Tuesday, October 11, 2016

9 Tips for Growing Your Writing Skills

Happy birthday, Seekerville! Myra here. Wow, just think—all this began nine years ago when many of us still resided in little grass shacks on Unpubbed Island! Look how our mainland village has grown!


For my part in our birthday celebration, I’m offering nine proven ways to take your writing skills to the next level. I hope you’ll share a few of your own tips as well.

1. Study craft books. Many excellent resources have been mentioned here in Seekerville. I listed several of my personal favorites in my post “The Writer’s Reference Shelf” (March 10, 2009). To that list I’d also add:
2. Take online classes. Writers’ organizations like ACFW and RWA offer a variety of online courses available to members at no charge or for nominal fees. I’m currently enrolled in an RWA course on author newsletters. ACFW’s online course archives are available for any member to peruse. Topics include self-editing, writing a novella, marketing, research, and many more.

Many writers have also benefited from taking one or more of Margie Lawson’s Writer’s Academy courses. Check out her offerings here, and also see what’s available under her menu tab for Lecture Packets, which are archived lessons from previous online classes. You won’t have the benefit of daily instructor feedback, but there’s plenty of valuable information to study and absorb at your own pace. 

3. Analyze good books. In my February 11, 2014, post, “Read Like a Writer . . . Then Write Like a Reader,” I offered several pointers for how to study and learn from  novels by other authors. 

Another method for analyzing a novel—a book you’re reading or your own work-in-progress—is described in the blog post A Taste of the EDITS System by Margie Lawson. Here, Margie describes how to use different colored highlighters and pens to mark various components of a scene. When you see all the colors laid out on the page, it can help you see where there might be too much of one thing or not enough of another. In analyzing a published novel, highlighting can give you visual clues as to the author’s style and technique, and you can judge for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

4. Join a critique group. Here again, your membership in a writer’s organization is the best place to start. ACFW members can access critique group information here. For RWA members, click here. Or, if you participate in a local writing chapter, that could be the best place to look for a critique partner or group.

Remember, critique groups or partnerships are not “one size fits all.” Tina Radcliffe shared her advice in The Art of Critique” (May 23, 2013). Seekervillagers Naomi Rawlings and Melissa Jagears described their experience as critique partners in “CPFs – Finding and Keeping a Critique Partner Forever (or at least for 3 years…)” (September 11, 2013).


5. Attend conferences. In addition to the annual ACFW and RWA conferences, Debby Giusti described several others worth checking out in her post Writing Conferences Across America” (July 18, 2012). If a national conference seems too overwhelming (or too expensive!), investigate smaller regional conferences, which may offer equally informative workshops if not quite as many choices.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and attend a conference, review Seekerville guest Kathleen Y’Barbo’s tips in “Making the Most of Your Conference Experience” (July 11, 2014). 

6. Follow industry blogs and websites. We love our Seekervillagers and want you to keep coming back, but you should be aware of other blogs and websites out there where you can glean additional helpful information on the writing craft as well as the publishing industry in general. Here are several you can check out:
For even more websites and blogs that might be of interest, visit the Links tab at the top of our page.

7. Master basic grammar skills. As Grammar Queen reminds us every chance she gets, language and grammar are the tools of our trade. We owe it to ourselves—and to our editors and eventually our readers—to handle the English language with the same level of skill we apply to mastering point of view, description, characterization, plotting, and every other aspect of writing a book.

You can review all of Grammar Queen’s Seekerville lectures here.

GQ’s favorite grammar reference books include:
8. Enter manuscript contests. Once you’ve gotten feedback on your manuscript from your critique group or perhaps a mentor/coach, you might be ready to enter your work in a contest. As so many Seekerville Contest Divas have said, manuscript contests can be a great way to get fresh eyes on your story, along with valuable feedback from the judges. Finalists may even get their manuscript in front of an editor or agent, and who knows where that could lead!

For a complete rundown of writing contests, check out Seekerville’s monthly Contest Updates.

9. Write every day. You know the old saying about how to get to Carnegie Hall . . . practice, practice, practice! Writing is no different. If you want to improve, you have to write, regularly and often! You can’t always wait for the muse to show up. Examine your daily routine and figure out where you can schedule in writing time. Treat it like an appointment—write it on the calendar if you need to—and honor that time as you would any other appointment.

