Tag Archives: Writers Resources

I Believe in My Writer Self

Sandra Bell Kirchman’s office

I am a member of the Mastering the 15 Habits of Great Writers workshop.  Today is Day 2 and brings with it the word BELIEVE to meditate on.  This isn’t your ordinary BELIEVE but an opportunity to believe in myself as a writer, deep down in the very core of my being.  That, of course, is where I have the problem.

I can accept the concept that I am a writer (although it is still a little shaky).  This workshop has done wonders in encouraging and supporting me in that regard.  But the belief part is a little trickier, because it is a leap of faith and involves what defines me.  I have dozens of examples of my writing, so it isn’t that.

Here’s the kicker.  I have trouble believing in my core being that I am a writer, partly because it comes easily to me.  Don’t get me wrong…great writing doesn’t come easily, just writing.  I have this very bad habit of discounting anything that requires little effort on my part, and there are a few.

Because of the meditation I have done today, I have come to the conclusion that I am discarding belief in many important aspects of the definitive me:  writing, editing, English language, public speaking, being of service, enthusiasm, support, and so on.  The things that don’t come easily to me seem to rise to the top as the ones I prize:  knitting, cooking, singing, visual arts, dog training, and so on.  However, taking a look at the two lists, and pretending that I am not me for a moment, I see that the first list is the one that nurtures me; the second is merely a list of wants.

Tools of the writing trade

With that revelation, which just happened today, I believe I can move forward.  It’s no good discounting a trait because it comes easily.  I should welcome it joyfully because I don’t have to struggle so much to be me.

Fortunately, Jeff Goins, the writer who is facilitating the workshop, has also provided a way to help put my belief into practice.  Tomorrow morning, all of us in the workshop need to get up two hours earlier than our usual time and use that time to just write.  No checking emails, or wandering off to read blogs, or scanning the news.  Just write.

One of the members of the community shared that this reminds him very much of his baseball career, in that practice is what makes the difference between being okay and being great.  Out of that, I put together that committing myself to do is believing.  How about you?


Declaration of love – I AM A WRITER!

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Listen closely, so you don’t miss it.


I used to be embarrassed to tell people I was a writer.  This was because it was immediately followed by questions from them like, “What have you written?”  “Would I recognize  your pen name?”  and the worst…”Are you famous?”  They all made me cringe.

So I stopped saying it for about 15 years.  And I stopped writing what I loved to write…fantasy fiction.  I half-heartedly pursued my journalistic career, tried radio, giving lectures, paralegal work, but very little in the way of fiction writing.  I thought I couldn’t have the name if I didn’t play the game.  This led to thinking that I probably wasn’t good enough anyhow.  What little writing I did do seemed to corroborate what I was thinking, which resulted in more years of not writing and not feeling satisfied inside.

Witchcanery – 1st edition

Then, at the urging of my husband, I left my job as the news editor for an online gaming site.  I took up the writing of a book I had started from an idea I developed in a short, short story contest.  It was a crossover fantasy fiction novel, with some science fiction thrown in.  I had loved the short story, and I was rapidly falling in love with the novel, which I had named Witchcanery.

I self-published it.  It did so well, that I turned it over to another publishing company to publish a second edition.  Then my past caught up with me.  All the projects I had gathered about me to keep me from writing demanded completion.  I was caught.  So I started this blog to help me keep my hand in about writing.  That helped some, but it also added more work to keep me from my fantasyfic writing.

Finally, I said ENOUGH.  I will write.  And you know why?  Because I AM A WRITER.  And I had to get serious, because keeping away from writing was making me ill, which of course took away more time from writing.

So far, I have departed from most of my volunteer work and am disposing of my small web design business.  I am learning to say no.  And I am intent on finishing my one business writing project, so I can write.  The challenge offered by Jeff Goins has fired me up again, and my spirit will prevail.  The trumpets sound and the golden curtains part as the words blazon themselves in the sky and in my heart.


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The foregoing is the exercise for Day 1 of the 15-day program to master 15 habits of great writers.  The challenge today is to declare I am a writer in public.  For more information click on the Participant badge in the sidebar to the right.

E-Book Review: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins, author of “You Are A Writer”

Jeff Goins is a writer who believes in writers.  He believes in them so much that he has shared a great deal of his wisdom gained through experience in the writing field.  No one ever said writing was easy, but Jeff explains some of the important ins and outs, like platforms and brands and networking.

