Don't Let These Writing Myths Hold You Back

Most writers don’t start out as such. Instead, they are often insurance adjusters, school teachers, associate pastors or immersed in any number of other “ordinary” careers. And then slowly the Lord begins to shine His light upon the gift He’s given them. As the desire to be a writer grows in their hearts and minds, a mental roadblock often appears. But I’m not a writer. Writers are moody… or dysfunctional… or grammar Nazis. I’m just an electrician with 3 kids and a mortgage. I don’t fit the type. I won’t make it in the field of writing.

We are here to dismantle that roadblock and these other myths about writing that may be holding you back.

Myth No. 1: All writers hate their day jobs

Often we assume that writers spend their 9-to-5 hours trapped in a dreary cubicle, counting down the ticks of the clock until they can escape and do what they really love… write. This is a myth. Just like the successful doctor who also runs triathlons or the thriving high school teacher who plays in the community orchestra, many part-time writers are perfectly fulfilled in their primary occupations. In fact, authors frequently attribute part of their success to the inspiration and preparation that their day jobs provided.  So whether you plan to make writing a career or not, we encourage you to give yourself fully to all the work you do!

Myth No. 2: Writers lead dysfunctional lives (and that makes them better)

On the contrary, to be a successful writer, your life needs to be balanced, functional and firing on all cylinders. Meeting deadlines, handling critique and rejection… these all require soundness of mind and a steady composition. Sure, there are famous examples of writers who churned out bestselling work in between bouts in rehab, but this is not the norm and certainly not recommended. Make every effort to be emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy, and there you will do your best work.

Myth No. 3: All writers are ex-English majors

Great writing does not require a complete mastery of the APA Formatting & Style Guide. Still not sure when to use a semi-colon? Occasionally misuse there/their/they’re? You are not disqualified as a writer. Editors exist for a reason. If grammar is not your strength, utilize all the grammar tools you can find and hire a quality editor. Embrace your weakness, do what you can to improve, and don’t be restrained from using your gift of writing.

Myth No. 4: All writers are hermits

The bearded, pipe-smoking writer sits on the front porch of his mountain cabin, surveying the scenery as inspiration floods his mind. Is that the view you have of great writers? Sure, many find solitude helpful in getting work done, but there are plenty of successful authors who write in car lines, buses and noisy Starbucks corners. There are also many writers who are full of personality and don’t exhibit the stereotypical traits of the introverted genius.

In a recent Certa post, we excerpted author Jon Acuff, who wrote:

In our heads we see a small isolated cabin in a quiet patch of woods. There’s a porch with a swing out front. We sit on that when we need a break from all the amazing words we’ve written inside. There’s not much behind that cabin door, just a humble table like Hemingway probably used, a chair our grandfather made by hand and some sort of way to gather our words. For some, it’s a stack of fresh, white paper and a favorite pen. Others see a typewriter that makes real clickity clack sounds with each brilliant word you capture. The days pile up as the pages do too and we emerge from this literary sabbatical with a book and a beard. (Unless you’re a lady, the beard is not nearly as cool in your story.)

I thought that would be my life when I became a full time writer.

He goes on to explain how this is not his reality, nor the reality of most writers he knows. Don’t buy the lie that there is a one-size-fits-all personality type that all authors must fit in to.

At Certa Publishing, we love nothing more than watching someone discover their God-given gift of writing, and then help that gift bloom right there in the midst of their every day lives. Contact us today so we can partner with you!

 

 

 

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Don’t Let These Writing Myths Hold You Back

 

Pro-Tips you can't ignore

 

If I set a goal to run a marathon a year from now, who should I seek advice from? My co-worker who runs the treadmill twice a week? My neighbor who has been trying to finish a 5K for the past three years? Or my old college roommate who runs (and finishes) 4 marathons a year? That choice is easy.

When it comes to writing advice, we encourage you to seek out the marathon runners… those who have pushed past the initial growing pains, endured more than a few bad reviews (or even books that have bombed), and have managed to establish a successful career.

Today we offer you such an opportunity! We’re excerpting an article written by bestselling author and former publishing executive, Michael Hyatt. In What I’ve Learned About Blogging From Writing More Than 1,000 Posts, Mr. Hyatt lends us the wisdom he has gleaned from many years in the trenches as an author, specifically as a blogger. Enjoy!