If at all possible, create a place you’ll use just for writing—an unused guest room, a closet, a quiet corner of the living room, or even one end of the kitchen table if that’s the only available space. Have all your tools within easy reach—computer, tablet and pens, reference books, etc.—so you don’t have to go hunt everything down each time you’re ready to get to work. 

~~~~~

Those are my nine tips for growing as a writer. What helps you the most? Any other suggestions about reference books, conferences, or habits to make or break? Join the conversation for a chance to win a copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Life on the Trail into the Western Frontier (thought I'd continue the "9" theme for Seekerville’s 9th birthday). The collection includes my novella Settled Hearts


About Myra: Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards and winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.”

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen 

160 comments :

  1. As you know, I'm no a writer but I can tweak #9 to fit me: "Read every day" And I do :-) I've gotten to know quite a number of authors by reading their books, reading other books by authors they endorse and of course here on Seekerville learning ways they craft their stories. Writers are a fascinating bunch and I love being on this journey with them!

    The Oregon Trail Romance collection is of particular interest to me. For one, I live in Oregon on the coast and love stories set in my State. Secondly, the wagon trains coming West on the Oregon trail have long fascinated me. I can't really pinpoint the whys, maybe because I like Western fiction or maybe for the history factor or maybe again for a mix of both reasons. I can't imagine what it must have been like for people to travel that way! And all the things they must have encountered. It sparks ones imagination, or at least it does mine :-) Thanks for a chance to win the book, I love that cover!

    ReplyDelete
  2. WHOA!!! This is exactly what we need in Seekerville right now with so many new writers joining us. Excellent resource and a few I forgot about. Printing this right up!

    ReplyDelete
  3. By the way, this is an excellent day to ASK QUESTIONS TOO. All those burning unanswered questions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know that practice applies to most things in life.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good list of encouragement to writers, and as Mary and Tina said, can be tweaked to be helpful advice for any skill we're trying to learn! I do think a lot of becoming a better writer is simply being willing to write, and write some more, and then write more. Reading a lot will also improve one's writing. And having a thick skin and being open to having others read and critique one's writing...

    Not an easy skill at all to hone, but as all of us readers well appreciate, what a gift a well-written book is!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post Myra! Thank you for adding all the links. I have visited a few already this morning but will need more time to come back and really tune into them. Thank you for sharing Myra.

    I do read everyday. If a day goes by and something happens where I can't read I feel like I have missed out on something.

    Have a Happy Birthday day everyone!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post, Myra! Aside from Seekerville, there are so many resources available online...take advantage of this free information! Most importantly, enter contests!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a conference course in a blog!!!! It is a writing course disguised as a blog!

    Myra, there is so much good stuff in here that I feel like the lightweight I am.... but I'm crazy appreciative because all of this is so spot on!

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    And I agree with The Teenster.... questions matter.... questions clear the air, and the things you're thinking about asking are probably the same things going through a dozen people's minds and they're too shy to ask.

    Don't be shy here.

    Be big and brave and bold (I teach this to three year olds... BIG SMILE!!!! Are we smarter than three-year-olds???? YES!!! Mostly!)

    I'm putting party cupcakes with little fall pumpkin flags on the table.

    YUMMY STUFF!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great advice! I just started reading'Writer with a Day Job.' I think it's going to be a keeper for this busy person who has more than one 'other' job. It says many of the things that Myra has shared here but also serves as an encouragement to squeeze in moments to write.

    Seekerville is an amazing resource. Keep up the great work. I don't always comment every day, but please know I'm out their lurking and singing happy birthday.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A meaty summary, MYRA! And thank you for the links. I see a few I need to add to my "favorites!" There are so many resources on-line now for aspiring (and published) writers that the Seekers weren't able to take advantage of for so long because they didn't exist! Newbie writers now, with so much on-line at their fingertips, have no idea what it was like before email and the internet.

    So make the most of it, guys and gals! A golden opportunity. :)

    And as Tina and Ruthy mentioned, Seekerville is a great spot to ask questions and get some answers!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for a wonderful post, Myra. Not only did you provide great information, but you also linked us to so many archived articles that provide even more tools for the trade, so to speak.

    I'm copying your suggestions of blogs to follow. If only there were more hours in a day...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Writers write. I often think a person just starting out on their writing journey should write six manuscripts as a warm-up exercise. There's so much to know, and writing day after day, as you mentioned, is the best way to learn the craft.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Reaching for one of Ruthy's cupcakes and pouring a second cup of coffee..

    ReplyDelete
  14. Myra, what a great post. I come by Seekerville every day and always enjoy learning and connecting. Thanks for all you do!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Myra,

    Very good tips for writers at every stage of their career. I think studying craft books, taking courses and attending conferences are a must for writers! And there are many good regional/local conferences for writers to attend that are more budget friendly than an annual conference!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Awesome post and great resources! Thanks for sharing! I love entering contests for the feedback to see how to improve my writing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good morning, Seekerville! Glad to see today's post is already generating some good conversation. Give me a few more minutes to get myself organized for the day and I'll be back to chat!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Myra, you packed a lot of info into a short, relevant, encouraging blog post! Way to go! Thank you for reminding us of all the wonderful resources Seekerville has accumulated over our nine years. We wouldn't be here without good, foundational writing advice and the help of our Villagers and guests, and of course, God's blessings!