 Jeff is also going to present a 15-day workshop, starting tomorrow (June 5) that he says will improved your writing drastically.

Jeff Goins wrote:  All great things come with practice, and writing is no different. If you want to move from mediocrity to mastery, you’re going to need to do what the masters do. You’re going to have to form new habits.

So, he will work with us in practicing what the masters practice.  I signed up.  See at the bottom of this review how to get more info on this workshop and how to get Jeff’s e-book that I have reviewed below.  You will need the e-book for the workshop.

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E-Book Review:  YOU ARE A WRITER (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

by Sandra Bell Kirchman
Copyright © 2012 by Sandra Bell Kirchman

Recently I attended a webinar that covered, amongst other things, allowing yourself to dream your dream, believing in yourself, encouraging yourself to dream bigger, and putting yourself in your dream, i.e., choose yourself.

The next thing I knew, Jeff Goins, respected author of such writer-friendly titles as The Writer’s Manifesto and Building an Empire With Words (as co-author), offered me a chance to review his latest e-book, You Are A Writer.

Guess what You Are A Writer is about?  Yup, allowing yourself to dream, believing in yourself, encouraging yourself to dream bigger, putting yourself in your dream…from a writer’s perspective.  Well, you could’a knocked me over with an elf’s wink, it being such a timely piece for me to read.

“You Are A Writer” by Jeff Goins

But wait, there’s more!  (sorry, couldn’t resist that).  Seriously this e-book is full of answers and explanations of things that likely puzzle all starting writers.  I know they had me scratching my head.  It begins with the premise:  You are already a writer.  You just need to write.  And then it goes from there with advice, explanations, examples and step-by-step how-to’s of how to establish yourself as a successful writer.

Every wonder what the heck an author’s platform was?  Or an author’s brand?  How does one get published by publishers?  This book has all that and more.  Jeff’s style is to state the question or problem, give an answer and description of it, lay out a step-by-step guide of how to accomplish it.  He finishes it off with his own personal experience in the topic at hand.  By the time you’ve finished reading the book, you will feel solid with: 

  • knowing and building your own author’s platform
  • understanding what an author’s brand is and how to develop your own brand
  • networking, how to build a community, building social relationships, and the relative importance of social communication

Jeff cares enough about writers and writing to tell you the bare truth about the job:

  • It’s harder than you think.
  • It’s not enough to be good.  You have to be great.
  • Nobody cares about you.  People care about themselves.
  • It’s more about who you know than what you know.
  • You’d better love it.  (Otherwise, quit now.)

Jeff leads you from quivering beginning writer who has a hard time believing she is really a writer, through steps that will help you gain that confidence and belief.  He helps you understand thoroughly the above three points and how to implement them in your writing and your life.

He finished up with an excellent description and how-to section of how to get published, advocating to start small and build relationships until you have the experience and expertise to accomplish the last step: get your book published (if that is your dream).

 You Are A Writer is wrapped up in humor, caring, and nuts-and-bolts facts.  In my opinion, it is a treasure for any writer who has had questions on where they are now, where they are going, and how to get there.

If you are interested in Mastering the Habits of Great Masters, go here.  You need to sign your blog up on that page.  Remember, it starts tomorrow, so don’t miss it.

You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins has just been released and is available in Amazon’s Kindle Store for $2.99.  Good news is that you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle stories.  You can download free Kindle software onto your computer, which will handle your e-book reading.

Baffled by Writing Conventions and/or Tricks of the Writing Trade?


Image via Wikipedia

What areas of writing would you like insight into?  What stops you in your tracks when you’re writing like a house afire?  What elements of fiction writing would you like clarified?

This is the place for some answers.  Please list your questions in the comments of this post.  Then I will select one (or more if I have time) a week and answer it from my years of experience as a writer and editor.  I will also invite others to publish their experience in those areas.  You can ask more questions as we go along.  When we’re finished, if you don’t have a helpful answer (and you have to be honest :P), I will write a limerick just for you 🙂

The Pain of Revising and How to Cure It

Here what James A. Michener had to say about revising:

James A. Michener, author

“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

After reading the towering masterpieces of this American writer, works such as Tales of the South PacificHawaii, and Centennial, I believe it.

