Spring 2019-Writing Workshop

The second writer’s workshop is in the next 2 weeks!

The purpose of these workshops is to assist budding and aspiring writers with with manuscripts, ideas or works in progress! For 2 hours, there will be advice dispensed, questions answered as well as resources given!

I am excited for what this second workshop will bring and the work to be created from it!

Pushing writers is what I do, and this platform is one more way to do that!

Best,

JBHarris

The Ears And Eyes: Why You Should Consider A Beta Reader

I love to call beta readers personal superheroes.

Beta readers are the those special group of people whom are anxious to read your work, with no other motivation than to read. It is glorious!

As a writer, beta readers can become your allies and secret weapons! Don’t discount them! They can be the difference between a wonderful revision or a barely tolerable rough draft.

As a writer,  it is easy to think (and believe) that the only person whom needs to read your work is you. It is easy to think that drafts, freewrites only need to be seen by your eyes.

This is a two-edged sword.

On one hand:  there are certain projects you may not want to be seen or read yet. They may not be ready, complete or even read over (Every writer is guilty of drafts that we forget are there!).

What Is A Beta Reader?

According to Wikipedia:

A beta reader is usually an unpaid test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author.

Note: A beta reader is not a professional and can therefore provide advice and comments in the opinions of an average reader.

Let me make this clear, to publish or become published, you don’t need to have a beta reader.

Let me also make this clear: beta readers are a tool and Shekinah Glory Writing Services is a fan of beta readers!

Beta readers are a great, living addition to your writing tool kit. They can give honest opinions and observations about what you’ve written. They can be just as passionate about your characters as you are. They can ask questions of you to pull out more story–sometimes parts you didn’t think about!

Beta readers are the unsung heroes of revising and drafting! Don’t believe me? Ask Stephen King. It was his wife, Tabitha, that rescued a novel from the trash because she liked what she read! That novel was Carrie.

Keep writing dear ones!

From The Editor’s Desk: Why You Need A Beta Reader

There is nothing wrong with having honest feedback.

There is nothing wrong with having someone else look at your work with the sole purpose of feedback.

Beta Readers are the secret weapon in any writers’ tool kit. This army of your own enlisting help you to weed out what works, what’s boring and what you need more of. The best analogy I can give comes from a process my grandmother did while baking.

When she would bake cakes or pies, she would make what she called a test cake. When she would do this, she would like a few taste the cake. The purpose of the process was to figure out if the cake needed anything added or taken away: more sugar, less vanilla, don’t cook it so long.

It was the feedback coupled with her expertise made what she created all the greater!

The same is said for beta readers! These people are the secret ingredient to what you need to make your work–before the prices of editing!–as reader desirable as it can be.

A good rule of thumb is after a draft is complete is have a small group of readers (friends, family, classmates) to look over your work purely for feedback! You can do the mechanics and other clean up later.

As Nora Roberts said, “You can’t edit a blank page.”

[images from guardian.ng and findbetareaders.com]

When The Paper Is Empty

Think of writing as an ocean, ebbing and flowing. There are times where there is a lull in writing. There is a time where the words aren’t coming or won’t come.

The paper or screen lays there like a blank, whitewashed catacomb. It is the scariest thing to a writer. It’s not writer’s block. It’s a quiet, the lull…the ocean moving away from the shore.

The ocean is your talent, gift, the ability to create with pen and paper. The shore is the connection of idea, talent and availability. Creativity flows in cycles be seasons. There are times when the flow is seamless and writing is easy.

The tidal waves are what I live for! The ideas that flow and crash. The ideas that come out of nowhere and everywhere! There is the calm, soothing waves after you finish a work.

But the lulls? As hard as that is, they are scary and quiet. They are these desolate places where you try and push back to the shore. And if enough time has passed, you look for the shore. You look for anything that has life to it or shows life on that shore.

The scarier part still, during this lull, you think you may never get back to it.