    Seekerville is an awesome place!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I just noticed Ruthy brought cupcakes. It might be a little early for cake, but hey, it's our birthday month. Pouring another cup of coffee and biting into a plate full of goodness...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Okay, back among the living!

    TRIXI, we love our Seekervillager readers! We appreciate so much how you support and encourage us in what we do, and it's always a delight to know our posts also hold something of value for readers.

    Yes, it was so interesting doing the research for my Oregon Trail story. In fact, as I've been writing historical romance, I've learned lots of things I either never got from high school history class or just didn't remember. It also helps that much of the research I do involves personal accounts of people who actually lived through those times, so it's a whole new perspective.

    Happy to add you to the drawing!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks, TINA! When I'm coming up with my topic each month, I always wonder how it's going to come across. Good to know this one is succeeding!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Myra, You have set up a checklist column to help both the published and new writer and I recommend everyone to print this out. When I need reinforcement of a writer's life I will reread this blog. You have nicely organized several helpful tips and added inspiration to get me on the right (write) track. Great resources and ideas to set up an office or grab a corner of a room and declare your writing area. I started on my dining room table. Where ever you are in your writing this column will be enormously helpful. Bless you for sharing today, Myra.

    ReplyDelete
  23. MARY PRESTON, exactly. Whatever we do in life, if we want to improve, it takes practice. Project Guy and I are currently attending a "Coffee With the Pastors" book discussion group at our church, and we've been reading Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, by Tim Keller. I'm realizing how much practice it takes to have a truly meaningful and effective prayer life.

    ReplyDelete
  24. FEDORA, exactly. Writers write. And the more we write--and the more we open ourselves up to receive constructive criticism--the better writers we become.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Happy Birthday to Seekerville on this eleventh day of October. Enjoy your Tuesday everyone and happy writing. There's some coolness here on the west coast to Florida and I think it finally feels like Autumn.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Myra,

    This post was so full of fantastic information, I'll be referring back to it for months! In addition to the 9 points, thanks for all the links!

    Please add my name to the drawing!

    ReplyDelete
  27. CINDY W, many of those links were new to me as well, and I have to credit TINA with helping me add to my list. That lady is a virtual warehouse of information! Not to mention she's very, very wise!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ruthy,

    I love anything pumpkins, so please pass the plate of cupcakes!

    ReplyDelete
  29. JILL, yes, entering contests can be an invaluable learning experience. Contests help thicken your skin and prepare you for the real world of submitting your work to editors and agents. And contests that provide judges' comments are great ways to get that (hopefully) constructive criticism that will help us grow as writers.

    ReplyDelete
  30. YAY----RUTHY brought cupcakes!!!

    Yes, we exist in Seekerville to field your questions, share whatever knowledge and insight we can, and encourage as much as possible! Don't be shy!

    OR RUTHY WILL COME LOOKING FOR YOU!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you, BETTIE! "Writer With a Day Job" sounds like a great source of tips and encouragement. I admire anyone who can carve out time to write while working full-time. It's a testament to their determination and dedication, and that kind of self-discipline is what it takes to succeed!

    ReplyDelete
  32. GLYNNA, oh my goodness, the Internet was a mere gleam in someone's eye when I first started writing seriously! Now, there is so much out there that the choices can be overwhelming. That's one reason we need to verify the sources of any information we get online. Also, I gravitate toward sites that have been recommended to me by people I already know and trust.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Right, DEBBY, what we need are a LOT more hours in the day!!! The Internet has given us immediate access to so much information, whether for research or keeping up with publishing trends or staying in contact with readers and writers. It takes organization and self-discipline just to manage our online time!

    ReplyDelete
  34. And DEBBY also said: "I often think a person just starting out on their writing journey should write six manuscripts as a warm-up exercise."

    So . . . like, complete novels? Or short stories? Or just the equivalent of a LOT of writing for practice and learning?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank YOU, JACKIE! We love having you in Seekerville!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you! I home educate my 6/7 children and have high school students. I have forwarded this post to and will look forward to discussing writing with them. These are excellent suggestions and thoughts for all writers. I love learning!
    Thank you.
    Becky

    ReplyDelete
  37. Exactly, ROSE. Local and regional conferences are much more budge-friendly and not nearly so intimidating for a first-time conference attendee.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Great post, MYRA! I believe that self-discipline is also required to live well. I have trouble in the area of daily Bible study. I can't seem to get beyond the surface level revelation.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of The Oregon Trail Romance collection. I LOVE these collections!



    ReplyDelete
  39. SALLY, thank you! Yes, contests are a great way to get feedback and learn the areas not only where we need improvement but also what's working well.

    ReplyDelete
  40. AUDRA, it's amazing, isn't it? Just looking back through the archives, I'm bowled over by our collection of instructional and motivational posts, not to mention all the fabulous guest bloggers who have visited Seekerville!

    But none of that would matter if not for our loyal SEEKERVILLAGERS! We might be celebrating our 9th birthday, but we're really celebrating all of YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you, SUZANNE! Glad you mentioned creating a designated writing space. Not everyone has that option, but if you can, it helps so much in telling the brain that, yes, here we are in our "office" and we are now going to WRITE!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks, EDWINA! Always happy to know I've provided useful information. I'll definitely be checking out several of those links more regularly, myself!

