Thanks for Sharing Your Cookies

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I was reminded this morning about a story I’d heard before. Maybe you’ve heard it, too.

It is about a lady waiting at the gate for her plane to begin boarding. The man seated next to her reached over and took a cookie from her bag and ate it. She became more and more irritated at his brazenness as he kept helping himself to one cookie after another.

The lady, afraid he’d eat all of the cookies, began to eat some as well. When they both had eaten their fill—and only one cookie remained—the man broke it in half and gave the lady one half and kept the remaining half for himself.

Still harboring anger toward the stranger for just helping himself to her cookies, the lady boarded the plane. It wasn’t until later that she looked into her over-sized purse, embarrassed to see her bag of cookies inside, unopened.

Sharing should be such a simple thing.

Such a natural thing.

But, it really isn’t.

Authors, like those in other professions, have the potential to be competitive by nature. However, I have not found that to be the case.

Over the years, there have been countless occasions for writers to share what they know with others—conferences, blogs, podcasts, and so on. And each time, they share their expertise with seasoned writers as well as those just starting out. 

If you are one of those authors who have invested your time and expertise in others, I just want to say

“Thank you for sharing your cookies!”

 

Reach for the Moon

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From the dreaming to the writing to the publishing and marketing, there is far more to getting your book ready for the consumer than you probably ever imagined.

Think back to the day when the desire to write was born within you.

Now, remember the books you’ve read, the conferences you’ve attended, the podcasts you have watched, the associations you have joined.

Consider the people you have met along the way and their influence on you, the bookstores and libraries you have visited as your dream took shape.

The average reader probably has no idea how many hours you have spent writing, how many nights you stayed up late, how many early mornings you drug yourself out of bed to write while your family remained snug in their beds.

Someone once said that the harder you work for something, the sweeter the reward. 

That person must have been a writer.

The reward isn’t always monetary. Sometimes it is simply in a job well done… a knowing that you persevered… that you saw the task through to THE END.

Sometimes it’s a particularly meaningful review. Perhaps it’s a note of thanks from someone letting you know how your words impacted their life.

Don’t give up.

Keep on Truckin’.

Hang in There.

Because one day you’ll be doing that Happy Dance.

It will have all been worth it.

To Join or Not to Join

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Why join professional organizations? Isn’t it just a big waste of money?

It’s not money thrown away if you take advantage of all that memberships offer, such as:

Specialized training/education in the form of webinars, podcasts, tutorials, etc.

Conferences.

Networking opportunities, encouragement, relationship-building, friendships.

Discounts on products and materials

Leadership opportunities; Chances to “give back” to your profession.

Professionalism (just another way to show that you are serious about your profession).

Ways to showcase your abilities, achievements. Awards, recognition.

**Since this is tax season, let me include that the cost of association dues are often tax deductible. However, the membership must be ordinary and necessary and actually help you in your trade. If your reason for joining is only for pleasure or social purposes, the dues are not deductible.

Oh, Where Will You Go?

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In elementary school I was taught to separate various words/phrases from the rest of the sentence with commas. Now, my editor tells me that the world of computers—and especially texting, Twitter, and Facebook—have changed the rules. The less use of the comma, the better.

Authors need to stay up on all of the latest information in writing, publishing, and marketing.

One way to do that is by going to meetings of local writing chapters and to conferences. It’s time to plan which ones you would like attend (you can sandwich them between your family vacations and yearly physical exams).

If you are a Christian author, you may want to attend the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference. I try to go at least every three years, myself. Others I would recommend are: Glorietta Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, and Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Since these conferences can be expensive and require travel and hotel costs, you may want to begin your conference “experience” at local conferences. Here in Arizona, our local CWOW (Christian Writers of the West) conference, held each January, is always excellent and very affordable.

Other conferences, geared toward mainstream writers are: The Muse and the Market Place (Boston), ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Conference held in New York City, San Francisco’s Writer’s Conference, and Literary Writer’s Conference (New York City).

Expensive? Perhaps. But well worth it because of the added bonus of networking, opportunities for pitching, etc.

Now that you know, where will you go?

I’ve Changed My Mind

 

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After a meeting, yesterday, the topic of how often one should write (every day? how many hours per day?) came up.

I listened as inexperienced writers eagerly listened to more seasoned authors on the topic that is as dear—and as often-debated—as toilet training is to young parents.

In one of my previous posts, I said that if you are researching for your book or article, or attending a conference, or viewing a webinar, that “counts” as your writing for the day.

Well, like I told the others after the meeting, I now know a bit more about the craft of writing and have changed my mind about what I advised a year ago.

There is no substitute for WRITING.

Here’s why:

You cannot learn to dance by reading a book or studying diagrams of nimble feet doing the Cha Cha.

You cannot learn to fish without baiting your hook and casting the line into the water.

There is no substitute for actually DOING.

We need to practice writing. All the reading and conference going—although worthwhile—cannot take the place of good, old-fashioned application.

Some people find themselves in such an endless cycle of “learning how to write” that they never actually sit down in front of the computer and try their hand at it.

They think that if they will just read one more book or watch one more webinar, then they will be ready…qualified…fully prepared.

All of that is well and good, but as my neighbor’s son studies his driving manual, I am reminded that he must also get behind the wheel and gain the experience of actually driving.

As a child, I heard my mother say, “Wishing doesn’t make it so,” many times. (Mostly this was in reference to having a clean room.) But, apply it to writing an article or book and you can make the connection, can’t you?

So, my conclusion is this: you must learn the skill of writing by writing, writing, and writing some more.

Every day?

Yes.

An hour a day?

At least.

Grab a partner and dance.

Bait your hook and cast your line.

Back out of the garage and get out on the highway.

Turn on the computer and let your fingers fly across the keyboard!

IF…THEN

If you watch your gas gauge, then you will not run out of gas.

If you clean your plate, then you can have dessert.

If you listen in class, then you will learn.

It’s really simple, isn’t it?

If…then.

Writers can use the “if…then” principle, too.

If writers will learn the fundamentals of the craft, then the quality of their writing will improve.

If writers will dedicate time to reading, then they will learn much from published authors.

If writers will join a writing/critique group, then they will find encouragement from fellow writers.

If writers will schedule a block of time for writing every day, then they will become a more disciplined writer.

If writers will make a Thesaurus their best friend, then their writing will become more interesting.

If writers will attend a writing conference, then they will find increased opportunities to network.

If writers will pursue writing with their whole hearts, then one day they will find they have a tangible product:

an article

a journal

a book.

If…then.

If not now, then when?