefully, get the idea that, “Oh, it really doesn’t matter.”

Some famous authors have written while: standing, walking, lying down (on stomach, on back, or side) or sitting.

Some famous writers have written: in bed, in a storage room, in a car, on a bus, on a train, in a garden or bike shed, the bath tub, on a horse, and even in an open coffin.

Some famous writers have written: in secluded, private, off limit places away from noise and crowds or completely the opposite in preferring such public places as coffee shops, cafes, popular museums or busy hotel lobbies.

One of this “not yet so famous writer’s” favored places to write is on my recumbent exercise bike. My bike stays stationary, but my mind does not.

Take your pick. Choose a place. See how it works for you.

You might find THE PERFECT PLACE right away or have to settle for a less desirable one. Although the WHERE is important, it is not more important than the desire to write. So write!

 

 

Blog Four – Writing Tips

Finding a Place to Write

Don’t let the little things keep you from writing. Remember, they are little, but they can appear to grow larger and larger if not controlled. No, I am not writing about such things as ants, although you might not want to have them walking across your paper or keyboard as you are creating your masterpiece.

Then again, maybe I should mention ants and other such critters. Sometimes finding a place to write can be difficult. If your home is limited in space or there is frequently too much activity for you to have peace and quiet there, try working outside if convenient. Here in Tucson, Arizona that is often an option. Of course, along with the gentle breeze, or not so gentle breeze, there can also be bothersome and/or distracting critters and our glorious sun might not seem so glorious when the temperature reaches 100 degrees or above.

Oh my, I have already given you several reasons to not start writing.

If you look for reasons for not writing, you will find them.

Many authors love to work outside. If ants are bothersome, they find a way to avoid them and I am not writing about “nuking” the little guys. Such a simple solution as putting a small container filled with water under each leg of a plastic patio chair will do the trick. This also works for patio tables. If you have a pedestal table, you can use a child’s plastic wading pool and fill it with a few inches of water.

If you have trouble finding a place to write where you live, leave. Now there you go again. At least some of you are probably thinking, “See, I can’t write at this time. I’ll wait until I move to a bigger place or until the kids move out.” Have you thought about going to the library or to a coffee shop to write?

If you are a child, you should already have a quiet place where you can do your homework. If not, talk to your parents or other adults in your family who can help you set up a quiet area. Another option is listening to music to help you block out bothersome noises.

THINK! If you want to find a place to write, make it happen.