At the beginning of my career not only did I not believe Michener , but I hardly ever did any rewriting, other than correcting typos.  This one time I had spent hours on a short story, lovingly carving each word and bringing it to life with my own blood and tears.  When it was finished, in the flush of creation I deemed it perfect and sadly didn’t look at it again.  Instead I sent it out “as is” to an editor.  The story was rejected.  I sent it out again.  Rejected.  And again.  Rejected. 

The fourth time was the charm.  On the standard rejection slip, some kind editor had scribbled.  “Needs ext. revision.”  After getting over my first knee-jerk reaction of angry denial, I spent some time puzzling over what “ext.” meant—surely not “exterior”?  “Extra”?  Extant?  It finally dawned on me that it meant “extensive.”  I sank in my chair, amazed and chagrined…not my perfect story that was so beloved and contained so much of my bs&t (blood, sweat and tears)!

Sheesh, was I embarrassed!

I pulled the manuscript out of it return envelope and started reading.  My face slowly heated up as I became more embarrassed the further I read.  Not only did purple prose stare me in the face, but there were typos.  I struggled with revising it and sent it out again; but I never did sell that story.  I finally filed it under UNSOLD and moved on.

For a couple of years after that, I always read my manuscript over and tried to revise it.  Trouble was, I didn’t really know how to revise.  Then I got my hands on a book, which changed my writing life.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name or author of the book and I loaned it to someone who never gave it back.  However, I learned to enjoy revising, and it became a challenge to find the areas that needed revision.  Once that happened, I started to sell my fiction material.  Most writers I know of credit their success to successful revision of their first raw draft.  Some writers revise many times.  Some only once, but the ones that do no revision at all are rarely successful.

Here are some of the things I have learned about revising, which I will be demonstrating in my next post with my work in progress, Battle Cleric.  It’s sort of a first draft and needs work.  I will share with you how I do it.

1.  Start off stories with a bang.  It doesn’t have to be direct action, but it does have to be compelling, in a way that makes the reader ask questions and WANT to read on to find out the answers.  In short stories, it is called the sizzler, the zinger, or the hook.  In a novel, you want to introduce the main character and give the reader an idea of what the book is going to be about.  If you have a theme for your story, it would be helpful to put it in the first few pages as well in some way.

2.  Don’t give too much of the back story in the beginning.  Let the reader find it out through dialogue, through flashbacks later on, and through deduction.  If you see a man in a robe that is not a bathrobe, custom declares that this story is not set in modern times, and quite possibly not of this world.  That is a clue for the reader about time, place, and circumstance.

Throw away the throwaway words.

3.  Remove all throwaway words.  These include there was, there are, there is, there were.  Check all adjectives and adverbs to see if they are absolutely necessary.  Strength comes from your verbs, but watch out for purple prose.  If you have too many people howling, roaring, stomping, crashing, etc., it starts to become melodrama, which is often unintentionally funny.

4.  Be careful of dialogue tags.  You want to minimize such tags as whispered, sobbed, laughed, choked, gurgled, etc.  Said is the best and most invisible dialogue tag you have in your toolbox of words.  Said is your friend.  Occasionally, you can insert one of the more powerful verbs as a dialogue tag (roared, stammered, shrieked, etc.), but they are like strong spices in the stew of dialogue tagging…meant to be used sparingly.

Watch out for the eyes.

5.  Watch out for eye movement.  Hysterically, she threw her eyes around the room (and what? Spent the next hour searching for them blindly?)  I have seen eyes slanted at, cut toward, sweep a room, send a disgusted glance, and so on.  It has always made me laugh.  You don’t want uninvited laughter from a reader.

6.  Search for awkward phrasing.  For instance, you probably have been told never to end a sentence with a preposition.  But the writing can get stiff and overly formal if you hold strictly to this.  You can either rewrite the sentence to avoid the preposition altogether.  Or you can do it the way you were told not to.  See?  The world didn’t come to an end when I did that.

There is lots more to come.  I learned a ton over the last three or four decades.  And I want to share it all with you.  But not all at once 🙂  So be patient, and practice working with those first six I have just given you.  You will be amazed at the resulting cosmetic and intrinsic value of your writing.