I started blogging eight years ago. Since that time, I have written 1,115 posts. At an average of 750 words per post, that is 836,250 total words—the equivalent of about fourteen full-length books.

During that time, I have learned a great deal about blogging:

  • I’ve had times when I felt creative and the posts flowed—and times when I couldn’t string two sentences together.
  • I’ve had times when I loved writing and didn’t want to stop—and times when I hated writing and couldn’t start.
  • I’ve had times when I thought about starting a second or third blog—and times when I wanted to quit the one I have.

I think I have just about experienced it all.

But I keep going, one post at a time. Why? Because blogging has benefited me in seven specific ways:

  1. Blogging has helped clarify my own thinking. This is the single biggest benefit of blogging to me. It’s why I started blogging to begin with. Sometimes I joke that I don’t really know what I think about a subject until I have blogged about it. Writing helps me untangle my thoughts.
  2. Blogging has given me a way to build a platform. When I started, a platform involved having a radio or television show, a bestselling book, or a highly visible speaking career. It took money, fame, or both. It was mostly unavailable to the average person. Since that time, blogging has provided a way for almost anyone to gain visibility and build an audience.
  3. Blogging has led to new opportunities. Probably half my friends today are people I met through my blog or social media. In addition, almost all my income today is derived either directly or indirectly from my blog—advertising, product sales, speaking, consulting etc. It has even provided the raw material for several books.
  4. Blogging has provided a way to engage with my tribe. My commenting system enables my readers to respond to my posts and to engage with one another. This has gone to a whole new level with the addition of my “Community Leaders.” These comments provide near-instant feedback and sharpen my own thinking. They have made me a better, more thoughtful writer.
  5. Blogging has resulted in a treasure trove of content. I am increasingly finding new ways to re-purpose the content in my blog archives. In the last year alone, I have used it to write two books (i.e., Creating Your Personal Life Plan and Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World), launch a new podcast, and record a new audio program.
  6. Blogging has established my authority and expertise. It used to be that you had to get a Ph.D. or write a book to establish your expertise in a subject area. While these are still valid paths, blogging provides a third alternative. For example, I do not have a degree in leadership nor have I written a book on that topic. Yet, I am constantly asked to speak on leadership and am interviewed by the media on this topic. Why? Because I have one of the most popular leadership blogs.
  7. Blogging has provided a way to contribute to others. It is the way I share what I have been given. I love curating information and packaging it up so that it is more easily digested. When I hear or read something stimulating, I want to pass it along. For me, blogging is my art. It is a labor of love.

One of the best parts of blogging is that you can learn as you go. Not every post has to be perfect. You can publish and tweak your way to success. The important thing is to start. And, if you have started, keep going.

At Certa Publishing, we encourage our authors to write, write, write! Perhaps you have a neglected blog that can be dusted off and made fresh. Or maybe you’ve never given blogging a try. We hope Mr. Hyatt’s article inspires you to make full use of this valuable tool!

Contact us today to see how Certa can come alongside you in your publishing process.

Pro-Tips You Can’t Ignore

 

Have you overlooked this free (but amazing) marketing tool- (1)

 

The writing world is full of expensive marketing tools. But there is one completely free tool that many authors are either neglecting entirely or failing to use to it’s potential: the Amazon Author Page.

But I already have a website, a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn page… do I really need this too? YES. While your other platforms may be well-done and informational, they are often only found when a reader intentionally seeks you out. However, an Amazon Author Page “lives” where readers live: on Amazon. Once the reader has found one of your books, it only takes one click to send them to this in-depth resource. And did we mention that it is free?

Still not sure what we’re talking about? Head over to author Paul Wilbur’s Amazon Author Page. With the help of Certa, Paul was able to create a dynamic, informative page that is helping him sell books and engage with his readers.

