WHY HATING OUR OLD WRITING ISN’T CUTE

A huge attitude in the writing community is cringing at our old writing. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Maybe it was someone yelling “Burn my first draft with fire!” or a whole Youtube video dedicated to reading cringe-worthy old writing.

Why, though?

What is it about us writers that enjoy hating on our beginnings? Why do we have to see our first drafts or stories we scribbled as preteens as things to be burned? Because it’s not cute or funny, y’all. I don’t care how many likes complaining about old writing will get you on Twitter–it isn’t right.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin,” – Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

Is it a constant struggle not to wanna lock our first drafts away in a dark cave for the rest of our lives? Sure. A first draft isn’t supposed to be publishing ready. It is supposed to be EXACTLY what it is. A start. I’m the first to admit how ROUGH a first draft can be. You guys haven’t seen the first drafts of Seek, or the very first draft of The Divided Nation, which was titled AWAKE, and believe me when I say, they needed work. But you know what I won’t say? I won’t say they were terrible, because that’s quite disrespectful to say when I asked God to help me write them! 

Without our silly stories we wrote as a kid, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Without our rough first drafts, we wouldn’t be having the fourth draft of that same novel being ready to meet the world. My point being, don’t despite small beginnings. Don’t despise the raw, rough, jumbled starts because without them, we won’t go anywhere. I don’t care how ‘bad’ we might see something, if we wrote it with the intention to glorify the Lord, that is enough. Don’t forget that. God doesn’t want perfect. He wants us to follow Him.

Instead of cringing, rejoice that God brought you this far. Instead of complaining, have faith God will keep moving you forward. As Christian authors, WE are supposed to be the difference in the world, and a huge way of doing that is breaking the mold of despising our beginnings!

What are YOUR thoughts on first drafts? I’d love to chat.

God bless,

Angie

PS. Sign ups to beta read The Divided Nation (dysto/apoc novel) end in a few days and I really would appreciate some, as strange as it sounds, GUY betas! If you’re interested or know someone who might be, check out the link. Thanks! (Please note there are limited slots left!)

 

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I REFUSE

I was nearing 30,000 words Monday for Camp NaNo. After really focusing my heart on the Lord for The Infidel Books, the words came pretty well and I felt that I wasn’t forsaking my plot and the foreboding for book 2 was a good start. I prayed hard to have faith when my doubts sounded so silly. I prayed God would guide my writing. I prayed to have confidence that even if this series only reached a select few people, that it would touch them, that God would only have the people HE needed to read it, read it.

Because of that prayer and trust in God, Satan has not left me alone. Do you know the feeling? When you know this is a thing God needs you to do–and no one else–but fears and doubts tug at you, trying to get you distracted and disheartened? You do, because we’re all human. But as Believers, we’re called to be BOLD. COURAGEOUS. 

I had finished writing a very, very painful scene that morning and found a song shortly after, called I Refuse by Five Finger Death Punch. I listen to them often, so this wasn’t out of this world weird. Still, it snagged my attention because of how, literally, spot on it was with the novel I’m writing. It almost freaked me out a bit. Here I was, worrying if what I’m writing needs to be heard or if I’m doing it right, and God just sends this song to confirm that, yes. Our words are needed. God gave us a voice not to be silenced. We have to make that choice because it will change things.

Skip a day ahead, I’m listening to the same song, and I realize something else. I refuse. I stopped matching the song to my novel and grabbed those two words with my spirit.

I refuse. I refuse to let Satan win. I refuse to be afraid. I refuse to let this go. I refuse to ignore God’s Voice. I refuse to doubt God’s Love. I refuse.

And when we make that choice, Satan has no power over us.

If you have doubts, don’t shove them away as silly, my friend. Pray. And you look those doubts and fears in the face and say, “I refuse you in the name of Christ.”

If you’re interested in beta reading The Divided Nation, here’s the sign up form, as well. ♥ If you have questions, let me know, and if you can’t sign up be can spread the word, I’d really aappreciate that!

God bless,

Angela

HOW TO STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR WIP

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I’ll be honest, I generally don’t have trouble staying focused on my WIPs. I try to limit my WIPs to one or two at a time, but I don’t have a hard time getting motivated for either (I just struggle with the idea of writing so much at once, considering my chaotic life, lol). I don’t lose interest in my projects because they are more than just bunny trails. However, I know people who struggle with staying focused and motivated for their WIP, and I hope my tips help you!

