My review of Grit for the Oyster

Grit for the Oyster by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss.

This is a must read for any aspiring author/writer.  The book is a perfect blend of inspiration, advice, pick me up, and knowledge.   Loved it.  Also a fast read.  The way it was written – in four sections divided in small themes -is perfect for picking it up at any time, to continue reading it, or for inspiration.  

Although it has a christian base, the lessons here apply to any writer pursuing the craft.  If you happen to be christian, it is a double blessing because you get a second knowledge from it.  I recommend this book to every aspiring writer.  Leave it at your work desk (for reference) after you read it one time.  Keep it next to you, I assure you that you will go back for more.

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Your writing space

Where do you write?  What do you surround yourself with?  What fuels your writing?  You control the answer to these questions.  The way you design your writing space can make you more productive or do the opposite.  Surrounding yourself with things that inspire you will result in a better writing mood which in the end translates into better writing.  Objects, quotes, writing aides – all of it can help you call in your muse.

Approaching your writing space as a professional space where you do your work, and not a hobby, will set the right attitude if you are serious about your writing.  Set up your space in a way that matches your style and you feel comfortable with.

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Save your Rubbish

How many times have you crumbled that piece of paper and aimed it to the waste basket?  How about deleting that file?  Hopefully, not that many times.  Think twice before deleting or throwing away content that is not passing your approval at a particular moment.  Save it.  Yes, save that Rubbish!  It may not be useful now, but it may become inspirational material for future writings.

We are not in the same emotional wave all the time.  Our emotions shift from day-to-day, or moment to moment.  What may not appeal to you today, may become useful material later – inspiration for an idea for a story, for a character, an article, or even a poem.  Right now, it may seem horrible to you, but it may contain the roots for a good piece.

So before you throw away your rubbish, give it a second chance – in the future.

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The man behind the curtain

Yesterday I talked about characters, and how crucial it is to care about your characters – the quality of your writing depends on it.  Sometimes, there is a character out there, hiding, that has not come to light yet or has not jump into the story.  You know he/she is lurking, but not ready to shine yet.

Other times, that character was planned a way, by you, but he/she refuses to exist that way, and leads you in a different direction.  It may come as a surprise to you, and twist to your story.

Ultimately it is up to you to listen to the man (or woman) behind the curtain – you are the writer – but if I was you I would listen carefully.

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Getting to know them

Getting to know who?  Your characters.  Your characters are more than names and descriptions on a page.  They move in with you for a while, and they have lives, feelings and situations.  You write them, but sometimes, they will surprise you and write themselves.

In an interview with Borders, best-selling author Linda Howard (Ice) said that “it is important to  get to know these people and what happens to them.”  She added that she pays attention to “whoever shows up in her imagination and starts talking.”  She expressed that she doesn’t plan anything – she writes “whatever story appeals to her at whatever moment.”

This is because she is very attuned to her characters and what they are saying and doing, and to the ones that have a small voice, but have not pop in yet.  While writing your book or novel, keep your ears and mind open to what your second family has to say.  It will only help you with your writing.  Care about your characters and they will take care of you.

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Creating balance

As a writer, it is important that you balance your schedule and workload, but also your writing.  When writing a piece, consider how everything works together:  characters, plot, age issues, environment, secondary story lines …  All should balance well together to keep your reader’s attention.  My sister is a tough reader; if at some point in a book, something just doesn’t make sense or doesn’t feel like it belongs to the story, she will stop reading, close the book and never go back to it.  I have met myself such reads, unlike her, I have forced myself to finish the book, but at the end, wished I hadn’t – my sister was right.

So balance your act (writing) and keep your readers doing what they love to do:  read – they will come back for more.

 

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Look in the mirror

When inspiration is running dry, and you hit a wall in your writing, your pen is dry, or your keyboard is frozen – look in the mirror.  What? – you must be thinking.  Yes, look at your life, the situations, the people around you, the town where you live, the whole that is YOU.  There is plenty of inspiration around you, and in you.  Unless, you live in a dark cave with no entrance, and even then, that can make a great story.  How can you see in there?  How do you get out?  What do you eat to survive? and so on – soon a story develops.

So, the next time that you are struggling with the paper and pen (or your fingers at the keyboard), get up and look in the mirror.

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Learning from the best

As aspiring authors it is important to learn as much as we can about the craft.  There are many books about writing, genres, and writing tips.  The best source is to learn from best-selling authors who have walked the path.  With the technology these days, this is easy to do.  There are many interviews of best-selling authors in You tube and in book stores.  These interviews are full of great real tips and ideas from these authors.

Another way is to visit their websites, which are full of insights to the craft and many interesting and useful tips.  Many authors have frequently asked questions sections on their sites, which are a big help for an aspiring writer.  Many have written books on the subject, according to their own writing experience and journey.  A book that I recommend is:  How I write, by Janet Evanovich.  It is full of very important and useful information – worth every penny.

If you are serious about your writing, start learning from the best.  Take it a step further and not only read their books, but visit their sites and listen to interviews; or if you have the opportunity, go to their book signings.

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Writing your heart out

A writer’s journey is a long and lonely one.  Lonely, because of the long hours in solitary writing.  Most best-selling authors love the time they spend at book signings because they crave the social aspect of it.  Alone with your pen or computer, your mind starts running in many directions, and many times, you end up pondering your writing skills – more like questioning your writing skills.

Doubt will creep out, especially when you spend so many hours by yourself, writing.  And if you top it with handling rejections and the slow process of making money with the craft, your writer’s confidence can take a dip.  When you end up on the valley of doubt, don’t entertain those thoughts; instead, focus on the task at hand and repeat to yourself:  “I am a writer for the long run.”

A question that helps take the pressure off is:  “Who do I write for?”  When you answer the question honestly you may end up feeling relief.  For example, first, I write for my Creator, and the giver of all good things and talents.  Second, I write from the heart out, and for myself.  Third, I share my writing with readers, and appreciate any interest that they might have.

Taking this approach has helped me be less critical, patient, and a bit more focus with my writing.  I am a writer for the long run.

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The Why

There are many freelance writers and aspiring authors out there, but why do you write?  Have you ever ask yourself the question?  Do you write because is your passion?  Do you write to blow some steam off? Or maybe, to make a couple bucks online?  Maybe you feel it is something more, something that you have to do – your destiny.

Whatever your reason for writing, it must be clear to you.  Why?  Because it permeates your pages, and your readers can tell if you are serious about your writing, passionate, or just making the quick buck.  There is much writing out there that seems careless, quick, and typed in a hurry.  If you write SEO content, volume counts, but readers care about how the information is presented.

When you know your why for writing, a clear purpose translates into a better written piece.  And eventually, faithful readers who appreciate a well presented article or story.  So, if you have never asked yourself the question: “Why do I write?” –  think about it.  Maybe, the answer will surprise you.