So let’s get started:

  1. Head here and follow the instructions for setting up your page.
  2. Add a biography. That’s the blurb that shows up on the left of the page. Make it brief, yet amazing. (You’re a writer after all!) Don’t forget to mention any awards you’ve won and links to your other platforms (website, social media, etc). Be sure to include your Twitter handle, since Amazon will auto-update your page with your latest tweets (yet another reason to keep those tweets interesting and fresh.)
  3. Add events. Include upcoming speaking events, book tour dates or podcast releases. Be sure to keep this up-to-date and remove any old events. Few things will send readers to that BACK button like seeing a 2-year old event on your page.
  4. Add as many photos as it allows. First, include your headshot, but feel free to get creative with the others. Your photos should reflect your genre and personality. Are you a travel writer? Include photos of your destinations. Does your cat make frequent appearances in your work? Include Fluffy’s picture! Readers love getting to know you better.
  5. Be sure that all of your books are listed. Many readers visit Author Pages to find the writer’s other work.
  6. Customize your URL. Instead of an Amazon-issued URL like http://amazon.com/john-smith/e/F007KHIY6, you can have http://amazon.com/johnsmith. Definitely more attractive.
  7. Add the RSS feed to your blog and new posts will automatically show up on your page. This is another great way to offer your reader a deeper insight into who you are and create meaningful connections.
  8. Use the “Customer Reviews” tab to respond to reader reviews. Readers LOVE to receive a personal comment from an author. This type of one-on-one contact can quickly turn a passive reader into an adoring fan.

In her post, How to Optimize Your Amazon Author Central Page, tech expert Carla King sums it up this way:

Amazon loves to sell books and Author Central gives us the opportunity to make more money, which, of course, helps them make more money.  So take advantage of it. Make it a living page by keeping it current and embedding your RSS feeds so that it’s always fresh and new.  (And make sure you’re updating your blog!)  List your in-person and virtual events. List your custom URL on your website, business card, and your email signatures.  If you’re like most authors, you’ll sell more books via Amazon than any other retailer.  Optimize here, and boost that number even higher.

Perhaps you find this all a bit intimidating. We understand! That’s why at Certa Publishing we specialize in walking with our authors each step of the way. Need help setting up your Amazon Author Page? We’d love to be of service! Contact us today.

Have You Overlooked This Free (but Amazing) Marketing Tool?

have the confidence to market your book

Just because you are an amazing writer doesn’t mean you are great at marketing. This realization can be very intimidating to new authors… enough so that it can spell the demise of a very valuable book. In our recent post, I’m a Writer, Not a Salesperson! we articulated this quandary:

You’re a pastor. Or maybe an elder in your local church. You might be a stay-at-home mom or a teacher. But you’re probably not a professional salesperson. So now that you’ve written a book, it needs to be sold and you’re feeling a little squeamish. Why? Because it’s likely that your initial “customers” will be friends and family, and that feels awkward. You don’t want to be that friend or family member who is selling a product and making everyone feel obligated to buy it. And yet, you need the support and word-of-mouth marketing of your inner circle. So how do you sell your book to those closest to you without it getting all weird?

We suggested three ways to push through this self-doubt:

  • Be confident
  • Be helpful
  • Be authentic.

In his recent post, 3 Reasons We Need You to Shout, bestselling author Jon Acuff offers inspiration for writers who feel less than up to the task of marketing:

For a lot of people, the hardest part of a project is what happens after it’s done.

It’s one thing to start a business, write a book, make an album or become a photographer.

It’s another thing to tell people you did one of those things.

The creation is hard, but for lots of peopl e, the marketing of it is even harder.

The temptation is to go quiet, to get shy with our work.

I don’t think you should do that.

In fact, here are 3 reasons we need you to shout:

1. People will miss it.

Whenever we do a book tour, I do my best to tell people about it online. I blog about it. I tweet about it. I post it on Facebo

ok and LinkedIN and Instagram. I feel like I talk about it so much that I’m bothering people. The day after each tour stop, I post a photo of the event. Every time, someone sees the photo and says, “I wish I had known you were coming to my city. I would have loved to come to your event!” I might have felt like I was over-talking it but the reality is that the only person who sees everything you say, is you. Most people miss most things you say unless you say them more times than you are comfortable.

2. It’s not for the haters.

There might be people who get mad that you’re talking about your thing, but guess what? They’re not your audience. Those handful of people weren’t going to buy your thing anyway. Whether you promote it 10 times or 100, they weren’t going along for the ride. Knowing that, why should we let them dictate how we promote our thing?

