A Journey Worth Taking

 

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Diana Nyad is an American long-distance swimmer. In 2013, she became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage.

This was her fifth attempt to do so.

Did you know that Diana is also an author? Her book, Find A Way, has hundreds of insights into the life of this remarkable woman. Well worth reading.

In a recent interview she was asked how she kept pursuing her goal in the face of four defeats. She replied that she had always had the attitude that, “Even if we never make it, it’s still a journey worth taking.”

That’s how I view the writing journey.

Even if I never

sell a lot of books,

hit the best-seller’s list,

become particularly well-known,

I consider that the writing journey is definitely worth taking.

What about you?

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Who Can You Call On?

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Whether you are the newly-elected President of the United States or appointed as a group leader in a college class, you will find out early on that you cannot do it all by yourself. You need the advice of those who have certain areas of expertise.

Just like in your circle of friends you find that one is your main confidant, and another makes you laugh when you feel down, so a writer needs to be surrounded with a group of fellow authors which are especially good at certain aspects of writing.

I have a “go to” list which I have labeled “Details”, “Word Choice/Imagery”, “Backstory,” “Historian”, “Show-Don’t Tell”, and “Encouragement.” When I am stuck, I know exactly who to go to for advice.

They have my back.

And, you need a similar network, too.

These people may be local or accessed by phone or internet. They may be members of your critique group or not. But, they should be trustworthy, honest, possess quality writing skills, and willing to help.

And, don’t forget. They’ll need you, from time to time, too.

Think about those skills you will share with them and what positive impact you will have on the quality of their writing.

There are lots of helpful books on various aspects of writing. Most of us have dozens of them.

However, nothing beats the personal investment one can make in the life of a fellow writer.

 

Got GRIT?

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All writers need it.

Successful authors have it.

So, just what is “GRIT”?

According to best-selling author, Angela Duckworth, GRIT is “sustained perseverance and passion, especially for long-term goals.”

We are able to recognize it in ourselves and in fellow writers.

It’s determination to succeed.

It’s that fire in an author’s eyes when asked a question about writing or when a new idea for a book “pops” into their head.

It’s a lamp glowing on their desk at 2 A.M.

It’s that relentless scribbling of notes as the writer attends their umpteenth conference.

It’s that mesmerized look as a writer meets their favorite author in person for the very first time.

It’s hours, days, months, and even years of hard—and oftentimes—lonely work, punctuated with a willingness to forgo momentary pleasures in order to fulfill their dream.

It’s that smile on their face as they proudly display the cover of their new book for the camera while secretly planning the next one in their head.

Give Your Writing a Creative Eclipse

 

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“What is it that sets you on fire? What gets your creative juices going?”

I asked this question to a group of young writers at an elementary school last fall. Answers were all over the place, as you’d expect. Some said that watching an exciting video was inspiring. Others said reading a good book made them want to write, too. Still others mentioned vacations, friends, pets, and even an interesting lesson at school “pumped them up.”

I’m guessing that some of these very same things are invigorating for you, too.

Right now, the eclipse is on my mind. Due to television and the internet, many writers could write a decent non-fiction piece by tomorrow night.

What about a fictional story about what might happen to a family during the time leading up to and including the eclipse? How about a child who gets lost, cars traveling on freeways, people waiting in line at a bank or grocery store?

Will you be traveling on an airplane during the eclipse? Perhaps having a surgical procedure done? Climbing a mountain? Getting married?

Actually, the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

With a good old-fashioned shot of creativity, you could have a best seller.

In fact, a new and different “take” on any event can spark the interest of an avid reader.

To be successful, make it exciting. Write it in a fresh new way. See it from a different perspective. Give it a unique twist.

Let the eclipse shed a little light on your creative writing skills.

The Power of the Pen

 

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Jenny raised her head when I entered the room. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. “I didn’t know I was such a bad mother until I started reading this book,” she sobbed.

Even if what you write is considered “fiction,” words on paper can change the thinking, the hopes and dreams of your readers.

That pen in your hand, that keyboard your fingers rest on this very moment, are instruments that can be used to build up or tear down.

Your stories can bring laughter, they can encourage, and they can spark someone’s creativity.

Conversely, words can destroy, tear down, belittle, and instill fear.

We have an awesome responsibility when we write. We need to keep a fresh vision of our readers in front of us.

So, lately, instead of just continuing my story where I left of the day before, I’ve been conscious to say, “Reader, this one’s for you. Today, I am going to build you up. I am going to speak to your heart through my words.”

Just as an actor faces his audience when on stage, taking a moment before writing to acknowledge those who will read our words can give us an added measure of purpose, keep our writing more focused and serve to remind us just how important—just how very powerful—our words can be.

A Lasting Impression

 

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As promised, this week we will hash out the last of the information I’ve come across regarding the use of epilogues.

The consensus seems to be that an epilogue only be written if one’s story isn’t complete without it—if it adds value to the book that exists outside of the main story.

Remember what we said last week: an epilogue is like bumping into an old friend years later and catching up. It answers the question of just what they have been up to and can even “suggest” what things might be like in the future.

The decision of whether to write an epilogue—or not—comes down to deciding what lasting impression you want to leave on your reader.

It should give positive emotional impact. For instance, if the ending was less-than-happy, a positive epilogue could be used to reassure the reader that the character(s) do, indeed, end up all right…that the decisions they made were the correct ones, after all.

If you have a valid reason for keeping the information out of your last chapter, then by all means, go ahead and write it.

But, if the information in the epilogue is CRUCIAL to your story, you need to include it in the final chapter, instead.

 

The Epilogue Delimma

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Lately, it seems every book I read has an epilogue.

What’s up with that?

For a writer, what’s the reasoning behind writing an epilogue?

And, for the reader, what purpose does one serve?

And, finally, are they a hinderance, a help, or does it even matter?

I decided to do a little research.

I began with a working definition:

An epilogue is a section at the end of a book that serves as a comment on, or a conclusion to, what has happened after the end of the book— a wrap up of the story.

It seems there are five reasons to use an epilogue. They are: 

1) To Give Closure: Epilogues provide information about what happens later. Writers use them when they feel that writing these details in the story itself would weaken the climax of their book.

2) To provide information about how the story turns out especially if it is years later.

3) To summarize: If the character has been championing a certain point of view, the author can use the epilogue to drive the key points home.

4) To give resolution to ambitious endings.

5) To pique the reader’s interest in reading the next book in a series.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Have you used them yourself?

Next week, I will tackle other aspects of the EPILOGUE DELIMMA.