Fight the lulls! You do that with rest, time and learning to swim, as it were. Not everything is a novel, or a blog post. Some things are just meant to be noted. Recorded. What you catch during the lulls crafts your ship, which will always take you back to shore.

Sometimes, you have to tread water…even in the ocean. What you catch will keep you afloat.

[Image screenshot from YouTube Channel, BioGraphics]

Remember The Why

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I won’t lie to you…writing is hard.

Writing can make you question your sanity, any talent and your grasp of any language!

However, I implore you to remember why you do what you do, and how well you do it. This is what I call, ‘The Why’.

Among all the noise, distractions and deterrents on the planet, only you know why it is you do what you do. Only you know why you write. Remember that, above all else, no matter how great or small the project, remember The Why. Moreover, remember your why.

The Why is powered by a great many things, from a great many resources. Remember what it is that has pushed to you to create. What drives you to language? What inspires you? What have you started which you are consumed or driven to finish?

Only you can determine this.

Nikki Giovanni says you know you’re a writer because you keep writing. Toni Morrison said the reason she wrote, and finished, The Bluest Eye was because she wanted to read it. Ernest Hemingway said to write is pretty easy:  just sit at a typewriter and bleed.

If you have not found The Why or Your Why, don’t fret. You have time. This concept is two-fold:

 

The Why

  • This is the overall motivation for any writer. This is the drive, the force, the fuel that allow us to create, and conquer realms of creativity. This is the force which compels you to declare you are a writer.

 

Your Why

  • This is or can be any specific motivation for a project or story. This can have varying degrees and depth. This may be the motivation to finish a work, a poem or a even a novel.

 

The Why or Your Why are portions of your tool kits also! Don’t be afraid to examine them. Don’t be afraid to examine the motivation of why it is you do what you do as you do.

Be confident. The first reader of every work is you–The Why can only, will only help you achieve and do better.

 

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, Shekinah Glory Writing Services

 

[Image from Google]

The Stutter: What Happens When the Words Don’t Sound Right?

There is a madness in writing that is not found in any other profession.

The profession by nature is madness! You take what is in your head, a thing unseen or unknown to other people, and translate it to words. This at times, in the effort of being honest, is hard.

It’s hard because thoughts are fluid, they are invisible, they exist only in the mind of the person that has them. Which is made crazier when you have to make these thoughts relevant to other people–who aren’t or will never be in your head.

What’s to do, right?

Give up?

Ignore this screaming ideas in your head?

No.

Write them down. Let the thoughts out. It doesn’t matter if they don’t make sense to you at present. Don’t worry about syntax, spelling and cohesion just yet.

The goal in times like this is to release the thought into words. This is how you overcome what I like to call the stutter.

The Stutter is what every writer experiences one time or another. It’s the feeling that doesn’t let what is in your head get to your hand. It’s not a crisis of confidence, it’s translating.

The cure? Writing!

You cure the stutter by writing! You free write, you write drafts, you edit, but by no means do you surrender to the stutter. You take it hostage and make the stutter into story. You write it into submission!

Go forth and write…no more stuttering!

[image from Google]

The Hard Work

There is a saying among writers when it comes to first drafts: they are all crap. No matter how gifted the writer, all first drafts are crap.

Don’t debate me, just listen.

However, I love what Nora Roberts says about blank pages and drafts:

“You can’t edit an empty page.”

This is from the same Nora Roberts who has written 200 books. Two. Hundred. That’s a level of prolific that is unmatched. But it’s true–no one can read the stories in your head, dear one.

The advice I can give for writing first drafts is the same as was told to me: write. No matter how it looks or sounds, get it out of you. Write it down. The way you become a better writer, to develop the muscles they make writers prolific only come by writing!

Write! Write! Write!

The thing that helps me to try and be prolific is to give myself a deadline. That helps to focus research, and allows time to gather thoughts (or confidence) to write. The major hitch to keeping you from writing is more often than not is confidence or time.

Writers are and can be master procrastinators especially when we don’t think we can or should try to write. Fight the urge to ignore the need to write.

Fight it!

The benefit of doing the hard work is the sweeter part of adding to your draft, watching the story expand and change. Don’t allow the fear of how something will sound or look to stop the joy from coming.

Get to work.

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, SG Writing Services

[Image from Google]

Bend Blank Pages

I have never been afraid of a blank page or the secession of them. I wanted to fill the blank pages the I had. The best therapy for me is, and still is, school supply shopping. I love having a supply of blank pages. A fresh notebook is the sexiest writing item.

However, I understand the intimidation of blank pages–I get it. What I want to remind you of one thing: you are in control.

As a writer, you are in control.

The worlds you create must bend to your will and talent. They must! Here is motivation for how to continue to make the pages to your will:

Confidence. The story, before it is ever seen by anyone else, belongs to you. You must know every idea, personality or plot belongs to you. Because you are the Alpha and Omega to your own story, act like it.

Confront the Hang-Ups. This happens more often than you think. When you write as particular genre, like erotica, you may be constructing a scene which may be beyond your personal comfort zone. First, this is okay. You have the right to feel uncomfortable. Embrace that. After you embrace it–push past it. The story you write should be complete! If you are anxious to see what happens next, so will the people who read the story. So, tell it.

Show your work. Just like in math classes, when you write, show your work. If you choose to have your first draft in the traditional pen and paper format, keep the draft. Make your notes on the pages or margins.

For me, there are some works just begin on paper so I can see what I’m working on. It allows me to see in my own head–which is sometimes chaotic as the heads of most writers are. Writing down what my mind sees hasn’t been a problem. I allow myself to feel, to see and to write.

To you dear one, I offer the same advice. Scratch through the ideas that don’t work or make sense. Spell things in corners or on back pages. You are the master of your work. Master it.

I believe in you and all your pages hold. Go forth and fill them!

[Image taken from Google]

Tool Kits: What Do Writers Need?

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I wish I could tell  you there was some magical roux for you to be a successful writer. I wish I could tell you that it would all be easy, uniform, accessible and fool proof.  But with most things on the creative spectrum, your toolkits are formed by trial and error. They become the tools you need become such because you discover you need them. However, there are a few things which are fool proof to get your toolkit started.

  • Confidence. This is a the only tool which you will have to replenish often. Having this sense of self, the knowledge this is what you want to do, is the fuel most important. It cannot be emphasized  how necessary this is. Confidence leads to discipline. Discipline is the muscle needed to continue in this career. If you cannot believe you can put pen to paper, or words on a screen–there is nothing else which I can tell you to stir that gift. If you believe you can, you will.
  • Writing tools. Here is where it gets interesting. There are certain projects I use pen and paper for, and there are some I only can type out. Get familiar with the tools you like, the pace you like, and how you create. Do you think better when you write it down first and then transcribe? Is better to free write and build from there? What is it that you like to do? The beauty of writing is you get to make up your own rules. You determine what works best and when it works best.
  • Access to a dictionary or thesaurus and new surroundings. Your vocabulary is your arsenal. Learn new words. Learn new ways to say things. Invest in a good dictionary or dictionary app. Most dictionary app’s have the option to learn a new word a day. Tune your ears to pick up accents or dialects. Learn how to watch the world around you. As a writer, your leak and drink words. Feel free to gorge.
  • Make time to write. This may be the most difficult to do in the face of competing responsibilities. That being said, you must make the decision to orchestrate time for writing. Whether you have a dedicated day to pour out your thoughts, or just time enough to freewrite a topic or title, make time–make time. But trust me, it will be worth it.

The pathway to writing isn’t the smoothest, but it is a path you create. Be bold. Be willing. And most of all, go write!

Jennifer P. Harris

Editor/Founder-Shekinah Glory Writing Services