    ReplyDelete
  43. You're welcome, BECKY! How fun to know my post will be helpful for your students!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi, CARYL! Exactly--self-discipline is a must for any skill we're struggling to master. Even in our spiritual lives, an area I'm also continually working on.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Well, Myra you tempt me to buy a grammar books.

    HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Still, it couldn't hurt.....still, if I don't know grammar by now it's possible I have a learning disability. That's what I blame my high school math performance on.

    Disability and .... let's face it....laziness.

    I really don't know how you remember all this grammar stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  46. ON THE OTHER HAND, just great list, Myra. THANK YOU.

    Every post this month has urged me to dig deeper into my books, try HARDER, in all areas of writing.

    I think I'll use our 9th birthday month as a text book forever.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Not a writer but I learn so much about writing every time I visit Seekerville!
    Your collection sounds like a great read.. toss me in please :)

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hey Myra! Fabulous post. This is why Seekerville is the first website I check every morning. I don't always get a chance to pop in and say hi or comment on a post, but this is such a fabulous resource for writers. Thanks so much for the tips. It was through Seekerville that I got my fabulous critique partners. We've been together for several years and I wouldn't trade them for the world. Thanks for all y'all do!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Ruthy will come looking for you.... YES!!! But she'll bring cupcakes so the tongue-lashing will at least be followed by sugary-sweetness/yummy goodness! :)

    Laughing! And passing the cupcakes (I do believe Edwina had TWO, but I'd never embarrass her by saying such a thing out loud... bless her heart!) :)

    ReplyDelete
  50. MYRA, this is an awesome list of resources for writers! I love classes and conferences and How To books, but the best tips in my humble opinion are entering contests and writing every day. I also love having critique partners who get my voice and give me fresh eyes. Not sure I could handle a critique group, but it was through a group that my critique partner and I hooked up. As to grammar, commas trip me up occasionally, but the good thing is a comma error never kept anyone from getting published. Don't tell Grammar Queen I said that!

    Pass the cupcakes!

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  51. I adore teaching my kids the grammar classes in our homeschool. I'm still learning information!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Myra, complete manuscripts. Understanding story is an important aspect of our craft. Of course, writing six manuscripts is a huge undertaking, but many writers will have done so before they make that first sale. I wrote six books...but over a period of years. Finally, I put all my energy into producing one that was right for Love Inspired Suspense. It sold...the rest is history. :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. LOL, MARY! What can I say? My brain is just grammar-centric. Math? Not one of my major skill sets.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Lots of great tips. Thanks, Myra. Another good resource in addition to craft books are writer's magazines like The Writer or Writer's Digest. I have subscribed to both of those in the past but didn't have time to read them so they have piled up. I no longer get the subscriptions, but am grabbing one off the pile each day to read so eventually I will catch up. Then maybe I will subscribe again!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  55. So glad to have you, DEANNA! We always hope our posts focusing on writing include advice and information that might also be applied to other aspects of life.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Wonderful about your critique partners, LEANNE! I can honestly say that Seekervillagers are the BEST!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Hey, all! I just saw where Myra's "When the Clouds Roll By" is $1.99 on Kindle for a limited time only!!

    (I hope this doesn't post twice--the first time I tried, Blogger gave me an "oops" notification and ate it)

    ReplyDelete
  58. JANET, you make an important point. It's vital that our critique partners "get" our voice instead of trying to mold our writing style to fit their own. That's why it's a good idea to try out a critique group or partner before you commit for the long haul. You'll instinctively know when you've found the right fit.

    And don't worry about GQ. I have her locked in the closet today!

    ReplyDelete
  59. SUSAN P, you sound like a gal after Grammar Queen's own heart!

    (I'll tell her when I let her out of the closet later.)

    ReplyDelete
  60. I totally get it, DEBBY! I think I had 12-15 completed manuscripts in my file drawer before my first book sold. I HOPE each one got better and better, because I know I learned a lot in the process!

    ReplyDelete
  61. SANDY SMITH, yes, there are several great publications for writers. I used to subscribe to the ones you mentioned, too, but--as you said--they started piling up without getting read. Also, as I narrowed my writing focus to inspirational romance and women's fiction, I didn't have as much interest in the articles aimed at other types of writing. Now, I mainly read Romance Writers Report.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Wow, GLYNNA, thanks for the heads-up! I didn't know about that promo!

    ReplyDelete
  63. Great tips! Following Seekerville and seeing all that you writers put into refining your craft definitely makes me appreciate a well-written book and helps me not take it for granted!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Wow...such a bunch of comments and so interesting...yes, I have to read each one of them, I am a reader, you know. Great post, Myra. I really think all writers, for sure those that want to self pub should be required to spend time in Seekerville!
    But that's just my opinion!

    ReplyDelete
  65. Thank you, HEIDI! i know I read novels in a different way since becoming a writer myself. When reading for pleasure, that isn't always a good thing, though! :-/

    ReplyDelete
  66. LOL, MARIANNE, we always welcome your opinions!!!

    We do hope Seekerville continues to prove a valuable resource for writers at all levels. We wouldn't be where we are today without the interest and support of all our Seekervillagers!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Myra, I agree that some of the writer's magazines don't apply as much to inspirational fiction. I tend to skip over those that don't apply to me. Sometimes they have more relevant articles. It is kind of fun to read about how some of the authors work. I wish there was an inspirational writer's magazine, though.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Myra, these tips are great for any field. But #7 - I wish my college-student tutoring clients would just learn basic English writing skills already! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  69. A great list for those that are writers. I for one am not a writer. I am a book junkie! Reading, reviewing, influencing, and helping authors is what I love to do.