3. We need it.

If you’ve got something you believe will help people, hiding it isn’t humility, it’s cowardice. We get this in other professions. If my toilet explodes and you’re a plumber, not telling me you can help isn’t a kindness to me. I don’t think, “I’m so glad they didn’t over promote.” I think, “I wish I had a plumber.” If you believe in your work and it will help people, share it.

The biggest thing you have to remember is this, if you’re worried about sharing it too much, you’re already in a good place. You know who never worries about over promoting? People who are over promoting. The act of concern indicates you’re already going to be taking a careful, considerate road.

At Certa Publishing we have helped countless authors grow from marketing novices to experts. Contact us today so we can partner with you!

Have the Confidence to Market Your Book

so what is your excuse-

The idea for a book comes. You lay at night pondering, “writing” aloud, crafting the perfect illustrations, imagining the cover, chapter titles, and the dramatic opening line. Yet as pen goes to paper, doubt creeps in.

Does anyone really want to read this?

My topic is too niche. My experience is too unique.

No one knows who I am.

How will my book even get noticed?

And if I do manage to write this book, who will want to publish it?

The obstacles are too great, the path too unsure. 

No, I’m not the person to write a book. Perhaps I’ll just blog or journal. That’s the extent of it.

Before you shelve that dream entirely, let’s consider another writer who faced more obstacles than most could imagine, and had every excuse possible to lay down the pen.

John, the disciple, sat inside a prison camp on the dusty, secluded island of Patmos. This tiny outpost near present-day Turkey in the Aegean Sea was the perfect place to be forgotten. To die in obscurity. To fade away. Instead, John wrote the book of Revelation, which is the final authority on the end times and spells out our hope of the Lord’s return.

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. (Revelation 1:9-11)

While many of Christ’s disciples were executed, John met a different fate. He was arrested and sent to Patmos, where prisoners were sentenced to work in the island’s mines. Surely the Lord’s command to “write what you see in a book,” must have caught him by surprise. Write a book? While imprisoned? Even if he could find the time and materials to do so, how would his writing ever be distributed? It seems John had quite a plausible excuse to lay down his pen.

And yet, he wrote. We don’t know exactly how his writings were “published,” but we can be certain that Lord’s hand guided the process. What faith John must have had to pour out his visions onto paper, never knowing if they would be read or even received as truth.

And yet he wrote. And what an impact his writings have had.

Although a skeptic, author Jonathan Kirsch states in his book, A History of the End of the World, that:

[Revelation] has come to play a unique and ubiquitous role in the world in which we live today. Indeed, Revelation has always served as a lens through which the recorded history of Western Civilization can be seen in fresh and illuminating ways. Across the twenty centuries that have passed since it was first composed—and, above all, at every point where contesting ideas of culture and politics have come into conflict—Revelation is always present, sometimes in plain sight and sometimes just beneath the surface.

So we ask you today… what obstacles do you face as a writer? What doubt plagues you? If the Lord has clearly called you to write, do it. Look to John as your inspiration as you push past the fear and hurdles to deliver the message God has given you.

At Certa Publishing, we believe in the message inside our authors. Our goal is to provide you with all the tools and support you need to transform your message into a published book.

 

So what’s your excuse?

mint tea

This week we’re featuring some of Copyblogger’s fascinating insights into the writing habits and environments of their editorial team. Copyblogger has been at the forefront of content writing since 2006 and their parent company now boasts a client base of more than 200,000 unique customers.

They asked several members of their editorial team to divulge their habits and preferences on the following points:

  • Setting
  • Time of day
  • Beverage
  • Tools
  • Music or silence preference

We have included several of the answers here:

Stefanie Flaxman, editor-in-chief

Setting: My desk is my favorite place to concentrate on writing.

Time of Day: I like drafting and jotting down notes all day, every day. But my butt-in-chair writing time typically happens in the afternoon, after I’ve already completed my editing work for the day. That routine works for me no matter what type of writing I’m working on, but morning or evening writing sessions definitely happen when the words have already written themselves in my head and I need to get them out.

Beverage: Green tea. Mint tea. Cold-pressed green juice. Water.

