Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wary Writer Syndrome

From the time I was a little girl, I remember hearing adults speak about ways to encourage reluctant readers to fall in love with books. Times really haven’t changed much. People are still trying to inspire children to read.

Today I’m not going to talk about reluctant readers, but a disorder that is just as crippling—Wary Writer Syndrome! My hope today is to inspire someone reading this post to pick up your pen and start writing the stories God has placed within you.

I’ve suffered from the dreaded Wary Writer Syndrome myself from time to time, and have met some of the most talented and amazing writers, who suddenly stop writing because they were plagued with this dreaded bug. Their writing dreams were snuffed out in an instant because they succumbed to Wary Writer Syndrome.

Whatever you do, don’t stop writing! The way to become a better writer is to write, rewrite, write again, and then write some more.

Wary Writer Syndrome is self-destructive and a type of self-sabotage. The battlefield is in our minds. Inferiority and insecurity, if left unchecked, have the power to end a writing career before it begins.

Here are a few tips to help you stay on the “write” track:

• Pray and ask the Lord to enlarge your writing territory. Ask for His blessings as you sow seeds of hope in your stories. Then start writing the pieces as He directs and prepare for a harvest.

• Don’t compare yourself with others. There will always be more talented writers and there will be less gifted ones. You’ll suffer with a deflated ego or an inflated one. It’s best to just be yourself and write from your heart the stories God has given you.

• Keep honing your writing skills. Never lose a humble, teachable spirit. Remember our wise heavenly Father exalts the humble.

• Prepare for publication. Develop as a writer and submit your best writing to publishers. There will come a day when all your “preparation” will meet “opportunity.” When that day comes, you will be ready and thankful you didn’t give up and succumb to Wary Writer Syndrome.

So what are you waiting for? Dust off the cobwebs from your favorite writing corner. Pick up your pen or fire up your computer and start writing today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shaping Small Souls

Since becoming a children’s author, I’ve often heard, “Writing for children is much easier than writing for adults. Right?” I smile, shake my head, and do my best to dispel the commonly believed myth.

Children are bright, witty, and love a good story, but successful children’s stories don’t just happen. They must be crafted well. I’ll leave the intricate details of plot, subplot, conflict, structure, voice, characterization, dialogue, and point-of-view to the experts, but what I’d like to inspire you with today is simple ways to keep your creative juices flowing and stop “writer’s block” from camping out at your place. I’ve tucked some tips I’ve learned on my writing journey in this simple acrostic—C.H.I.L.D.R.E.N.


C—Cherish childhood memories. Reminisce often. Take long strolls down Memory Lane. Draw from those stories and write about authentic, believable, and loveable characters.

H—Hone your craft. Join a writing critique group. Attend a writers’ conference. Allow seasoned writers to mentor you and influence your writing. Be patient and never stop learning.

I—Interact with children. Familiarize yourself with what issues children face. Observe their dialogue and actions when you immerse yourself in their world.

L—Learn the art of revision. After you feel your manuscript is finished, set it aside and come back later. Revision is your best writing buddy and will make your manuscript crisp and concise.

D—Develop an objective mindset toward your manuscript. This simple attitude adjustment will help you become a better writer and separate you from the pack of other writers.

R—Remember what it’s like to be a child. Don’t talk down to the little ones in your world. Speak on their level. Children are like wet cement and your stories are shaping their small souls.

E—Enjoy the ride. Don’t get all stressed out over your manuscript. If you have fun writing, it will show in the stories you write. Remember your story has the power to transplant a smile on the face of a hurting child and sow seeds in his or her small soul.

N—No egos allowed. Many writers feel their story is perfect just the way it is. This attitude will stunt your growth as a children’s writer. To become a better writer, you must leave your ego at the door and allow other writers to help sharpen your writing skills. You’ll be glad you did.

Get busy writing for little ones today! They need your amazing story.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Son in My Eyes

Did you ever play the sing-along-song-game, “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?”

Do you remember the question and reply? “Who me? Couldn’t be!”
That’s how I sometimes feel I should answer when I am asked, “Are you a children’s author?”

I have to be honest and admit I never set out to be a children’s author, but God had different plans. I am living proof that God can use anybody and make them what they never dreamed they could be.

When I was around eight years old, I visited my paternal grandmother. I told her about a missionary story I heard at Sunday school. Grandma disappeared into her utility room and came back with a few sheets of typing paper stapled together and said, “Go write your own missionary story.”

A title flashed in my head and I scribbled it down on the front page—Mae Sue’s God. I wrote about an oriental woman, who worshipped idols and then heard of God’s love for her. Soon she came into a personal relationship with Jesus and destroyed all of her false gods. I even found a box of crayons and illustrated my tiny booklet.

Little did my grandmother know when she read every page and affirmed my efforts, she was helping mold me and whet my writing appetite.

Forty-four years later, I was hired to write a biography about a Vietnamese Buddhist woman who had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. (Mai Spencer’s book The Son in My Eyes was released in June.) Although Mai’s book was not for children, the proceeds from book sales go to some poor children in Vietnam.

When people ask me how they can write for the Lord. I encourage them to give their “writing” lunch to Jesus and watch it multiply. He has bigger dreams for us than we could ever dream for ourselves.

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