    Thank you for this wonderful website.

    ReplyDelete
  70. This is fabulous. One reason I love Seekerville is all the practical advice you provide. Myra, the links and references you shared are invaluable. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  71. That would be nice, wouldn't it, SANDY? The closest thing I know of is ACFW's online newsletter. They used to publish a print magazine, but I think it got too expensive to produce and mail.

    ReplyDelete
  72. MYRA, GRAMMAR QUEEN is in lock down! Exciting to know she won't be judging my punctuation. Still she's a wonderful asset around here so be sure to give her food and water today. :-)

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  73. It's mind-boggling, isn't it, SARAH, that some students can get all the way through high school and into college without better English skills!

    ReplyDelete
  74. And we appreciate you SOOOO much, CHERYL!

    ReplyDelete
  75. I especially appreciated what you said about analyzing good books in this post and in your earlier post, “Read Like a Writer . . . Then Write Like a Reader.” I'm working on a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and am discovering how much this helps my own writing. While my innate laziness resists exerting the intellectual effort to analyze, I'm finding that it doesn't detract from my reading bliss. And it helps me internalize so many elements that improve my writing. I'm also being stretched by reading writers who are more skilled than I am.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Glad to be of help, SUSAN! We aim to please!

    ReplyDelete
  77. Oh, don't worry, JANET! No matter where I stash GQ, she makes enough of a stir that she's impossible to ignore for long!

    ReplyDelete
  78. That's great, ANN! Yes, it takes some effort to read analytically, but you do learn so much.

    ReplyDelete
  79. By the way, no need to enter me in the drawing today :)

    ReplyDelete
  80. This is good stuff, MYRA. We never stop learning. Right now I don't have time to read craft books, sigh, but I read a lot of articles and go on a lot of blogs and Web sites. I'm in contest mode this year, entering as many as I have time and funds for, because the feedback is worth more than the entry fees!
    I'm also a huge advocate of Putting Things Aside To Gel and Coming Back To Them Later. Right now I'm on a circuit between three books. I work on them, let them sit and come back to them with what I've learned since I put them aside.
    I know I need to read more analytically, that's a problem area for me, because I read to relax. What I do enjoy is reading a Seeker or Villager book AFTER they've talked about it on the blog, because then I can see what they did and how it played out.
    BTW, I'm reading "Castles In the Clouds" right now and enjoying it immensely. A good follow-up to the Bryony book; also it was fun to reconnect, however briefly, with Sam, Annemarie and Mary the nurse. What a nice surprise.
    Kathy Bailey
    Making It Work in NH

    ReplyDelete
  81. RUTHY, you are not a lightweight.
    GLYNNA, I agree about the resources. When I started writing fiction in earnest, we had "The Writer," "Writer's Digest," conferences and crit partners. I take heart in knowing that I can get writing advice any hour of the day or night, from any corner of the globe, with this little machine. (Actually it's not that little, I prefer a desktop, but you get the idea. I mean, it COULD be little.)
    KB

    ReplyDelete
  82. Hi, KATHY! So true--we never stop learning! And I totally agree about putting things aside and coming back to them later with a fresh eye. I do that with edits and revisions. When I finish a manuscript, I always work on something else for a week or two before going back for edits.

    So glad you're enjoying Castles in the Clouds! I really had fun bringing Sam, Annemarie, and Mary into the story, imagining what their lives would be like several years after the Till We Meet Again series ended.

    And I like what you said about reading a book mentioned in Seekerville after the author has talked about it here. Yes, I can see how that would be helpful as a learning tool!

    ReplyDelete
  83. It's still morning here, but I think I will have a cupcake. I'll just pretend it's a doughnut.
    KB

    ReplyDelete
  84. This is a great post, Myra and yet another reason why Seekerville is such a wonderful gift to/for writers (and readers). Thank you so much for the links too. I tend to only look here for writing help and then click on the links y'all provide. I agree, TINA is link queen for all links useful/helpful.

    I'm just thrilled I get to hang out around here and bask in the wisdom you Seeker Ladies and guests provide. Huge blessing.

    I love Seekerville Birthday month. Everything is just that much more wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Myra, what a great list! I'm feeling particularly convicted about that last one. :) I'm also talking an online class right now. So I'm still learning!

    ReplyDelete
  86. Thank you, DEB H! Yup, I'm the same way--check Seekerville first as my source for helpful writing information!

    And we are SO glad you hang out with us!!!

    ReplyDelete
  87. Yes, MISSY, the learning never stops! And after all you've been dealing with over the past several months, topped of by your inspiring post yesterday, you have NO REASON to feel convicted. You'll know when it's time to get writing again.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Myra I love this list. I am always reading a craft book and studying it. They have been a great help. I am currently taking an on line class and they have helped. Entering the contests was a big hep not only in boosting my confidence that I can write but helping me know where to start in polishing the book. I will be checking out the resource tools you posted so I can add them to my wish list. One of the craft books that has helped is Shoot Your Novel by CS Larkin.

    Have a great day everyone and Happy writing.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Excellent advice, Myra - - thank you!! Another keeper post that I will re-read often to stay focused and reminded! All you Seekers are soooo wise and caring. This blog is truly a gold-mine of information (not to mention wonderful friends, yummy calorie-free food *wink*, and laughs). :)

    Speaking of food - - I'm glad some of Ruthy's cupcakes are still on the table (thanks, Ruthy!).

    And I must add that I have been LOVING your book "Castles In The Clouds" - - oh my, I should finish today (have I mentioned I'm a slow reader? *sigh*) and I'll be posting FIVE STAR reviews - - it might be my new favorite Myra book!! :)

    Hugs, Patti Jo

    ReplyDelete
  90. WILANI, you are doing everything right and moving steadily forward--congratulations! Thanks for the Shoot Your Novel book recommendation. Can you share some of the tips you've gleaned from it?

    ReplyDelete
  91. Thank you so much, PATTI JO! You are one of our MOST faithful Seekervillagers!!! Glad we could tempt you with all the calorie-free food--and you KNOW how much we love your peach cobbler!!!

