Stuck in your current project? A writing prompt completely unrelated to the task at hand can help loosen your writing muscles up. Try it today at my friend Josh’s blog. Happy writing.
Doesn’t Everyone Like This Too?
Have you ever loved a music album or book and thought, if only other people could hear it or read it they would love it? But then they don’t love it and you wonder how in the world that could happen?
This is how I feel about writing. I love it. I’m passionate about it. I could do it all day or night, and while I’d get tired eventually, I would certainly not tire of writing. When I had this thought for the first time I realized that writing is one of my passions and not everyone is passionate about the same thing.
Passions Are Unique
My wife likes math and has talked of possibly pursuing accountancy once the kids are a little older. I love my wife. More than anything in the world. But math, in nearly any form, makes me about as excited as I would be for a root canal.
I love that I’ve found my passion. Take a moment and think about yours. All of us have them. Usually, they are something in our wheelhouse, something we have some latent talent in. And they most certainly are something ingrained, that we enjoy.
It’s Up To You To Work At It
I dream about becoming a novelist. But I cannot just dream about it. I must take this unique passion I have and work at it. And work hard. I find so much joy and satisfaction from it and never want to cease doing it.
This requires discipline.
It requires showing up, maybe not here on my blog everyday, but movement toward my goal everyday.
I won’t be satisfied until I have that constant effort.
This past year, I fell well short of my goal to read 40 books in a year. That being said, I enjoyed some of the best books I’ve ever read.
My least favorite book this year was King Solomon’s Mines.
My favorite fictional character goes to Tiffany Aching for a third year in a row, Mr. Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series never seems to grow old.
A Moveable Feast was just that – delicious.
The best book I read this year was Unbroken. I am sure you were told by a friend to read it at to some point over the last few years and you need to listen to them. If not them then me. Please read it. I beg you.
If you don’t trust me just read one of the 15,000+ 5 star reviews on Amazon.com. I finished it a few weeks ago and I am not sure I can say it changed my life but it has changed its trajectory for now. I still cannot believe anyone lived that experience.
Thanks for reading, and please share any recommendations for 2015 in the comments section below. Thank you in advance.
Happy New Year.
- The Fourth Part of the World – Toby Lester
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
- The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
- The Giver – Lois Lowry
- Myths of the Norsemen – Roger Lancelyn Green
- 14 – Peter Clines
- Because of Winn Dixie – Kate Dicamillo
- The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
- The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
- King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
- The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
- The Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett
- I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
- A Walk In the Woods – Bill Bryson
- The Adventures of Robin Hood – Roger Lancelyn Green
- Stardust – Neil Gaiman
- The Art of War for Writers – James Scott Bell
- A Moveable Feast – Earnest Hemingway
- 1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus – Charles L. Mann
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
- On the Wings of Eagles – Ken Follett
- Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
I follow Kristen Lamb’s blog and she posted a hilarious writerly video by David Kazzle. Please enjoy. Also check out her blog.
Ruts are life suckers. I like to avoid them. As much as you or I might try, inevitably, we wind up static, gears locked, in the mud.
For writers and entrepreneurs, even if we love whatever it is that we long to do, that extra gumption we need to perform can simply leave one day and be near impossible to get back. Have you ever wondered how you wound up so far off the track you intended to traverse?
But, this, my friends, this is what I love about a new week. Nothing has happened yet.
This week, we can choose to do anything.
We can choose to chase the things we love.
I hope you do that. Don’t waste this fertile ground.
I recently read that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, said he learns more about life from fiction than nonfiction. Now, whether you like Mr. Bezos or not is not the point. The point is someone who is very powerful in the business world, a world some might consider unequivocally different from the world of writing fiction, values it – and highly so.
My good friend Andy Rogers sent me a video a while back that explores this topic. Below, Mac Barnett, a New York Times bestselling author of children’s books, discusses the bizarre overlap of truth in nominal and very real worlds.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Great tips! Best of luck to all who attempt NaNoWriMo.
With Nanowrimo coming up in a few weeks, I thought I’d share some tools I’ve been playing with to keep track of a novel’s timeline. One of my works-in-progress involves multiple generations and interwoven plot lines, so a chart was just not going to cut it this time. Have you tried either of these systems? Opinions? Additions?
