Finding Why You Write

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is begin. And the next hardest thing to do is begin again. I took three months off of blogging, and I had a lot of time to ponder reasons why I should start again or not.

Life makes it harder.

We get weary.
We get busy.
We get distracted.
We get discouraged.
We compare.
We believe lies.
We doubt ourselves.

I came up with a million excuses why I cannot, should not, or will not. Yet, I knew I was not supposed to quit. God made it clear, and it really was not open for discussion. I had to begin again.

Beginning again is hard when you think you have failed. It is hard when you do not think it is worth it, because you are not seeing the results you expected. It is hard when the results you get are not in proportion to the effort applied.

It costs too much to mean nothing.

finding-why-you-write

Beginning again is hard when you do not really know why you are doing it to begin with. The reasons we begin are not always the same reasons we keep going. Sometimes our “why” gets redefined along the way.

It changes. We change.

We learn. We experience. We grow

What motivates us changes.

I became clouded with self ambition. My desires had to be refined, yet my purpose remained the same. The purpose is the same for those who call themselves followers of Christ

If we strip the “why” down to the simplest form, its simplest is its most powerful…

“He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 19-20 NIV)

God has a message He wants to get to those who are His, and those who are yet to be. He has put His message inside of you, and how you bring it as unique as every fingerprint.

We are all different, yet we have a common thread in all our tapestries.

“We are stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NKJV

How might you be found faithful? Obey.

How might those mysteries be revealed through your words? Many ways.

They may come from you in a way that makes us laugh, or be contemplative and introspective. They may help us organize our lives, or help find our purpose. Your words may causes us to think or expand our thinking. Or they may challenges us, and aid us in being better selves — to love well, to serve more, to be who we were created to be.

Your stories and imagery may stir our imagination, and help us see grace and beauty in places we might not have looked. Or perhaps break our hearts open wide in conviction for our sin or compassion for those in need. You may write truth that brings freedom, opens blind eyes, and helps us live our lives as praise to God.

No matter what form it comes, the reason we write is the same — to make God’s love known.

“His love has the first and last word in everything we do…Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 MSG)

It is why we write. It is why Christ died. It is why we live.

 

Michele-Lyn

Michele-Lyn Ault lives in happy chaos with her family on the outskirts of Orlando on 30 acres of Florida country. She is a wife and homeschool mama of four. Michele-Lyn pours out her heart in words, at times courageously afraid, on backlit screen and sometimes her soul bleeds a little as she writes on her blog, A Life Surrendered.

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12 Editing Tips for Writers

Editing Tips
When it comes to writing and feedback, I’m always reminded of my grandma’s words: When yer eatin’ fried chicken, swallow dat meat and spit out them bones.

My grandma’s advice speaks to the truth of editing tips too. Swallow the meat and spit out the bones.

The following are twelve editing tips for writers. If any of these suggestions ring true, then great. But if any of the following suggestions don’t resonate with you, I believe you know what’s best for your process and your style. Pick and choose the approach that works best for you.

Writers are at their best when they’re trusting their instincts. <Tweet this!>

These twelve editing tips discuss when, where, and how to edit:

1. Begin the editing process with rest.

Once you’ve finished your writing project, put it away for a few days — or longer if possible. Don’t look at it. Go outside. Hang out with friends. Watch a football game. Engage your mind on something else. Then, when you return to the words on the page, you’re able to see your work with fresh eyes.

2. Schedule a time for editing.

Put it on your calendar. And enlist the support of those nearest you. When family and friends know we’re nearing the end of a writing project, it helps to have their support. This, of course, pertains to lengthier works. If it’s a shorter work, like a blog post, simply set aside a separate time to review it before publishing.

3. Sit in a location other than where you write.

This may not seem like a big deal, but editing is a different activity than writing. When we edit in a location that’s different than where we normally write, we’re alerting our subconscious to prepare for a different kind of mental endeavor.

4. Edit from a hard copy.

Yes, this requires the use of paper, but it’s more effective. When we read on a computer screen, our eyes are accustomed to scrolling quickly through the text. With a hard copy, each section is contained on a separate piece of paper. This helps us slow down and focus. We’re also less likely to tinker endlessly with cutting, pasting, and rearranging. We can write our editing notes in the margin and move on. We can recycle the paper when we’re finished.

5. Use a colored pen — preferably red.

English teachers are notorious for bleeding on essays with scathing red ink. In fact, some educators have suggested that red ink shouts at the reader, similar to the use of ALL CAPS. So I’ve tried editing in every color possible, and I’ve discovered that blue, purple, and brown ink pens don’t contrast enough with the black toner on the page. It’s easy to skip an editing comment when it’s so close in shade to the black toner. At the same time, most orange, pink, yellow, and green ink pens are too light. The eyes are forced to squint while deciphering the individual letters.

Red ink isn’t about shouting. It’s about contrast. Our eyes don’t have to strain as much to discern the red ink from the black toner.

6. Develop your own coding system.

Whether it’s a word that needs omitting or a letter that needs capitalizing, English teachers use a canonized set of symbols to indicate the specific change required in the text. But the actual symbols don’t matter as much as the meaning behind them. As long as you know what you mean when you mark your page, you can use whatever coding system you like.

7. Read your work aloud.

The importance of reading your work aloud cannot be stressed enough. This is one of the best techniques for catching your own errors. When you read aloud, mark every place where you stumble over the words. If you have to stop reading to figure out what you’re saying, then you can be sure your readers will too.

8. Read with a ruler under each line.

This may feel awkward at first. But we already know what comes next because we wrote it. Using a ruler helps us slow down and concentrate on one line at a time.