    ReplyDelete
  92. Good afternoon, Myra! I very much enjoy the weekend updates with the links and have noticed how frequently that includes The Creative Penn. I finally just signed up for my own email subscription. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read The Moral Premise yet, but I own it, and it's in my TBR list. Thank you for the kick in the seat...um, suggestions! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  93. 3. Analyze good books. In my February 11, 2014, post, “Read Like a Writer . . . Then Write Like a Reader,” I offered several pointers for how to study and learn from novels by other authors.

    So you're the one who gave me this tip a couple of years ago! I have learned so much by doing this, Myra. I particularly take note when an author doesn't follow some of the guidelines for good writing and yet the story is enjoyable.

    You share such super teaching posts!

    Nancy C

    ReplyDelete
  94. All those tips are so useful, but I think another important one is to read good fiction along with craft books. Read your genre. Read classics. But read like a writer, noting what you liked and what you didn't, and of course always considering how you can incorporate your favorite elements in your own stories. The same goes for movies, music, true life stories- anything can be an inspiration. Especially those random thoughts that pop in your head. Remember those!

    ReplyDelete
  95. Hi, MEGHAN! Yes, there's a wealth of information on The Creative Penn. I follow her on Twitter and frequently look to see what she's posting about.

    What---you haven't gotten around to reading The Moral Premise yet??? Better move it higher in your TBR stack!

    And you must have mistaken me for RUTHY. She's the seat-of-the-pants kicker. I only offer gentle suggestions. ;-D

    ReplyDelete
  96. Thank you, NANCY! Yes, it does give you something to think about when you read a novel where the author breaks all the "rules" we've been taught as "good little writers" and somehow it works anyway. Honestly, before I took some writing classes and learned what single point of view was (and why it mattered), I never noticed head-hopping, at least not consciously.

    ReplyDelete
  97. So true, BOO. We can find inspiration in all kinds of places. And I do think it's important to read in a variety of genres. I try to choose something a little different with each novel I read. Just finished Jan Drexler's A Mother for His Children and the book I picked up next is a futuristic YA.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Lots of great 9s there! I love the way y'all encourage and challenge one another here on Seekerville. Edifying and building one another up! Blessings to all of you writers today!
    I'll be applying some of these tips to my blogging! Thanks, Myra!

    ReplyDelete
  99. I've been thinking about what helps me the most and it's reading. When I read a great book and forget I am a writer and simply become a reader. That is the most inspiring thing of all. Then I want to be able to replicate that THING the author did and I am motivated.

    I will also say that a good critique or revision letter is also inspiring.

    A to-do list can be a bun kicker as well.

    ReplyDelete
  100. You're welcome, ERIN! Glad to know you found a few tips in my post that could be applicable for blogging. It definitely takes dedication and discipline to write fresh and engaging posts regularly.

    And we're all about supporting and encouraging one another here in Seekerville! I think that's the secret of our success!

    ReplyDelete
  101. I was fascinated by this post. I knew that there was a lot that writers have to do besides just sitting down an writing. This provided me a lot of information as to what all it entails. Thank you for putting so much detail into this post Myra.

    ReplyDelete
  102. TINA, I know what you mean about reading a great book and then wanting to replicate whatever that author did that made the book work so well. Sometimes it's hard to pin down, though. It's more of a feeling you come away with, a sense that you were in the hands of a master storyteller.

    As for those critiques and revision letters, yes, they can be very motivational, especially when the advice is presented tactfully and with heavy doses of encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
  103. You're welcome, DEBBIE! At the beginning of our writing careers, I don't think any of us really comprehended everything that goes into the writing, editing, publication, and marketing of a book. It has all been one long learning process!

    ReplyDelete
  104. I agree with Tina. I think reading helps me the most as a writer, along with actually practicing the writing process itself. :)

    ReplyDelete
  105. Right, MEGAN! I know very few writers who are not also avid readers.

    ReplyDelete
  106. Myra, what a joy to come to Seekerville and get refreshed!! All the tips are spot-on and the links are so enticing! Committing to becoming an eternal student...ever learning and digesting helpful information...might just minimize "old age" issues. LOL

    I have been inspired by my 88-year-old mother who mastered an iPad two years ago...just for Facebook...and has now started using the keyboard to make comments. (She wouldn't do it before. She was afraid of mistakes...but, it's such a joy to see what she says!)

    Would love to read The Oregon Trail Romance collection. When we lived on our ranch bordering Nevada and Oregon, we hosted two separate Applegate wagon train re-enactments. Wow...so fun to have those covered wagons circled up in our corral...and the participants were fascinating. When the first group reached Oregon, they voted their wagon master out...later he tried to sabotage them...you can't make this stuff up!! Oh, wait, that's what we fiction writers do!! LOL

    Happy birthday to Seekerville...I'm off to create some real life drama....only on paper, of course!!

    ReplyDelete
  107. KATHRYN, thank you! And how sweet that your mother is enjoying her iPad so much! I honestly do believe that making ourselves keep up with technology is one really good way to help keep our brains young. (Need to keep prodding Project Guy in that direction--LOL!)

    The wagon train reenactments must have been so interesting. No, you can't invent these kinds of real-life stories--just elaborate and fictionalize and mine them like crazy for our novels!

    ReplyDelete
  108. MYRA, I just saw Grammar Queen gobbling cupcakes and complaining about the noise. The woman is a bit uptight. Though she did question why Jack Sparrow wasn't here. Did we forget to invite him to the party?

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  109. On a side note: Anyone here know anything about Booksweeps? I keep hearing about it but can't find much info...

    ReplyDelete
  110. I would say that the tips that I follow best are 3 & 9 (with a little bit of 7 thrown in there). Especially 9. My writing has developed so much in the two years since I started writing my first book and it has really done so because I have kept writing during that entire time. I would add to 9 though, don't just write, write different things. Switch off genres, write nonfiction... This will help you get variety in your writing and develop other styles.