Tools: MacBook Air and an outline in a Moleskine notebook. If I start a digital draft before sketching out an article in a notebook, it usually takes me longer to tie all of my ideas together.

Music or Silence?: I write with music. Sometimes a topic I’m writing about will inspire me to listen to a specific album. If that doesn’t happen, The Decemberists Radio or Tom Waits Radio on Pandora are my default writing stations. Editing and proofreading happen without background noise.

Kelton Reid, VP of multimedia production

Whether I’m working on a writing project or multimedia production, my habits and rituals tend to be pretty similar.

Setting: I’ve had great success working in coffee shops on tight deadlines, and studies show that working in a public space somehow motivates one to be more productive (not necessarily more cogent — interesting note there).

But I find that scheduling chunks of time, uninterrupted writing sprints in the privacy of my office with short breaks for coffee and stretching, is most productive if I have enough time to let a project marinate before editing.

I always come back to:

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King

Time of Day: I’m best first thing in the morning after breakfast and coffee — kid is at school, no one’s in the house kind of early — until lunch.

I will get a second wind of creative flow from 3 to 6 in the evening, and occasionally after 10:00 p.m..

Beverage: Black coffee. Green Tea. No fillers.

Tools: Thoughts that I can capture typically land in a small, pocket notebook that is always nearby, and if deemed useful, find themselves on a yellow legal pad in scrawled, rabid sentences that need to be vaccinated and put on leashes.

Healthy sentences often migrate to a full-fledged outline on 4X6 cards that pile up and must be clipped together. A Google Doc is another favorite for getting them all in one place.

Finally, a blank text document will be opened and a terrible first draft will emerge. A first draft needs air. I generally try to walk away from it as long as possible, and then get some fresh eyes on it before attempting to forge it into something anyone would ever want to read.

Music or Silence?: Ambient music I can ignore on the headphones. (Spotify is home to a lot of music for concentration.) Film soundtracks are great for productivity, as are simple white noise apps with rain and whatnot.

Loryn Thompson, data analyst

I tend to have the same routines for whatever I’m working on, although doing my best work writing often involves a lot fewer distractions, whereas when I’m doing data work and writing reports, I may be able to keep chat open.

Setting: Depends on the time of day. In the mornings I like to be at a quiet coffee shop (preferably where people don’t know me and therefore don’t try to talk to me), and in the late afternoon I prefer to be at home.

Time of Day: Morning (7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.) or late afternoon (4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Beverage: Cappuccinos or matcha lattes at the coffee shop, tea or coffee at home (with a mug warmer — I can’t drink lukewarm coffee!).

Tools: Laptop with email and chat closed. Sometimes I’ll even turn WiFi off if I know I won’t need it for research. Headphones are required. For my reports I use Google Docs, but when I’m working on a true writing piece I prefer a plain text editor.

And no phone. Having my phone anywhere near me — even just in the room — is a huge productivity killer. I usually leave mine downstairs most of the day, and only check it on breaks.

Music or Silence?: Music, but it can’t be distracting. Either it has to be music I’ve practically memorized or instrumental (more mood/ambient than classical, though).

What do you think? Are any of these habits similar to yours? Or were you surprised at how other writers work? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

At Certa Publishing we strive to bring ideas and inspiration that help our authors develop and thrive. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you!

From Mint Tea to Moleskin Notebooks: 3 writers share their habits

yes someone has already written your book.

Christian author Emily Freeman recounts a recent experience she had while listening to another author’s audio book:

I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, in my car as I drive around town this week… but as I listen to her read, I am pleased by this one thought: I’m so relieved I already wrote my own Big Magic. It’s called A Million Little Ways and it came out in 2013.

Why did she feel this way? She goes on to explain:

…while I listen to Big Magic, to Elizabeth Gilbert walk the same circles around creativity that so many of us have walked around and then written about, I realize I am deeply grateful.

Because while our perspective and world view are vastly different, while our personality and theology might not mix well, and while her book sits high up on bestseller lists while mine is mostly unknown by the majority of the population, I feel a certain kinship with Elizabeth Gilbert as I listen to her book.

And I am thankful that, at least this time, I do not feel threatened by the voice of another author who is saying similar things I’ve said.

You see, Ms. Freeman had a choice. She could have allowed this experience to demean her own work in her eyes. But instead, she chose to be grateful that she’d been able to contribute to the subject of creativity, yet also appreciate similar writing by another author.

The truth is that many writers and would-be writers are intimidated by the quantity of books already written on their subject, causing them to ask: Why should I write a book that has already been written? How can I possibly add to (or stand out from) the surplus of high caliber work that currently exists?

Perhaps we can find comfort in the words of King Solomon:

What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

While Ms. Freeman was able to appreciate that her subject (creativity) has been so extensively studied and explored, bestselling author Jon Acuff comes at the situation from a different angle, as he expressed in this tweet:

He makes the point that – yes your subject has been written about – but not by you. Your peculiar voice matters. It turns a rote topic into a unique and indispensable part of the subject’s greater lexicon.

Once we can accept these two truthsthat our theme or revelation is not particularly unique, but our voice isthere is freedom:

  • Freedom from the need to write an exhaustive dissertation
  • Freedom to narrow your writing to the areas where you have the most revelation, knowledge, and experience
  • Freedom from comparison with those who have greater academic or theological insight on the subject

Now we can begin to ask:

  • What is my contribution to this subject?
  • How can I use my individual experience, perspective, and voice to further the discussion and broaden the audience’s understanding?
  • How has God uniquely crafted me to speak on this topic?

This self-awareness allows us to avoid many of the traps writers fall into, such as writing for other authors and comparing our work unnecessarily. We are now free to write the book that is within us to write, and nothing more.

At Certa Publishing we believe that each of our authors possesses a unique and God-given voice, along with a high calling to use that voice to impact the Kingdom. Through our distinct “partner publishing” model, we come alongside writers to support them in their publishing process. Contact us today to find out more!

 

Yes someone has already written your book. Yes you should still write it.

Editing your own work can be intimidating. Where do you start? In our last post we began sharing some excerpts of Nicole Bianchi’s post, How to Edit Your Writing: An Effective 7-Step Process.

She began with the following steps:

  • Create an outline
  • Write your rough draft
  • Do a “substantive” edit
  • Have someone else read your piece

Today we are sharing the remainder of her self-editing process.

5. Edit for Grammar and Style

At this point, I’ve probably rewritten the piece several times. Now it’s time to evaluate the style of the piece, correct grammar and spelling errors, and strengthen the sentences and paragraphs.

Here are several things to look for:
  • Are there any long-winded sentences that you can shorten or divide into two sentences? Any long paragraphs that you can separate into multiple paragraphs?
  • Do you have any passive sentences? See here for how to spot passive voice.
  • Are you peppering your writing with cliched phrases? Use the cliche finder.
  • Any spelling or capitalization errors? Misplaced modifiers? Misuse of commas? Other punctuation errors?
  • If you’re writing a blog post, are there places where you can use contractions to make your writing sound more conversational?
  • Have you eliminated unnecessary adverbs? Are there any difficult words that you could replace with more commonly known ones?

William Zinsser notes,

…The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what–these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence.

You can use an application like Grammarly to help with this process, but it might not catch all errors. The Hemingway Editor is another useful tool to determine if you have sentences that are difficult to read (copy and paste your text onto the homepage to use the free version of the app).

And, remember, that you can always brush up on your grammar knowledge by reading a book like The Elements of Style.

6. Have Someone Read Your Piece Again

Now I’m nearly ready to publish the piece. Since I’ve been reading the same lines over and over, my brain is usually exhausted at this point and will be less likely to notice typos. I try to find someone who will read my piece again to spot anything I might have missed.

Hopefully, your volunteer editor from step #4 is a really, really good friend and doesn’t mind reading your piece a second time. Or you might want to find a different person for a new set of eyes and fresh perspective. If you can’t find anyone to read your piece, however, I recommend printing it out and slowly reading it aloud during step #7.

7. Proofread One Last Time

The finish line is finally within sight. It’s time to give the piece one last read through.

If you’re working on a blog post, check for these things:
  • Do all of your links work and open in new windows? Have you linked to other articles on your site?
  • Do you need to tweak your headline to make it stronger? Try out the headline analyzer here.
  • Have you properly attributed all of your quotes?
  • If you’re using photos, have you included alt tags?
  • Are your subheadings consistently capitalized?
  • Have you previewed your post to make sure there are no formatting errors?
  • Do you have a call to action at the end of the post that asks readers to comment, share, and subscribe?

If you have a WordPress blog, I highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin as it will remind you to do many of these things. It also evaluates your post’s readability and points out passive sentences.

At Certa Publishing, we hope to empower our writers to effectively edit their own work, such as Ms. Bianchi advises. However, we realize that authors often need an expert’s help. That’s where our Book Editing Services come in. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you!

7 Steps to Editing as You Go: Part Two

pain

As you’ve walked through painful experiences, have you ever asked God, “What is the purpose to this pain?” There is an innate desire in us to know that the suffering will not be wasted, that the hurt is productive. The answer is yes.

Writing from our pain is not only an effective tool for processing our experiences, but also for transforming our suffering into an agent of encouragement and guidance for others.

Writing from Pain Accelerates the Healing Process

War produces death, fear and misery. Yet, in the case of the war in Afghanistan, it has also produced beautiful writing. When asked about the evocative and influential poetry and pose coming out of his country, one Afghan writer said,

In Afghanistan, we do not write for fun, passion, or money but to express the immeasurable pain inside. Maybe that’s how the actual writing is. There must be something discomforting to be disclosed. At least, that’s how we see it.

While most of us have not endured a decades-long war, many of us have walked through smaller personal tragedies. And at some point in the weeks or months after a difficult or traumatic event, it invariably happens. The right person, at the right time, asks you the right question: “Do you want to talk about it?” And then out it comes. The story, the emotions, the pain. While logic would tell us that a rehash of our suffering would increase our angst, we all know from experience what the Afghan writers know… that this disclosure is cathartic. It is for this reason that therapists’ couches across the country are full of those looking for healing through expression.

It is important to note that science confirms our anecdotal experience in this matter. In their book Opening Up by Writing it Down, Drs. Pennebaker and Smyth note the following:

Disclosure reduces the effects of stress. The act of disclosing a trauma reduces the physiological work of secrets. During disclosure, the biological stress of holding back is immediately reduced. Over time, if we continue to confront and thereby resolve our emotional upheavals, there will be a lowering of our overall stress level.

Disclosure forces a rethinking of events. Disclosing or confronting a trauma helps us understand and ultimately assimilate the event. By talking or writing about a secret experience, we are translating the event into language. Once it is language based, we can better understand the experience and ultimately put it behind us.

Writing from Pain Promotes Healing in Others

There is one phrase spoken during difficult times that can either draw you in or push you away: I know how you feel. When spoken by someone who has not walked in your shoes, this phrase can be difficult to hear. Yet when spoken by one who has experienced your pain, it can bring great relief. In fact, during periods of suffering, we often seek out those who truly know how we feel because their experiences and advice bring us comfort.

What if your writing could offer the same I’ve been there consolation for someone walking through similar struggles? Have you suffered a miscarriage? Death of a spouse? Have you experienced bankruptcy or a child who has walked away from the Lord? Writing about these experiences and the lessons you have learned offers an invaluable lifeline to others in the midst of similar painful experiences.

Perhaps the greatest example of writing from pain is the psalmist David. Whether he was being hunted by the King’s men or reeling from the death of his firstborn son, David poured out his grief through poetry and song. While this expression likely accelerated David’s own healing, his writing has also promoted healing in countless others who have often turned to the Psalms in times of their own suffering and distress.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps. Psalm 40:2

My heart is severely pained within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.
Psalm 55:4-5

Whether God has called you to write from a place of joy, peace or pain, at Certa Publishing, we strive to help authors answer that call and produce a book that is beautifully written, edited and printed so that it can reach those in need of its message.

Contact us today to start the process of becoming a published author!

 

Writing from Pain: A tool of healing for yourself and others

7 STEPS TO EDITING

Editing your own work can be intimidating. Where do you start? This month we’ll be sharing some excerpts of Nicole Bianchi’s post, How to Edit Your Writing: An Effective 7-Step Process. Hopefully her logical process will demystify the editing task and give you a practical way forward.

Today I’m sharing the steps I follow to edit my work along with the editing advice I’ve gleaned from various famous authors over the years.