 

KNOW WHY YOU ARE WRITING THIS STORY

This is the most important question you can ask yourself when starting a WIP. Why are you writing this project? Is it to heal a wound? Is it to spread awareness? Is it to make someone laugh? Before you dive into a story, answer this question. And once you know why you’re writing, hold on. Hold on to the answer. Because writing isn’t easy. Words don’t always come flowing, plot holes raise ugly heads, characters refuse to listen, and deadlines can be pretty scary fiends. But guess what? You have a voice and you have to make the decision to use it, no matter what.

Hold on to the truth that God gave you a voice and you’re writing this project to glorify Him and spread His love. Remember every voice is different. God needs yours. Don’t quit.

 

MAKE SURE IT IS MORE THAN A BUNNY TRAIL

OK, and before you say, “Every idea starts off small!”–this is true. Every author has a different way of doing things, and starting with nothing and just writing what comes to mind on a whim might work for some people, and that’s cool. But if you don’t have a written plot, formed outline, and solid characters, it probably won’t be easy to work on your WIP. I strongly suggest…

Have a plot. It does not have to be intricate or the size of the Bible. All you need is your basics. The basics could just be your intro, middle climax, and a rough idea of an ending. But you need the plot!

Outlining. I know not everyone likes outlining. But if you are stuck in your WIP, having an outline might be helpful so you know where you’re going with the story and what happens next. Again, outlining doesn’t have to be a huge chore. I’m sure you’ll find many helpful articles on teenage author sites and all, but I also recommend this post by Abigayle Claire about outlining for those who hate it.

Limit yourself. If you have seven plot bunnies dancing in your head, you cannot focus on plotting one WIP. So jot down other ideas, but focus your willpower on the main project(s).

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As my next point says, the plot and outline will change as you write, but try to have a solid grasp on your theme and main points, so even if they change, you’ll then have a solid idea of what they AREN’T, too. 😉

 

BE READY FOR THE STORY TO TAKE OVER

We can have the strongest, longest outline and plot in existence, with intricate details, brilliant plot twists, and heroic characters–and our story can still change. No, no, it will change. If you have done the above tips and still struggle, maybe because your plot changed as you wrote, or a character changed a motive, don’t stress it.

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Stories come to life. Be ready to let it come. Be ready to listen to God’s nudge in your gut as you write. Yeah, it might mean extra work because you have to rewrite the whole story, or redo a whole character, but it is worth it. Don’t stress the troubles that arrive. Don’t be disheartened! Everyone runs into problems (even bestselling authors, OK?). What makes us writers is pushing through trials with faith that God’ll lead us. Keep writing. Keep trying. Keep learning.

 

SET ATTAINABLE GOALS

Running out of steam is a thing, y’all, and a helpful way to avoid running out of steam is setting goals you can reach. Set a daily writing goal that you can achieve. This will boost confidence and every word counts, so your story will grow, day by day, and before you know it, you’ll have a finished draft.

So when you’re lacking focus or motivation, set goals! Sure, they might change, but you’ll make progress and feel better if you reach your daily goals.

BONUS: make creative goals! “Today I’m going to create a mock cover for 30 minutes, just to see what I come up with!” “I’m gonna spend 20 minutes on my Pinterest storyboard today!” These things aren’t pointless (cover making is really fun, yo) and helpful, so have at it with creative goals, too.

 

ALLOW YOURSELF RECHARGE TIME

This goes with or without struggling to stay focused on your WIP–hard work pays off, but if you push yourself too hard physically, emotionally, or spiritually, you will need to recharge. So try to be honest with yourself: are you really struggling with your WIP, or are you struggling because you aren’t taking care of yourself?

Recharging doesn’t always equal a month long hiatus from your project. We can’t always allow that kind of time frame, nor do we always want to. Taking breaks from a WIP is often recommended (especially after first drafts!) but if you’re past that stage or haven’t even finished your draft and need more motivation, I suggest…

Pray. What better way to recharge and find some peace than turning on praise music and reading your Bible? Talk to God and explain what struggles you’re facing. Ask Him to guide your writing. God is our greatest Guide, Comfort, and Storyteller… So seek the Best! 😉

Take a walk. Yeah, an oldie, but a goodie. It doesn’t have to be a marathon. You can even wander around your yard aimlessly. But fresh air does you good. And who knows? You might even find the answer to your plot hole in the great outdoors.

Human interaction! Whether you just wanna chat about some real life talk, or a family member is super good at brainstorming, step away from the laptop and talk to real people.

Just chill for 20 minutes. Read a book. Sketch something. See how much water you can drink in five minutes (this probably isn’t healthy?). Watch some TV. Bonus points if the show is the same genre as what you’re writing. (I rarely do this. Usually I just watch funny things on Youtube *cough*The Office*cough*) But allow yourself a blip of free time as a reward for your hard work!

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I hope this was helpful, and thanks to everyone who suggested this post. 🙂 Feel free to share it with a friend who might need it!

God bless,

Ang

 

 

EASY WAYS TO SUPPORT INDIE AUTHORS

In today’s world, Indie artists aren’t so rare. There are many Indie authors who find the self-publishing route fits them best. It’s a huge feat for artists because it proves everyone can do what they set their minds to. The sky is the limit!

However, everyone needs support. As an Indie author, it is vital to have support from friends, family–and readers. If you are an Indie or someone who wants to help support your Indie author friends, this post is for you. (You awesome person, you.)

 

REVIEW THE BOOK ON AMAZON/GOODREADS

You’ve probably heard this before, but it is important. I won’t waste a lot of time, but reviews on Goodreads are great, but reviews on Amazon are epic. It helps authors to have reviews on Amazon because that’s usually the link they’ll send to buyers!

So if you read the book, leave the author an honest review! It doesn’t have to be a book report! Even a quick “I really enjoyed this book!” is fantastic. 

(PS. Can’t review on Amazon? Reviews on Goodreads and your blog, if you have one, is still great!)

 

TELL YOUR FRIENDS

Word of mouth is powerful. Online or offline, if you find a book by an Indie author and think someone you know might enjoy it, spread the word! It’s easy and that bunny trail can mean the world to an author. Spreading the news about a published book or an Indie’s upcoming release is an amazing, simple way to help out. You can repost, share a status, email a friend, or give a fast Tweet. Your voice matters. ♥

 

IF YOU LIKE THE AUTHOR, FOLLOW THEM!

Not only does following an author give you a better chance of winning things (who doesn’t like a free book, yo?), you’ll be one of the first to see what they’ll release next! Of course, don’t feel pressured to follow or anything, but also don’t feel like your follow doesn’t matter. It does! Every follower is appreciated by Indie authors, trust me!

 

PRE-ORDER THE BOOK

Another simple way to get in on the fun! Pre-ordering books helps build hype, and hype is important for new releases! If you know you’ll buy the book anyway, pre-ordering is a fun way to do it (and I know Indie authors who do special things for folks who pre-order, too).

 

MESSAGE THE AUTHOR!

There is nothing like getting a note, email, or message about how much someone liked your book, or how much it meant to them. It doesn’t take much of your time to send a message… and authors don’t bite! If you liked their book or look forward to their next release, send the love, y’all. It isn’t easy being an Indie author and supportive feedback really helps.

 

REQUEST THE BOOK AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY

If possible, request the Indie book at your local library! This kinda speaks for itself–libraries are soo not dead. 😉

 

SHARE STUFF

Share the book you like on social media! If you have a bookstagram, it makes an Indie authors DAY when we see our book on someone’s feed! So share the news and make it yours, yeah?

 

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As eccentric as Indie authors are, we’re still people, and everyone needs support. Even the smallest bit of support doesn’t go without gratitude!

What are some of YOUR tips? Any two-cents to add to help Indie authors? Comment below with the love!

God bless,

Angie

 

3 THINGS THAT STRANGER THINGS TEACHES US ABOUT STORYTELLING

The attention for the Netflix original series, Stranger Things, might’ve cooled down since the hiatus before the upcoming season 3, but I haven’t stopped thinking about the show. As I was playing the soundtrack, I started thinking about some things the first two seasons taught me about storytelling.