    ReplyDelete
  111. JANET, do NOT for your own safety involve GQ with Jack Sparrow! His grammar is atrocious, and she would have a conniption fit!!!

    ReplyDelete
  112. SARAH, I've been seeing Booksweeps in various places, too, but I don't know anything about it.

    ReplyDelete
  113. Good advice, NICKY! It's smart to try writing different genres, at least until you settle on your personal niche. Then, for the sake of brand and reader identification, it's best to focus on one--or at least make sure the genres you write in are compatible.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Great tips! I'm gonna throw this out there for us readers. 9 tips to grow your reading skills.
    1. Study different types/genres of books.
    2. Join an online readers group.
    3. Read classics and good books.
    4. Join a book club.
    5. Attend the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat *wink wink
    6. Follow authors, readers and publishers' blogs.
    7. Master basic reading etiquette (i.e., never use your book as a coaster, don't fold down corners of pages as a bookmark, don't ruin the spine...etc)
    8. Enter giveaway contests for books (but ALWAYS read and review. If you don't like it, pass it on to the library or someone else. They might enjoy it).
    9. READ EVERY DAY!

    WOW! This was fun! I might need to turn this into a post on my blog! Thanks Myra!!

    Happy day, everyone!
    I love this list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicely done, Annie! I might have to turn THAT into a blog post :)

      Delete
  115. Will there be a CFRR in 2016? Wink back at 'cha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahha. Sure hope so! Feeling like blushing with your winks Tina! 😉

      Delete
  116. Love it, JUST COMMONLY! Thank you for sharing those great reader tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks MYRA! i pulled it off your list!

      Delete
  117. Yes, good question, TINA! Really hoping CFRR becomes an annual tradition!

    ReplyDelete
  118. True, MYRA, but but don't forget the attraction of opposites.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  119. Thank you Myra, this was really helpful :)

    I think the writing every day is most helpful. At least when I was working on writing novels. It kept things flowing nicely and turned into a habit, making it easier.

    Please enter me in the drawing for a copy of "The Oregon Trail Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Life on the Trail into the Western Frontier" - I love these collection books.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

    ReplyDelete
  120. Myra, I am amazed how quickly you responded to all today's commenters. You are really giving and fast on the draw. Keep your energy level high, but stop and take a deep breath. You deserve it.

    ReplyDelete
  121. WOW, WOW, WOW, MYRA!!!! Had to use caps because this post is AWESOME and incredibly valuable (and thorough!) -- a definite printer-offer!

    Every aspiring author NEEDS to read this post, my friend, seriously!

    Although I have done most of these as an author, you introduced me to a new one with #3 -- Analyze good books. EXCELLENT POINTS, all, and a fresh idea for me!

    Hugs!
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  122. So true, PHYLLIS! Writing every day really helps me stay connected to the story. It's always a little harder getting back into the writing groove after the weekend, and especially hard after vacations or other longer interruptions!

    ReplyDelete
  123. Interesting post with a wealth of info, MYRA - thank you!! Love to read the novella collections and would love to read your novella in the Oregon Trail collection!!

    ANNIE, loved your tips for readers and think I have each of them "down-to-pat" with the exception of the online reader's group - which I just no longer have time for, although I do participate in tons of Facebook reader book launch parties which discuss books, some at length. I cancelled my book club membership also as I find far more books I want to read through FB and author/reader blogs and magazines/catalogs such as those from Lifeway, CBD, and online book magazines.

    Yes, I would say my life is hugely dominated by the reading, reviewing, other promo, purchasing, and just thinking of books, book events, and authors/writers, LOL!! Authors/writers: please heed MYRA'S wonderful tips so you can keep those beautiful books coming!!

    ReplyDelete
  124. Thank you, SUZANNE! I keep the comments page open on my computer all day so I can peek in often while working on other projects.

    ReplyDelete
  125. So we CAN teach a long-time successful writer new tricks, eh, JULIE? ;-D There's always more to learn about this writing biz, that's for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  126. BONNIE, you are such a sweetheart! I am amazed at all you do to support authors and their books! Still enjoying the memories of CFRR and meeting you wonderful ladies in person!

    ReplyDelete
  127. Oh, wow. Sooo much goodness here. I love the suggestion about writing like a reader. I went back and saved that link, too. And about reading and analyzing great books. Wonderful idea. I also love reading craft books. The James Scott Bell one is a favorite of mine.


    One of my favorite writing methods is one I got from Debby here on Seekerville...Fast Drafting. I signed up for the class by Candace Havens, and it really inspired me.

    ReplyDelete
  128. Thanks, DANA! I really like Jim Bell's craft books--straightforward and with lots of tips for incorporating his techniques or tailoring them to fit your personal writing style.

    I agree--DEBBY has some great teaching posts. I am never very good at writing a fast draft, though. I labor too long over every phrase and character action. I suppose I could try a little harder to write fast . . . one of these days. ;-D

    ReplyDelete
  129. These are good LIFE lessons, not just writing advice. WTG Myra!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  130. Excellent advice, Myra! This one goes into the keep pile so it can be read over and over again. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  131. In the book Shoot your Novel. It is suggesting you look at the scene of your novel as if you were making a movie and you are the camera. What is important in the scene for the point of view character and what is not just one of many tips. I'm wanting eventually to buy a print copy of the book so I can have it on hand easier.

    By the way I learned about this book from Seekerville.

    ReplyDelete
  132. This is such a great post!!! Even just a couple of years ago I had no concept of how to even begin to do some of these things. But then Jan Drexler pointed me to Seekerville, and having this community and all the resources here has done incredible things for me as a writer. The big one on the list that I haven't been able to do yet is attend a Conference, but that's my goal for next year!

    Thanks for this! I'll bookmark this post as a reference for those days I struggle and feel like I'm getting nowhere :)

    ReplyDelete