Aeon Timeline – So far, this is my favorite. If you already use Scrivener, this program makes Scrivener an even more powerful writing platform because it syncs with your Scrivener files. I can’t impress upon you enough how awesome that is. When I add an event in Aeon, it asks me if I want to create a corresponding file in Scrivener. When I write a new scene in Scrivener, I can put the date and time of the action and Aeon will create a new event on the timeline when the projects sync. It’s like magic.
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Last night I told my daughters a story. It was about a boy who found a secret door in a bookstore which led to a world where he was small and everything else enormous. His name was Errol and he escaped a hawk then grew hungry as he could not find his way home. After help from some plucky squirrels, he made it back to the door, hidden in the knot of an evergreen tree.
My daughters loved it and begged for another but it was time for bed. I closed the door and walked away with a smile.
As a writer I love to create stories. But I love sharing them infinitely more and getting a reaction. I know my children look past the story’s inconsistencies – like why don’t more children disappear through the secret passage? And, wouldn’t the police get suspicious and arrest the bookstore owner and close the whole thing down? What about time paradoxes and the like? Legitimate questions. But not in this world of stories. I don’t want to focus on boring realities. We’re after wonder here.
I want to pass on wonder and longing and truth. To give them something to chase, things deep and moving and noble. Fiction is real life dressed up in story. This is what I want to share.
What do you hope to pass on to your readers? I hope it’s not just a book to cover your mortgage.
I hope it’s wondrous, whatever it is.
My writers group, The Weaklings, met recently to discuss the next Jot Writers Mini-Conference. I thought I’d tell you what we know so far.
Jot IV or Jot 4 (which one do you like better?) will take place on Friday, September 12th at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI from 7pm – 11pm. The price, as it has always been, will be nothing. The value will be considerably more (hopefully).
At the moment, only a few of our speakers have been confirmed. We’ll have veteran Jot speaker and editor at Discovery House Publishers, Andrew Rogers, and we just signed on blogger and Houzz.com writer, Alison Hodgson. We have two more speakers that we’re still bullying into agreements, so stay tuned for those.
For past attendees, we’re excited to announce that Baker Book House has agreed to expand the stage area of the store to accommodate our…
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Jot is done. The conference was a blast and not because my writers group put it together, but because it was packed, I met several new writers, learned a ton and was encouraged to write. Among the speakers was keynote Tracy Groot. She shared her ideas on pop lit.
During an interview with her on the Jot Conference blog, she listed six things that a good pop lit book, (or all good books) should have:
- A killer first line
- A killer first page
- Action, action, action
- But not TOO much action
- Lovely little details
- Stuff to think about
I am beginning the next book my Seven Sages series and have a fairly solid idea where I am going with it. I drafted it years ago and split it into two books. Because I already have a good idea of what must happen to get my characters through the book (or sadly lay them to rest), I thought I would examine these six things a little more and see what I can do to make sure my book incorporates them. I started with the first two – the killer first line and the killer first page.
The first line I was thinking of was something like – They were right behind him.
What’s more exciting than starting with a chase scene? Who is this person? What are they running from? I think the luxury of writing a second book in a series is that you already have the characters established. There is growth or change in the people in the book but when you say Thaddeus, or whoever your main character is, the audience already knows who you are talking about. So, you can mess with your audience a bit and really crank up the action.
How about the killer first page? With line one, we’ve already established that there is a chase going on, so what does a good chase scene need? Near misses? Silences followed by loud noises? A character hiding while their pursuer walks slowly past, dragging their feet, as they search inches from the character hiding?
My scene takes place in mysterious wood so why not a near miss, followed by a silence followed by running into a beast that cries out letting his trackers know where he is? I am just playing with this idea now, but let’s face, attention spans are shorter now. We need to do what we can to get our readers invested and down the shoot and into our world as quickly as possible. Action, should not be for the sake of action, it must be important to the story. It must pull our readers in and not let them go. If your book has no need for a chase scene, why not an argument or some other form of intense dialogue to begin the story?
What have your done to make your first line and first page stronger?
There is much more to write, and much more to learn, so off to it.
Write 500 words today.