While the show isn’t for everyone, and I’m no way saying for my followers to go watch it, I’m a fan of the show–so far. I’m disclaiming merely because I have no idea what season 3 will hold and am no way condoning the unknown. I enjoyed the first two seasons because they had soo many great lessons to learn… as a writer. What are those things I’ve learned? It is time for…

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DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE WILD

Do not be afraid to write anything, period, about anything, ever (as long as God says it is OK, ha). What do I mean? I mean that 1.) There’s nothing new under the sun. 2.) So WRITE WILD.

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It is OK to be cliche sometimes! Cliches in Stranger Things included: big bad things, little town. Big bad government with lots of secrets. The nerds/geeks get bullied all the time. Most of the parents (EXCEPT JOYCE! SHE IS QUEEN!) have no idea what is going on. Are cliches always good? Nah. But guess what? They don’t always lessen the quality of fiction. The cliches in Stranger Things didn’t make things less realistic. So why are writers so afraid of being cliche sometimes? Cliches aren’t the enemy, y’all.

It is OK to be wild and strange! Writers are creative beings. The sky is the limit! Some strange things Stranger Things had was: how diverse the cast was (kids/teens/adults all in one inter-woven story? yes please). Not everyone made it out alive. Not every main character was even likable or had heroic motives. The monsters weren’t cliche-scary. The spiritual ties were very real. Don’t be afraid to get wild, creative, inventive, crazy–just go for it. Don’t be afraid if it isn’t very ‘realistic’. If you’re writing spec-fic, fantasy, etc, you’re job is to twist reality. So go twist reality!

 

DON’T UNDERMINE YOUR AUDIENCE

If you’re a writer who markets your own books, you know how important it is to find your target audience. Stranger Things had a broad audience, since the characters are in three groups: middle schoolers, highschoolers, and adults. The story built off of the other groups because no one could find all of the puzzle pieces alone. It took all of them to push the story onward. Where am I going with this? 

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Let’s be real. A YA marketed novel probably isn’t going to be picked up by many mature adults. An adult mystery novel probably won’t be picked up by a teenager. The obvious reason is because different audiences want different things.

While it is important to know your audience and give them what they want, don’t undermine them. Don’t think “They came for a YA romance, so I can only write a bunch of fluff or a bunch of angst.” Don’t worry so much to fill your check-list of ‘This Is What My Audience Wants’ that you fall flat and don’t write your story. Challenge your reader. Give them something to think about. If you’re writing a romance, make it a bit more than that. If you’re writing a mystery, make it more than that, too. Stranger Things was a hit because it mixed in more than one subplot and focused on the heart of the story, challenging readers to think.

 

DON’T CLOSE THE (CURIOSITY) DOOR

Think of your favorite book or TV show. Why is it a favorite? What theme clings to you? What character shined brightly? Did the story make you laugh, cry, etc? WHY? Why did things stick with you, and what would you have done differently? Storytelling is a craft, a gift, something that is inside you, but it will never be perfected. Humans aren’t perfect. So don’t strive to be. Don’t write the perfect story. Write your story. Write a good one. 

Stranger Things tapped into many important story telling techniques: strong character motivations, building anticipation and foreboding future situations, and using sensory details to capture people’s attentions. While writers can’t use an epic soundtrack to set a mood or portray emotions through lighting, we can use sensory details, spatial description, and set the mood in other ways. We can keep learning, exploring, and experiencing new things–it all helps. If you want your reader to remember your story, or get them to laugh, or get them to cry, or get them to see God’s hope–you have to tell them a story. You aren’t writing a nonfiction book or a police report or a recipe. You’re writing a story. And it isn’t easy. It takes effort, work, blood, sweat tears. You might wonder how much longer you can rewrite the same story.

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But keep that door open. Keep faith in God, yourself, and the power of your story! Don’t skimp out on building up a scene. Don’t bog readers with information, but give just enough description where they want more. Don’t make a character give too many secrets, but make the reader wish they did. There is power in storytelling. So give it thought, and when it comes down to it, trust God to show you when the story is complete. Not perfect, not the new bestseller, not the next C.S. Lewis–but finished. You told your story the best you could, glorified God, and it is enough. Somebody needs your story. And that’s why we tell them.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this post, friend! Feel free to leave your own thoughts (or, if you’ve seen the show, fangirl with me).

 

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God bless,

Ang