  133. So glad you found us, MEGAN! And every writer must start at the beginning and learn each phase of the writing biz as we go along. Seekerville aims to make the journey a little easier, and a lot more fun!

    Hope you can make a conference next year! If you go to ACFW, be sure to look for the Seekers in attendance and introduce yourself! We love meeting our Seekervillagers in person!

    ReplyDelete
  134. Stepping away from the computer for a bit to help Project Guy with supper. Back soon!

    ReplyDelete
  135. Wow, MYRA, what a wonderful post! Thank you so much for the links and tips!

    And the comments were helpful as well - Seekerville truly rocks!

    JANET, you said: "As to grammar, commas trip me up occasionally, but the good thing is a comma error never kept anyone from getting published." So glad to hear this, because commas trip me up often :-) But I'm trying.

    Since you invited questions here, I was hoping someone could explain what an author's "street team" is? I've seen that term several times lately in relation to marketing a book (I'm not there yet, but hopefully someday) and was just wondering what the street team does. Thanks in advance for any info.


    ReplyDelete
  136. LAURA, it's true--if the overall story and writing quality is there, an editor or agent won't reject you because of a misplaced comma. BUT if your manuscript is full of grammar problems, they will definitely take into consideration how much work it would take to make the manuscript publishable. So first impressions do count, and you want to make the most of every opportunity you have to get your work in front of an editor or agent.

    I'll let someone who actually has a street team give a more complete answer to your question about they are. Basically, it's like an insiders' club of readers who can be counted on to spread the word about your book. Typically, authors give their street teams special perks, like giveaways and advance copies.

    ReplyDelete
  137. Mastering skills and then continuing to pursue growth and improvement are a constant challenge. I can check off eight of your nine tips, Myra. Have to admit that I don't enter contests very often so guess that's an area I should work on. :)

    ReplyDelete
  138. Hi, CAROL! Eight out of nine is pretty good!!! And you can be selective about contests. Enter the ones most likely to give good feedback and/or get your work in front of an editor or agent you're targeting.

    ReplyDelete
  139. LAURA....I'm part of many author street/launch/influencer teams. Some authors vary in what they expect from the readers within their "group". I'll just tell you from my experience: Most of the teams I'm involved in, the author and/or publisher will send you a copy of the upcoming book (paperback or ebook) for you to post reviews on various sites (Amazon & Goodreads being the two major ones). They like you to have one up by release day so they try to get them to you early enough to have time to read. Or at least have the review within a week or two of release. Some authors are more stringent than others about when best to post reviews.

    Some of the other suggested tasks would be to promote the book in various ways. Posting about the book on social media (Facebook & Twitter & the such), post about the book on their own blog (if they have one), talk to your friends/family/neighbors about the book, request your library to purchase a copy, donate your copy, read the book in your book club, etc. Some people have also made book quote memes (graphics) to share online (FB & twitter or their own blog).

    I know it sounds like a lot to do, but I've found that the authors I help out make it super simple for us to complete any and all tasks. It's super fun (at least for me) and it makes me feel good to help an author to get the word out about new books and get other readers excited. Also, before you join a team, most authors will have a list of what they expect out of the reader. If it's something you feel you just can't accomplish, then it's really ok. Then again some authors don't expect all that much out of you. Just a simple read & review online.

    I've so much enjoyed being part of the many author teams. They really do try hard to make it fun and easy for us & sometimes they even have giveaways just for their groups as a special thank you. I hope this helps you understand a little more about street teams :-)

    ReplyDelete
  140. Thank you, MYRA! I've been blessed with a daughter who writes/edits (non-fiction) for a living so she's been able to spot my comma mistakes before I've entered contests - so I've gotten good marks from judges on that. I just have a difficult time grasping it (proper comma usage) myself as I'm writing, but I'm slowly getting better. So very grateful for editors. And I'm in complete and utter awe of the Grammar Queen. Wish my brain worked like that :-)

    Thanks also for the street team info, sounds very interesting! And thanks again for such a helpful post - bookmarking it!!

    ReplyDelete
  141. Hi TRIXI! Yes, that does help. With all the marketing, publicity and promoting that authors are supposed to do these days, according to everything I'm reading, I imagine that a street team is a HUGE help. Thanks so much for explaining!

    ReplyDelete
  142. TRIXI, thanks for jumping in with a description of what street teams are all about--great explanation!

    ReplyDelete
  143. LAURA, nice to have a daughter who's happy to assist with proofreading! And don't get too envious of GQ's brain. Sometimes it's a real pain with her always looking over my shoulder and correcting my grammar or anything else we're reading!

    ReplyDelete
  144. MYRA SAID: "So we CAN teach a long-time successful writer new tricks, eh, JULIE? ;-D There's always more to learn about this writing biz, that's for sure!"

    Oh, AMEN TO THAT!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  145. Because one can never have too many craft books,minpciked up James Scott Bell book. Thanks for that suggestion and the others.

    ReplyDelete
  146. About Super Structure by James Scott Bell...I have also found the structure points he lays out to be very beneficial when writing my synopsis.

    ReplyDelete
  147. Hi, WALT! I think you'll get a lot from Jim Bell's book.

    But I don't know about having too many craft books. My craft bookshelves are jam-packed!

    ReplyDelete
  148. Oh, good suggestion, DANA! Must check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  149. So. Far. Behind.

    Thanks, Myra, for the great tips and lists. Will take a bit to work through them, but I will. Wonderful!

    I wasn't here at the start of Seekerville, but sure do remember many of you in the huts waiting... And NOW look at ya!

    Amazing! Happy Birthday!!

    ReplyDelete
  150. Thank you, KC! Yes, we've all come a long, long way since our days on the island!

    ReplyDelete
  151. Great points - thank you Myra!

    ReplyDelete
  152. Thank you Myra. This is great advice!

    ReplyDelete
  153. Thanks for stopping in, SHERRI and RACHEL!

    ReplyDelete
  154. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  155. "Write every day" is great advice for everyone! It is fun to look at my journal (diary) and recall previous times. Thanks for sharing.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete