Friday, December 10, 2010

The gift of encouragement

I never want to underestimate the simple gift of encouragement.

A kind word warms the heart.

A smile lightens a load. 

A listening ear and a nod of the head tells others they matter. 

Just being there tells others they are not alone. 

I wonder what God will do today through you and me today with the simple gift of encouragement?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Seven-minute challenge: lunch boxes

I learned this technique in a writing class taught by award-winning author Colleen Reece: take paper and pen. Listen to a writing prompt. Next, write as fast as you can for seven minutes.

Wasn't easy at first. I edited. Re-wrote. Crossed out sentences. Took a couple of weeks until, finally, I got it.

The weekly challenge turned out to be lucrative. Eventually, the finished products provided articles for magazines that sold at least four times.  That's what we writers refer to as "milk money". 

How about giving it a go? You've got nothing to lose. And you might be surprised to see how creative you could be in such a short amount of time.

Ready? Here's today's seven-minute challenge: 

My favorite lunch box ___________.

A little pencil in the big hands of a writing God,

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Kind words from Capital City reader

We writers love to hear from readers, don't we?  And positive feedback is especially encouraging! 

That happened yesterday when I opened an e-mail from Johna, a Capital City Weekly reader. She felt uplifted from this week's column that focuses on showing appreciation for others.

Johna and her boyfriend live that purpose. They offer kindnesses to each other and those they care about.  The result? They're sharing God's love in practical ways. And hopefully that will encourage them to do the same, she wrote.

Kudos to them! 

Southeast Alaska has some bright spots this time of year, coming from people like Johna and her honey.

I think we need more Johna's in this world. Don't you?

A little pencil in the big hands of a writing God,

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Share it, please!

Dear writers,

Do you have something on your heart you'd like to write about-- but you're afraid? Then please: do it anyway. Don't worry whether or not it's good enough. Don't worry about what others will say.

Perhaps you could share about:
  • a favorite childhood incident;
  • an unexpected kindness;
  • aroma of your favorite supper while it cooked;
  • your favorite childhood book;
  • heartaches from losing loved ones; and
  • wonder of new life.
What you have to write matters. It really does. And your words just might be what someone has been needing to read. Don't be afraid.

I hope this encourages you.

A little pencil in the big hands of a writing God,


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Away with those writing fears!

This is my New Year's letter of encouragement for those of you who have always wanted to write, but are afraid.

When I first started writing for a living, many doubts held me back, including:

  • Inadequacy -- I felt I wasn't good enough; there were so many writers who were much better than me. This is true; someone will always be better. So what?
  • Education -- I looked at the writers who had Masters of Fine Arts, who sold best-sellers, who made at least $20,000 for speaking engagements. I don't know about you, but $20,000 is a ton of money. With that amount, I could help my husband build his dream workshop, replace our worn carpet and finally buy a new couch. But while I looked at those writers, I remembered that life experiences count for something! And God wouldn't give them to me unless they counted. Yours count, too.
  • Fear -- How could I start writing for publications? Who'd want to read my words? New York editors take seconds to scan a query letter; how could mine be worth reading? Then I realized that fear held me back from personal growth. Someone could be encouraged by reading my words, written from my heart. As for editors, they're people, too. Each day they commute to work, they're hoping to do the best they can at their job. They have photos of their families on their desks, dreams for their future. Plus, they, too have fears. They're human, for crying out loud. They're approachable, I've discovered. And I've found, so far, they're very nice to work with.

The biggest obstacle that held me back from writing for publication was, simply, fear. And fear is hurtful.

I prayed about my work, knowing God would help me to write just what I needed to say. It has helped me in my grief over losing Dad, through walking with my precious mom in her journey with Alzheimer's and in helping readers know they're not alone in their own similar journeys. I've also been able to sing the praises in black and white of my dear friends and family; what other job allows one to do that?

Once those fears were brushed aside, I was able to get my column out to several papers -- which run from Alaska all the way south to the Lone Star State. The lack of fear has also given me precious opportunities to build relationships with the public through my features reporting. I also speak on facing our inadequacies with the best friend and writing partner in the world, author Pamela Johnson. And now, together, our huge writing project is underway. Are we excited? Heck, yeah. Are we afraid? Nope.

For each of you who want to write, I encourage you: don't be afraid to use your voice. Speak to your readers. Ignore the naysayers.

You can do it in 2010. Let me know how it goes for you.

A little pencil in the big hands of a writing God,