1. Outline

When I have an idea for a new article, I spend time jotting down notes, researching (if necessary), and thinking of different ways I can approach the topic. Before I begin writing the piece, I gather all of those notes together and construct an outline. (If I were writing fiction, this would be the plotting stage.)

You wouldn’t begin building a house without construction plans that carefully measure the foundation, how big each room will be, and other precise details.

Similarly, I find when I don’t outline my piece beforehand, the first draft ends up a tangled mess. That’s because I’m developing my ideas as I go. If I outline first, the piece usually ends up not requiring as many revisions.

Here are two tips for outlining your piece:

  • First, summarize what your article is about in one sentence. This sentence should present the main idea or argument of your piece. You might end up including this sentence in the introduction of your piece, but even if you don’t, it will be a helpful guide as you write. If a paragraph doesn’t relate back to that original theme or support your argument, delete it.
  • After you’ve written down your one-sentence summary, you can plan out the main points of each section of your piece. Organize your thoughts into a logical and chronological structure.

2. Write Your First Draft

The next step, of course, is to actually write your piece. John Steinbeck advised,

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

I try hard to follow Steinbeck’s advice, but I am guilty of rewriting whole paragraphs as I work on my first draft. So don’t beat yourself up too much over this. Every writer has their own unique way of working. William Zinsser observes in his book On Writing Well,

Some people write their first draft in one long burst and then revise; others can’t write the second paragraph until they have fiddled endlessly with the first.

If a paragraph is giving you trouble, however, remember that you can always skip it and come back to it after you have gotten the rest of the piece down on paper. You might end up discovering that the paragraph wasn’t necessary after all.

3. Substantive Edit

A substantive edit (also known as a developmental edit) means analyzing the structure and flow of your piece.

Once I’ve finished the first draft, I step back from it and try to examine it as if I were the reader. I highly recommend reading your piece out loud at this point.

Ask yourself these questions as you read:

  • Do the paragraphs flow logically and chronologically?
  • If not, do you need to rearrange them or rewrite them?
  • Do you have smooth transitions between each paragraph and from one idea to the next?
  • Is there anything you need to explain in more depth?
  • Are there any parts of the piece that need more context?
  • Any sentences or sections that are repetitious?
  • Any sentences that are vague and could be enriched with more detailed examples?

Most importantly, examine whether every paragraph relates back to that initial one-sentence summary you wrote during the outlining process. As Marion Roach observes in her book The Memoir Project,

While editing, check back with that original pitch and see if you’ve done what you promised to do. What did you set out to illustrate? Have you fulfilled your obligations?

Maybe the direction of your piece has changed or evolved as you wrote the first draft. In that case, you might need to delete whole paragraphs, no matter how beautifully you’ve written them. Kurt Vonnegut advises,

Your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.

4. Have Someone Read Your Piece

Another set of eyes is always helpful at this stage of the editing process. You want to make sure that your piece is easy to read, that there is a logical flow within your paragraphs, and that you’ve effectively communicated your message to your readers.

Usually, I’ll ask my dad to read my nonfiction pieces. He’s frank in his criticism, and he’ll tell me if there are vague paragraphs, confusing sentences, or others that wander without getting to a point.

For my fiction pieces, I’ll turn to my brother, Michael, or my fellow fiction writing friends. Since they write fiction too, they can tell me if one of my scenes isn’t working or point out if I’m guilty of info dumping.

Another benefit of having someone read your piece is that they can prevent you from falling into the trap of perfectionism and over-editing.

While you shouldn’t be concerned with editing grammar at this point, I do recommend running your piece through a grammar and spelling checker to catch any typos or other errors (Grammarly is helpful for this). This is just a way to ensure that grammar errors don’t distract your volunteer editor.

If you don’t have a friend who can read your piece and give you feedback, I recommend putting your piece aside for at least a day. When you read a piece after a day has passed, you are usually able to examine it more objectively. This is a tip I learned from Neil Gaiman,

The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.

Check back soon for the final three steps in the editing process.

At Certa Publishing, we want to equip our writers to effectively edit their own work, such as Ms. Bianchi advises. However, we realize that authors often need an expert’s help. That’s where our Book Editing Services come in. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you!

7 Steps to Editing Your Work as You Go