Are You A Writer Who Reads?

 

A writer who doesn’t read is like a chef who doesn’t eat anyone else’s food.   He becomes arrogant and unapproachable. A writer needs to be a reader of other people’s words. In so doing his own words improve.

What do you write?

Whether you write devotionals, poetry, articles or novels you should read. Read in your genre. If you write historical fiction you should read a lot of historical fiction. You should be reading contemporary fiction to see if the modern story can be put in an historical setting. You should be reading history books about the period and people in your novel.  All of this reading will make you a better writer.

Writers must read

There are authors who refuse to read books in their own genre fearing the influence those books might have on their present project. Others read them deliberately to discover why they are best sellers.

I meant a man once who rarely read but was writing a novel. He felt his story had to be told and of course was going to be a best seller. I thought good luck with that.  If he rarely read how he could possibly expect others to read his book.  Maybe the market was already filled to overflowing with books just like his.

Read the things you’d like to write

Read the books from publishers you want to see your manuscript. Decide what it is those publishers wants in a book. Read magazines you would like to write for. Learn what their needs are.

Read books about Writing

Read books that help improve your writing. A writer can never know it all. Best Selling Author Jerry B. Jenkins says he rereads Elements of Style by Strunk every year. A book choked full of grammar rules. On my own book shelf I have Stein On Writing by Sol Stein, Writing Breakout Novels by Donald Maas, Fiction Writing Demystified by Thomas B Sawyer to name a few. I have books on writing query letter and proposals and resource books to help with writing historical descriptions.

Read to understand style

Jack London author of Call Of The Wild as a struggling unknown would read great literature. Then try to rewrite passages to see if he could improve upon them.  Reading the classics helps writers to see what books endure. And reading the paper helps a budding journalist understand what standard of writing style is needed to be successful in that field.

Read often

I feel a writer should always have something on hand she is reading even when she is in the middle of writing the great American novel.  While writing my historical fiction I read contemporary fiction during down times when my brain wasn’t functioning.  Whenever I’m not writing something I’m reading for pleasure or research.  I’m even reading blogs like this to encourage me in my craft.

So, my fellow-writers enjoy the taste of words. Ingest the published words of others and see how they nourish your writer’s soul.

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Why I Started a Writer’s Blog

Writer’s need to blog. Why?  I could say because we love to write and we have something to say. But truthfully, because we need to get that exposure that gives us creditability. When you submit stuff for publication you need a fan base to give you more leverage as you query.  I started this blog a few weeks ago. But I am not sure who is actually reading it. I found out that my face book page was not connected to it. So the first two entries have not been offered to my fb friends. 

I took a webinar on how to set up a free blog. The problem for me is I’m a hands on kinda girl. Don’t tell me work with me. My husband wasn’t home when I did the webinar- he’s a tell and do kinda guy. Eventually we had time to sit down and go over my webinar notes. They weren’t too great because I was slightly confused.  So my sweet hubby went through the tutorial and set up a blog for himself to learn how to use it. This is probably what I should have done if I wasn’t so timid and impatient with things like that. He spent hours yesterday trying to figure out what he did to get his blog to connect with face book so he could connect mine there too.

The goal of this post is to get my blog connected to my face book page. But because I want each post to have value for my readers I share my novice experience with blogging. I want to encourage my fellow writers to get their name out there by blogging. Don’t hesitate to get help setting one up from those more computer savvy.

Tips for new bloggers

Keep it on one theme.

 In my case I choose writers tips. I may start other blogs with other themes.

Keep your blog short try to stay under 500 words.

Bold print subtitles

Use the tutorial

Ask questions of the blog host site or your techie friends

Start with the free blog later you can upgrade to the fee level

Try to have fun with it. Even a novice writer has something to say that others will enjoy.  Go ahead take the plunge and blog along with me.

Networking at Catch A Bunch Of Authors Event

Networking with other writers is a must to be a successful writer. Attending a writer’s conference is not the only way to network. I went to a fun event at our public library Catch a Bunch of Authors. Fifty local authors were on hand to autograph their books and answer questions. I visited almost every author and chatted with them. Some I bought books from; others I took materials. My goal was to network.

 I asked some  authors who their publishers were and what inspired them to write their books. Fascinating stories.  Openness and honesty with their answers made for a pleasant exchange. I went home and sorted their business cards according to those who gave me the most useful information and websites I wanted to explore. I had given my business card to a few of those who had additional information for me.

Anywhere you find fellow writers is where you will find a wealth of information. It doesn’t take much prodding to get them to talk about their favorite subject. If you are courteous and have a listening ear, the time spent with them can be golden.

A few do not’s when networking with authors

Don’t monopolize their time; they came to the event to get their names out there and sell their books.

Don’t argue with them about their subject matter. If you are not interested in it, pass their table by.

Don’t ask them to read your stuff or set you up with their publisher. It’s ok to mention that you write. If they ask you about what you write and only if they ask, briefly tell them. If they are interested in asking you further questions, they will.

 Don’t barter for a bigger discount than what they are offering.  If you can’t afford to buy the book right then, take the brochure home for later reference, or ask if their book is on line. I went home and purchased two books for my pc for a fraction of the paperback cost, and the author still got her royalties.

Some definite Do’s when networking with authors

Do smile and thank them for their time and information

Do tell them you are looking forward to reading their book if you purchased it

Do give them helpful information in return.

One gentleman had written a book for teens to inspire them to find mentors who were not entertainers or sports icons. My husband and I gave him several leads for organizations and individuals who might benefit from his book.  A fantasy author’s presentation of her book seemed like a good fit for my daughter-in-law’s fourth grade class so I took materials to hook them up.

Networking has great rewards

During my two hours of perusing books and talking to authors, I got publisher leads, writer’s group info and encouragement.  Check your local paper or library newsletter for author’s gathering in your area.

Writing Tips:-Critics

Criticism is not a bad word. When it comes to our writing we need editors and critics to help hone our craft.  I have three awesome editors and critics in my husband Charles, my girl friend Gayle and my daughter Pam.  Each having their own insights to help improve my words. My fellow writer Kim interacts with me  via the internet from her home in Montana. She adds fresh eyes and shows me things I have overlooked.  Next to a professional critique services  having these individuals input is priceless.

 Others reading my work helps catch those mistakes that I don’t catch because I have read it a hundred times  and don’t realize for example I typed the word then instead of than or there instead of their. My husband the grammarian catches those common mistakes  that evade my eyes. Gayle  catches the ones my hubby may have missed after reading draft after draft. My daughter asked those deep questions like:“Mom, what does this paragraph have to do with the rest of the story?” or “This paragraph sounds like it is your conclusion. While Kim  catches POV (point of view) problems, clichés and odd dialogue.   These people are necessary to make my writing the best it can be. 

Critical imput is not for wimps

If you are not willing for others to critique your work then maybe writing is not your calling. Scripture tells us that iron sharpens iron. My critics sharpen my work as well as help me to develop a tough skin regarding my writing.  Fear of the red pen only cripples a writer’s growth. If you put that baby you created out there for others to red pen you  might be surprised how much better it will become.

Choose your red pen partners carefully

 Be careful who you give that red pen to though. You want to find a balance between Negative Nancys and Pleasant Pollys. Either extreme can be disasterous.  Those with only negative comments leave you feeling deflated while those who love every word you pen just as it is will do you a disservice when you submit that Pulitzer to a publisher and it is rejected.

 Ask God to show you who to critique your work. All the input from critiques is not necessarily gospel for you to follow verbatim. Grammar and punctuation should be changed. Other ideas and suggestions are just that. You are the author you decide what the final draft will look like.

Find a writer’s group

Getting involved in a writer’s group in your area or online will not only improve your writing but give you a network for future publication leads.