9. Read backward.

Again, this technique may feel weird. But if we read one sentence at a time, starting at the end and working our way backward, then we’re less likely to “hear” the content, and we can focus on the form.

10. Read a section at random.

Another way to pull ourselves out of the content is to randomly select a paragraph and examine the form. I’ve caught more typos and minor mistakes this way.

11. Focus on one editing technique at a time.

Either read with a ruler or read backward or read a random section. But don’t try to do all three in one sitting. Pick and choose. And spread it out.

12. Take planned breaks.

I prefer to work in long stretches of focused time, but after a few hours, my brain is tired, and I’m ready to stop editing for the day. So I’ve learned that I can prolong my productivity if I schedule intermittent breaks. For me, I try to walk away from my desk every sixty minutes or so. Even a five-minute break each hour can yield positive results. Oftentimes, my brain continues to mull over my current project while I take a walk outside. When I return to my editing desk, I’m ready to re-engage.

The editing process can be as unique to the writer as her voice and style. <Tweet this!>

So try a few different methods and see what works best for you.

 

What are your favorite tips for editing?

 

12 Editing Tips for Writers on the Allume blog today! <Tweet this!>

 

Denise J. Hughes

Denise believes in the power of a well-told story. She teaches writing at Azusa Pacific University and even has her students start a blog. She’s the author of On Becoming a Writer: What Every Blogger Needs to Know, and she devotes her blog to helping others develop their craft and deepen their faith. You can connect with Denise on her blog — denisejhughes.com — or on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Creating a Beautiful Writing Space

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For weeks I avoided the office in my house where I do most of my writing. I wasn’t really sure why at the time, it just sort of happened. Of course I would force myself to go in there to get certain things done, but the writing girl inside of me felt stuck for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to write. The words were certainly there. I would write blog posts in my head while feeding my babe at night, and I would jot down ideas in my journal throughout the day as I felt inspired. I even used my dictation app to share some insightful words with my future self.

And one day it hit me…..I didn’t want to spend time in the office because it was UGLY!

When I looked at it that way, it made total sense. You see, I’m a design addict. I love to be surrounded by beauty. It helps my soul rest. And my office? Well, it was a mix of odds and ends that had no purpose, it was by no means hideous, but it was far from warm and inviting. My desktop computer was stuck on a desk in the middle of a space that was drab and boring– and I found that this undermined my ability to relax.

Now, I am certainly not declaring that a perfect space is required for meaningful writing, but if you’re like me…maybe you feel most creative when you’re surrounded by beauty. I know that everyone has a different idea of what qualifies as beautiful. If you crave a personal space that stimulates your creative juices, here are a few tips for that may help your words flow.

Define your space. Your writing space doesn’t need to be a whole office. In fact, you may just write at the dining room table after all of your kiddos are in bed, and that’s great! Use whatever space you have, and transform it into something a bit special. Maybe this means taking a few extra minutes to put away the dishes and put a vase of flowers from your garden just within eye sight. Maybe it means pushing the table closer to the window so you have a little view while writing. The point is, make whatever space you have be a place of rest and beauty.

Make sure to have a comfy seat. Maybe you have a laptop and prefer to snuggle up in a comfy chair, or maybe you prefer to write at a desk. Wherever your booty lands, make sure it’s on a comfortable surface, this will make all the difference when sitting for long periods.

Surround yourself with meaningful pictures or art. If you write about motherhood, maybe you could frame a few pictures of you and your kiddos. Maybe you have a mentor who writes beautiful poetry; why not frame some of her words to inspire creativity when you’re staring off trying to think of just the right way to phase that sentence. Whatever the case, incorporate pieces of art and/or pictures that inspire you.

Put away the phone and turn off the TV.  This one is important. My writing space needs to be clear of the temptation of social media and HGTV. I find that if I have my phone charging right next to me, it inevitably ends up in my hand–and somehow {not really sure how it happens} I end up scrolling through Facebook or some such timesuck. When I deliberately leave the phone out of reach and the TV turned off, that’s when I get my most focused writing done.

Add a few textiles. I don’t know about you, but a comfy blanket and a pretty pillow can really bring a smile to my face. Doesn’t something simple like that just add a little joy to a space? If it is within your budget, maybe think about splurging on a few soft and comfy pieces for your space. Some new bright and airy curtains and a pillow or two might just do the trick. Such pieces may just make you want to stay in your writing  space a little longer.

Organize your space. I know, I know….some of you just aren’t the organized types, and that’s ok. But, I would encourage you to spend some time transforming your space into some semblance of order. When we’re surrounded with things that need our attention (bills, your child’s homework, laundry, the to do list, etc.), that’s when our mind can easily drift off and settle on what else needs to get done. Try your best to keep your writing space free of the “to do’s”.

Add some lighting. Lighting can make a huge difference. For the longest time I was working in a dark space. Once I added some lights, I found that I became more alert and was able to avoid drifting off to sleep during my early morning sessions. For some cheap lighting options, check out your local thrift store; you can usually find some very cool eclectic lamps for really cheap!

Over the winter my man and I spent some time sprucing up our office. We used giftcards we received for Christmas to pour a little bit of life into the space. It made a huge difference. I actually enjoy being in my office now! I actually feel inspired and creative, and I genuinely look forward to being in my office for the first time since moving into our home.

What’s your writing space like? What would you like to change about it if you could?

By: Mandy Scarr

Mandy Scarr

Mandy is a lover of deep relationships, theological discussions, and peanut butter. She seek to share with women of the freedom she walks in because of her relationship with Jesus. She and her husband live in the beautiful suburbs of Washington, D.C. Connect with Mandy further at www.mandyscarr.com, on Facebook, and Twitter (@mandyscarr).

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