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.

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Care for a Goldfish?

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“I loved your book. I was up all night reading. I just couldn’t put it down!”

Comments like those are music to this author’s ears.

From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful that The Choice: Will’s Last Testament is getting such wonderful comments and reviews.

Such a warm reception gives me the energy to forge ahead and begin writing book #3!

It’s curious, isn’t it, what things give a human being the confidence to press on toward accomplishment?

A friend of mine is running a half-marathon in a few weeks. It’s something that she has never done before. It’s the challenge from another friend that pushes her to train each day.

I know someone who is trying to break an internet record for the most podcast interviews done in a certain length of time. It’s a lofty goal involving weeks of podcasts!

When teaching my daughter to drive a stick-shift, I remember finally resorting to popping a Goldfish cracker into her mouth each time she didn’t grind the gears!

So, the goal must be set.

But, there must be something that keeps the person moving toward that goal—a reward of some kind—that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow:

A record broken,

A pat-on-the-back,

A person’s name in lights,

Winning a contest,

Great five-star reviews.

So, dear writer, don’t bail on your dreams. Maybe, like me, all you really need is a little encouragement because

YOU CAN DO IT!!!  I KNOW YOU CAN!!!

 

Pseudonyms

What’s in a Name?  I asked myself this question not too long ago, reasoning that the name Brenda Poulos might not be so memorable. Maybe I’d need something shorter, flashier, similar to some other well-known person… I’d piggy-back off of their fame…

Some writers use pen names. I was curious to find out why, so I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found out:

1)   Most well-known authors write in a certain genre. They become known as a Suspense Writer, for example. Then, perhaps they want to add another genre to their writing repertoire. Publishers may not like this for several reasons. Same with their fans. So, they write in the “new” genre under a pen name.

2)  Some writers, I found out, start writing under a pen name when they are looking to switch publishers.  (The internet article cautioned against doing this. I can see all kinds of legal reasons why this wouldn’t be a good idea.)

3)  Writers, whose earlier work(s) may have bombed, might want to use a pen name when they publish something “new.”

4)  Pseudonyms are often used by authors who have names similar to someone else. (Hum, opposite of my earlier idea…)

5)  If a writer thinks his/her name doesn’t suit the genre, he might want to choose a pen name. This happened when Pearl Gray changed his name to Zane Gray to appear more like a western author.

6)  Women who write in a genre that is usually written in by men, often use their first initials and last name.  (For example, in westerns).

7)   Sometimes several authors write books together. They choose a fictitious  name, making their audience think the books are written by one person, when they actually are not.

8)   Sometimes writers want to protect their identity if they are writing in a genre in conflict with their main profession. For example, a surgeon who writes a murder mystery about a killer who dissects his victims. Yikes!

9)   Some of us are shy and just don’t want publicity. It’s possible to conceal one’s true identity by using a pseudonym.

10) Finally, if you want your name to be catchy and memorable, start making your list of possible pen names.

There you have it. Ten reasons to use a pseudonym—or not.

Do you currently use a pen name? I’d be interested in learning why you do so and if it has worked out well for you.

Brenda

Did you lose your voice, or just have a “scratchy throat”?

I woke with a scratchy throat. An hour or so later, that was followed by chills and a fever. My energy was zapped and my strength gone by the middle of the day. I called for a substitute and went home to bed at 1:00 p.m.

I remained at home for the next 48 hours, but felt better by the middle of the week. I decided to try to go back to work.  I was able to maintain control of the class (if you’ve ever been a classroom teacher, you know what I mean…kids can sniff out a teacher who doesn’t feel quite up to par…) until shortly before noon when the unthinkable happened: I lost my voice.

That was when I lost control. When no one is listening, the effect can be devastating.

What happens to us, as writers, when we lose our “voice”? After all, let’s be honest, our voice is our writing and if we lose that, well, how does that affect our performance? And, is it possible to regain our voice after a brief lapse in technique, or a period of time when our creativity lags? When we just don’t feel we are quite hitting the mark with our words?

I think there are days, in any profession, when we are just “off”. For whatever the reason— illness, distractions, catastrophic events, difficulties in our interpersonal relationships, even changes in the weather—we just don’t perform to our expectations. We become disappointed in ourselves. We may even feel that we’ve let others down.

May I suggest that it may not be realistic to expect ourselves to function at optimal levels every day—each time the door opens, each time the bell rings?

God grants us grace, so why not follow His example and extend a measure of the same to ourselves? Remind ourselves that it’s o.k.  That although we may strive for perfection, it’s just not realistic to expect it of ourselves in each and every circumstance.

Let’s tell ourselves that things WILL get better because, you know what? They WILL!

You WILL find your niche, again. You WILL discover more hidden talents. You WILL reconnect with those creative ideas!

The computer keys will once again be pounded by a person ignited by the next great thought. That article or book will be completed by someone who was gentle enough with themselves to allow for days when ideas germinated, rather that came easily onto the page… days when they thought they’d lost their voice, only to find out that it was just resting a little…until their heart healed, until the things of life settled down once more, until they learned a difficult life lesson, until they took a break in the middle of the afternoon and went home to bed.

Brenda